SANTA FE, N.M. — Albuquerque residents can finally get their hands on Tomasita’s famous chile rellenos.
The Santa Fe eatery, in business since 1974, is expanding to the 7,500-square-foot building previously occupied by Texas Land & Cattle at 4949 Pan American Freeway, next to Century 24 Theater.
Renovations will begin in this month, with a planned October opening. The location will seat 250 to 300 people and employ at least 80.
For restaurant owner George Gundrey, the expansion to Albuquerque is a family homecoming. His grandmother opened The Central Cafe on Atrisco and Central in 1946.
“It was just a standard diner, fried chicken and things like that,” Gundrey said. “But (my grandmother) always had access to fresh chile and homemade tortillas.”
Gundrey said his mother’s experience growing up in the “Atrisco barrio” was the reason for her desire to open a restaurant serving New Mexican comfort food.
The Central Cafe closed in 1972, and George’s mother bought Tomasita’s and moved the family north two years later
Gundrey grew up in the Santa Fe restaurant and happily took over when he got older. Tomasita’s is still family-run “through and through,” he said. “Our recipes are very simple, and we just execute them correctly.”
“We were looking for a place for Tomasita’s for about a year, and we identified the I-25 corridor as the perfect location, but there were no vacancies,” said Ben Perich, senior broker with Collier’s International, who handled leasing for the property. “Then when Texas Land & Cattle closed up, it seemed like a natural fit.”
Gundrey said the space is perfectly located to appeal to a wide variety of people.
“We want to bring in construction workers and guys in business suits and movie stars and janitors,” Gundrey said. “Tomasita’s is for everyone.”