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Santa Fe Bite will replace famed Bobcat Bite eatery

SANTA FE, N.M. — Get ready for the Santa Fe Bite, green chile cheeseburger lovers.

The operators of the Bobcat Bite, who are leaving the iconic roadside diner on the eastern edge of Santa Fe, are moving downtown with a new name.

The Bobcat’s Bonnie Eckre said Friday the new diner will be located in the restaurant space at Garrett’s Desert Inn at Old Santa Fe Trail and West Alameda, and will be called the Santa Fe Bite.

She and husband John Eckre hope to have the new place open by the end of July.

Bonnie Eckre said the couple has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from Bobcat fans since they announced last month that Sunday would be their last day of serving their nationally famous burgers, as well as steaks and other fare.

“I have never felt so much love and enthusiasm from a community before,” Bonnie said.

The Eckres’ departure after 12 years of running the Bobcat Bite results from a dispute with Mark Panzer, owner of the rustic Bobcat building on Old Las Vegas Highway that originally was a trading post. Panzer’s mother, Mitzi Panzer, first opened the restaurant in 1953 and it has passed through other operators over the years.

Panzer said last month that, with his mother in ill health, he had no immediate plans to find new operators for the Bobcat.

The little mom and pop eatery regularly gets attention when foodie magazines and TV shows attempt to determine the country’s best burger.

The Eckres will keep the menu at the downtown location similar to the Bobcat’s, Bonnie Eckre said. But with a larger kitchen and more seating space at Garrett’s, there will also be additions.

“I’m looking forward to milk shakes,” she said.

For Sunday’s last day for the Eckres at the Bobcat, the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. And getting a final cheeseburger there will help a good cause – proceeds from Sunday’s sales benefit Kitchen Angels, which provides free meals to the homebound.