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Rustic Star to fill burger vacancy in Nob Hill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last month, the Journal reported that Pete’s Frites, a Nob Hill burger joint, had closed its doors.

Welcome its replacement: Rustic Star Burgers will soon take over the 1,800-square-foot property at Central and Tulane NE.

Owner Kelly Adams said it is a nearly perfect space. “Pete’s was a burger place also. It’s kind of a turnkey situation. All of the stuff is still here.”

An 800-square-foot basement that is being used for storage and refrigeration will be converted to more seating at some point.

Rustic Star Burgers occupies a small space at Green Jeans Farmery, but it will open a second location on Central and Tulane NE by the end of September. The local burger joint is known for its lamb and beef gyro burger. (Taylor Hood/Albuquerque Journal)

Adams said he isn’t worried about the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. “Hopefully, it will bring some business,” Adams said.

He said he plans to continue operating the original Green Jeans location.

Expect a Nob Hill opening for the burger spot in roughly two weeks.

Adams and business partner Johnnah Torres began Rustic Star Burgers in 2011 when they purchased a food truck. In 2015, they converted to their brick-and-mortar establishment at Green Jeans Farmery.

Adams said Rustic Star will celebrate its second anniversary in mid-November.

TFK Smokehouse

Another restaurant with food truck roots will soon be opening its doors. TFK Smokehouse is moving into the space formerly occupied by Kasey’s at 400 Washington SE, near Zuni.

Kasey’s closed in June when owners Casey Armstrong-Lange and her husband, Gary, moved to Denver to seek medical treatment for their soon-to-be-born child.

TFK Smokehouse, a local barbecue eatery, has operated out of a food truck since 2012, but it will soon be opening its first permanent location. Its specialty is the Burqueno cheesesteak with smoked prime rib. (Courtesy of Katie Calico)

TFK Smokehouse owners Katie Calico and Chris White, a former sous chef at Slate Street Cafe, are now taking over, and family means just as much to them.

“We were actually prompted to move away from the food truck because of our growing family,” Calico said. “I mean, we operate year round, so when it’s 32 degrees outside, it’s 32 degrees all day.”

The couple have a newborn, as well as a 14-year-old daughter who began helping with the food truck when she was 9.

The transition from food truck to brick-and-mortar comes with other benefits as well.

“It’s a little overwhelming but very exciting,” Calico said. “I mean, the refrigerator is larger than our entire food truck.”

Calico and White are hoping to open the 2,500-square-foot space by the end of the month. In nice weather, Calico said TFK Smokehouse will open up the tree-shaded outdoor patio.

It’s all about the smokehouse concept, Calico said. “We smoke everything from prime rib to pastrami to hand-rolled pork meatballs, but we also do traditional barbecue.”

Lolli & Pops

Coronado Center is getting a sweet new resident. The San Francisco-based Lolli & Pops is billed as a “premium purveyor of candies and confections,” according to a news release.

This is its first location in the Southwest; the company is planning to open 40 more nationwide by the end of 2018.

Lolli & Pops staff members sport bow ties and boat hats, and the stores are covered in intricate calligraphy. The aim is to create an “old-fashioned sweet shoppe aesthetic,” according to the release.

The new 3,500-square-foot store takes up part of the space occupied by Sears before it shrank its presence at Coronado. Many malls across the country have had to search for ways to reinvent spaces as large department store anchors have begun closing.

“We are thrilled to bring Lolli & Pops to Albuquerque and to be a part of the renewal of the Coronado Center,” said Sid Gupta, company CEO and founder.

The candy store first opened in 2012 by the father-and-son team of Raj and Sid Gupta. Its flagship store is in San Francisco, and Lolli & Pops now has 39 stores nationwide.

In other news:

• Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a Texas-based restaurant franchise, is planning to expand its presence in New Mexico with the help of franchisees David Montoya and Soleille Lopez. Dickey’s has five locations in New Mexico under different franchise owners.

Montoya and Lopez have one location in Colorado but have been eager to open Dickey’s locations in their home state, they said in a news release.

They are planning three locations, but addresses have not been determined. The first is slated to open in Albuquerque next spring, with another in Albuquerque by late 2018 and the third to open in Santa Fe in early 2019.

• Forgehdaboudit Pizza of Deming continues to stack up the awards. The family-owned business won several pizza awards in March, and now it can brag about its wings as well.

Forgehdaboudit Pizza took home a first-place trophy for its Maple Bacon Dry Rub and a third-place trophy for its X-Hot Sauce at the 2017 National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, N.Y.

Forgehdaboudit is planning to move into the Las Cruces market in 2018.

• Firehouse Subs, a Florida-based national sandwich restaurant chain, opened at a new location near Winrock on Sept. 6. The restaurant is in the stand-alone building in the northwest corner of the parking lot, near Sauce Pizza & Wine. This is the fourth location in Albuquerque. The restaurant is owned by franchisee Lucas Conner, who owns two other Firehouse locations in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe.

• Shoe Palace, a national shoe store chain, is opening a second location in Coronado Center. The store already has a space for men’s shoes, but the new one will be for women’s and children’s footwear. The retailer will take over some of the space left when Sears downsized at Coronado. An opening date has not been announced.