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Sadie’s putting its stamp on ex-Garduño’s location

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It’s out with the old and in with a New Mexico theme at a long-vacant restaurant building in Northeast Albuquerque.

A $2 million renovation is in full swing at 5400 Academy NE as workers transform a former Garduño’s Mexican restaurant into a Sadie’s.

Sadie’s fourth location is expected to open in mid-May. The 10,600-square-foot restaurant will employ between 100 and 125 people and seat 275.

Roger Erker and business partner Steve Maestas will operate the Academy site under a licensing agreement, but the Stafford family — which owns Sadie’s — will remain closely involved. Erker also operates the Sadie’s off I-40 and Eubank NE.

The Academy location will offer the same chips and salsa, enchiladas and other menu items that Sadie’s has been dishing out for decades on N. 4th Street.

“The recipes will be exactly the same,” said Betty Jo Stafford, whose sister is the restaurant’s namesake.

Owners chose the Academy site because it’s a high-traffic area, has convenient access for takeout customers and because the building has a certain charm. In fact, owners plan to leave the restaurant’s once-hopping, tile-countertop bar mostly the same.

The remodel will include some structural changes, roof work and plumbing upgrades. The focus is giving the old Garduño’s what one Stafford family member called a “real Southwestern” flavor.

The interior — which looks as it did when Garduño’s closed it three years ago during a bankruptcy case — will eventually fit the Sadie’s mold established on 4th NW.

“It screamed Mexico (before),” said Brian Stafford, Betty Jo’s son. “We want New Mexico.”

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