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O’Niell’s partners to open new sports bar

oniellsjournalfileALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — O’Niell’s in Nob Hill is getting a new neighbor, and it’s a sports bar called Gioco.

Gioco — the latest project from O’Niell’s business partners Rob O’Niell and Robert Munro — should open by the time the 2014 NFL season kicks off this fall, Munro said.

Construction has begun on the 100-seat establishment, which will take over about 1,500 square feet of former event space next to O’Niell’s. New construction will nearly double the space, located at 4310 Central SE.

“Although we loved it as an event space and it was great for the community, it just was not the highest, best use for the property,” Munro said. “I’ve always wanted to do a sports bar and so this was my opportunity.”

From cushy seats to higher-end eats — think artisinal pizza and lasagna sliders — Munro said Gioco will offer a different take on the sports bar concept.


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“I hope that it’s a restaurant that is attractive to a very broad audience, including the female audience that loves to watch sporting events, but they want a slightly different (feel),” he said.

Gioco — Italian for “game” — builds on some recent retail momentum in East Nob Hill and the adjacent Hiland neighborhood. The commercial strip just east of O’Niell’s recently has welcomed new retail tenants such as Kouture Konsignment. Just to the west, Nu Asia Vegan Restaurant recently filled a vacancy created when Cosmo Tapas closed last year.

Munro, also president of Nob Hill Main Street, called his business partner O’Niell a “trailblazer” for planting the Irish Pub there in 2006.

“I think East Nob Hill is hopefully on the verge of burgeoning into something special, and Rob’s vision for that space being viable (for a pub) was part of that,” Munro said.