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Range Café rounds up new West Side location

Is it the huevos rancheros or is it the 3-D cow sculptures? Whatever it is, the Range Café has become something of an icon in the Albuquerque area. And now the Bernalillo-based New Mexican food eatery is opening another location.

The new restaurant will be opening in the building formerly occupied by Lone Star Steakhouse at 10019 Coors NW near Cottonwood Mall. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant is being renovated, and co-owner Matt DiGregory is hoping to open by the end of August.

DiGregory said his restaurants – he is also the owner of Standard Diner and Freighthouse Kitchen + Tap in Bernalillo – usually employ roughly 50 people.

The move to the West Side was a big change for DiGregory. “We usually love to take over these old funky buildings, but the West Side doesn’t have any,” DiGregory said.

DiGregory said he was approached by the landlords, and after looking at the building, decided it would be perfect for the Range Café.

Matt DiGregory, co-owner of The Range Café, hopes to open a new location in August. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

The location is undergoing heavy construction as DiGregory opens up the east wall and adds large windows. He is also expanding the outdoor patio. “The building has a perfect view of the Sandias, but it was designed in Texas (for Lone Star) and, typical giant corporation, they didn’t take into account anything around the building,” DiGregory said. He plans to fix that.

The former Lone Star Steakhouse on Coors NW is being transformed into the West Side’s first Range Café. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

For DiGregory, each Range Café location needs to be unique but still identifiable. He has a team of local artists that he uses, including 84-year-old Roger Evans, who designs the iconic 3-D cows.

“I like to tell (the artists), ‘Hey, here is your space. Just go for it.’ We have been very fortunate with the people that we get to work on the interiors,” DiGregory said.

DiGregory also said that he isn’t giving up on expanding further into Albuquerque, but “the price of liquor licenses (in New Mexico) is starting to become prohibitively expensive.” Future expansions, he said, may be out of state.

Helix Coffee and Yoga

Kristen and Vincent LaVolpa are new parents. At a time when most people are overwhelmed by the new responsibilities, the LaVolpas have decided to take on even more.

The couple opened Helix Coffee and Yoga on Campus Boulevard near Carlisle NE.

Helix Coffee and Yoga operates in this former residence on Campus Boulevard NE near Carlisle. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Helix is a former residence that was converted into offices and then commercial space. Vincent isn’t sure but believes the 1,300-square-foot building is pre-World War II.

“We wanted something homey, so what better than a home?” Kristen said.

Kristen and Vincent have many interests. Kristen loves break-dancing and is a part of the local Zia Queens Crew. She also makes jewelry, instructs yoga and teaches a “Social Justice and Senior Action Project” class at South Valley Academy.

Vincent and Kristen LaVolpa are the owners of Helix Coffee & Yoga. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Vincent is a former paramedic and operations manager for Nutrishop, who bought a coffee truck and branded it Green Joe Coffee. He has also written a book on converting campers to coffee trucks.

Helix brews coffee and has a full yoga schedule with classes starting at $8. But it also displays local art for sale and has a small area for local vendors with items ranging from beaded jewelry to bath bombs.

On the coffee side, Vincent buys from local roasters and says he is interested in bringing in as many local roasters as possible.

For yoga, Kristen is interested in “creating a yoga cooperative with many teachers signed on.” She now has three instructors.

Sauce Pizza & Wine

“Green chile and beer and we are done,” Sauce Pizza & Wine CEO, Scott Kilpatrick said.

Sauce Pizza & Wine has opened at the northern end of Winrock Center. (Courtesy of Sauce Pizza & Wine)

The Arizona-based Italian eatery is expanding into New Mexico, its first foray out of its home state, and it was important for Kilpatrick and Sauce to get to know the region. He and General Manager Chris McGinnis hired local staff and surveyed them to find out what to add to their menu to give the Albuquerque locals what they want. The staff answered back, “Beer and green chile.”

Sauce, along with its pizzas, salads, pastas and soups, is serving La Cumbre and Marble beer on tap and has added Hatch green chile.

Sauce has 12 locations, including four in Tucson.

“We liked Albuquerque, one, because it is a short flight, and two, because the market is very similar to Tucson.”

Sauce calls itself fast-casual Italian. Customers order at the counter and the food is delivered to the table. “It’s pretty easy dining,” Kilpatrick said.

The eatery is the first to open in the development across from ABQ Uptown. Kilpatrick said, “We really like this area. We like the redevelopment of the mall. We like ABQ Uptown. We like the energy, the traffic, the hotels right off the freeway.”

Sauce opened the 3,000-square-foot restaurant at the Winrock Center over the weekend.