New Mexico State University has reopened a space where students, staff and town residents can all gather for fun and food.
Pete’s Patio, named for NMSU mascot Pistol Pete, recently reopened and has earned national recognition. The cantina-style restaurant was forced to close for more than a year because of the pandemic.
The National Association of College and University Food Services awarded Pete’s Patio the Loyal E. Horton Dining Award bronze for retail sales, medium institution. This category looks at locations on colleges campuses with innovative features and techniques. According to the association website the award “celebrates exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning and new dining concepts.”
Pete’s opened in 2019 and faced an uncertain future and although it’s located outdoors, NMSU dining services general manager Dwayne Wisniewski said they put off opening as a precaution. There were also far less students and staff on campus to serve.
He said the place was designed with students in mind.
“The whole idea is to be student-centric,” he said. “It’s located near living arrangements and they can walk to and from their place of living.”
Pete’s is located in a patio outside the Corbett Center Student Union building and has a walk-up window. There are trees, a fountain, couches and dining tables burrowed into the outdoor space.
Candice Nanco, director of marketing for dining services, said the award committee looks at how the space and business functions as a place where the entire campus community can gather.
“Pete’s is a place where people meet each other that might not have met each other otherwise,” she said. “Staff, students and the local community can mingle there. We have variety of offerings and make sure it includes something for everyone.”
The student newspaper and student-run radio station sponsor weekly events at the venue including trivia, football watch parties and $5 pizza night. This spring semester they will introduce a weekly bingo night.
The eatery has a full-service bar and varied menu. The bar serves up craft cocktails and local beer including university collaborations Bosque Brewing Co.’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 ale, Lescombes Family Vineyards’ Pistol Pete’s Crimson Legacy, Dry Point Distillers’ Pistol Pete’s Six-Shooter whiskey and Cantera Negra tequila.
Coinciding with the reopening, Pete’s Patio introduced a new menu with traditional bar food offerings. There are pizzas, burgers, and appetizers such as wings, tacos, nachos and chile cheese fries.
“Pete’s Patio’s popularity has reached a new level in the fall semester,” Nanco said. “The addition of daily events and specials has really boosted attendance.”
Pete’s Patio is open Monday through Friday from 3 to 10 p.m. and closed on weekends.