Old Town-area cafe assumes a split personality

Seared Bistro is opening in the same space as Cheese and Coffee at 199 San Pasquale SW. After Cheese and Coffee closes at 3 p.m., the staff decorates and changes out the menu. Seared opens at 4 p.m. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Jan Barringer-Tenchipe, owner of the Cheese and Coffee location at 119 San Pasquale SW, is adding a whole new twist for her 2,100-square-foot coffee shop.

It’s called Seared Bistro.

Don’t worry. Cheese and Coffee will still be around but after it closes in the afternoon, it will undergo a daily transformation and become an upscale American bistro “with a French and Italian twist,” according to Barringer-Tenchipe.

Here’s how it works: Cheese and Coffee closes at 3 p.m. daily. Seared will open at 4 p.m. In the hour in between, Barringer-Tenchipe and her 11 employees will add tablecloths and rearrange the movable walls. They will rearrange the art and the furniture. They will change out ingredients and decorate the front entrance. Last, they will move in the signs and poof! Cheese and Coffee becomes Seared Bistro.

Barringer-Tenchipe has owned Cheese and Coffee for seven years, having bought the location from the owners of the original location on Louisiana. She and her husband, Alejandro, who is Seared’s chef and co-owner, decided it was time to do more with the space.

“Both my husband and I just have a love for food and a love for people, and this way we get to spend more time together,” Barringer-Tenchipe said. “He is a chef elsewhere and I’ve been doing this and we thought, let’s put our heads together and do something for us.”

Alejandro will cook up fine dining options like filet medallions and kabobs, using his years of training to make exceptional presentations, according to Barringer-Tenchipe.

Seared opens Friday.

“We are excited to bring something new and different to the neighborhood,” she said.

True Rest

Have you ever imagined floating, weightless in a quiet space? Do you think that might help with pain? Stress? Tiredness? Maria Dernocoeur, owner of True Rest in Albuquerque has the answer: float therapy.

Dernocoeur is an energetic, vibrant woman who seems to always be laughing, so it seems a bit odd that she would open a facility dedicated to calm and isolation. But Dernocoeur has a good explanation.

“I am a high-energy person. But you won’t recognize me after I float. People are like, ‘Who is this woman? She is so quiet,'” Dernocoeur said.

True Rest, a Phoenix-based franchise, will open its first New Mexico location in mid-September at the Shops at Holly at Paseo del Norte and San Pedro NE. The float therapy spa is 3,200 square feet with six private suites, each with its own eight-foot extended flotation pod.

The pods are filled with 400 gallons of water and between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt, then heated to 93 degrees. Dernocoeur said, “It is like floating in the Dead Sea.” The salt causes buoyancy, and the customer can effortlessly float with zero pressure points on the body for a 60-minute session.

Dernocoeur is a former oncology nurse who quit eight years ago to raise a family. Her husband, Jim, co-owner of Albuquerque’s True Rest, is still a physician’s assistant in the ER.

Jim said the couple were attracted to the franchise partly by their desire to help people with medical problems and stress. “Maria was looking around for a franchise and she noticed this and said, ‘What do you think about this?’ And I said, ‘Well, I used to do that back in the (1980s) when I used to work as a paramedic in Denver and found it extremely helpful in a high-stress job.'”

According to Dernocoeur, flotation therapy helps with PTSD, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular problems, pain management and stress, among other ailments. Jim said athletes often use the process for muscle recovery.

Walk-in float appointments are $79, and True Rest offers a membership program with monthly fees ranging from $59 to $180. On the 11th of every month, the Dernocoeurs give free sessions to veterans on a first-come basis.

Winning Coffee Co.

Winning Coffee Co., on Harvard just south of the University of New Mexico, is changing owners.

Former owners Sandra Timmerman and Richard van Schouwen sold the popular college hangout to Chris Jacobsen, a former business partner. The couple had owned the coffee shop since 2003.

Jacobsen said in a news release that he plans to move the company toward an employee-owned cooperative. In the meantime, Jacobsen said, he plans to retain all staff and eventually pull out of ownership once the employees are ready to take over.

“We have a variety of economic goals to meet before we can switch over (to an employee-owned cooperative) but we hope to do so in the near future,” Jacobsen said.

According to Jacobsen, Winning will make minor changes to the menu but will try to keep much the same. “We are just building on something that was already successful,” he said.

Winning Coffee Co. has struggled in the recent past due to construction of the city’s ART bus project, but a grass-roots campaign driven by community support helped it survive, according to the release.

In other news:

• Poki Poki, a Latin-fusion restaurant, has opened its second location on the southwest corner of Comanche and Wyoming NE. Poki Poki is the first business to open in the new development. The restaurant, which serves Poke Bowls, a dish associated with Hawaii, has another location on Central in the Brick Light District.

• Quanz Auto Care, a Rio Rancho-based company, will open a third location in October. The new location, near N.M 528 and Rockaway, will add 15 employees to the company’s current 68-person workforce.

• Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy is opening a satellite academy today in Rio Rancho at 1001 Golf Course NW. The 3,600-square-foot school will accommodate 84 students. Graduates will have the opportunity to work at Toni & Guy’s main location in ABQ Uptown.

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