When she was in high school, Casey Armstrong-Lange set a few goals for herself: Earn a business degree, get a culinary arts education and open her own restaurant.
The Albuquerque native finally has completed the trifecta.
Armstrong-Lange and husband Gary Lange opened their own steakhouse, Kasey’s, earlier this month. The 96-seat restaurant at the eastern edge of Nob Hill builds upon the couple’s combined 30-plus years of experience in the food business.
“I love it. It’s so much fun. I have fun every day,” says Armstrong-Lange, who has a business degree from University of New Mexico and studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. “I have a great team, (and) it’s fun to see everything come together – all the planning, months and months of planning.
“It’s nice to have it finally open and have people come and enjoy my food.”
The owners have colorful food backgrounds that include work at traditional restaurants as well as on cruise liners touring the Hawaiian islands and at a resort at Denali National Park in Alaska.
They could have steered their first restaurant in many different directions but ran with a steakhouse idea based on their location – a barn-shaped building Armstrong-Lange’s father and uncle have owned for several years. A chicken restaurant decades ago, the structure has had subsequent lives as a bridge club and an aquarium store. A four-month renovation overhauled the interior, which now boasts a clean, open aesthetic.
But you “can’t really get away from the barn shape of the building, so you figure you just play it up,” Armstrong-Lange says. “But a steakhouse has always been a need, I think, for this part of the Nob Hill neighborhood.”
Kasey’s – which sources its beef from Deming – offers hand-cut New York strip, ribeye and filet steak options for dinner ($17-25, including mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables). Other entrees include braised short ribs ($17) and pork chops ($22).
Burgers and sandwiches dominate the lunch menu, including a croque madame ($9.50) and pub cheeseburger on pretzel bun ($10.50).
Armstrong-Lange actually lists a salad and appetizer as signature dishes thus far: the coffee-rubbed steak salad with blueberry vinaigrette ($12) and the red chile pulled pork egg rolls ($8) featuring Taos pork have won early fans, she says.
Kasey’s also serves beer and wine, and currently offers eight wines on tap.
“The wine on tap (has) been really cool,” Gary Lange says. “People are really taking a liking to it. I think it’s curiosity at first, then they try it and say ‘This is really good.'”
Kasey’s is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and for brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. It’s located at 400 Washington SE, just north of Zuni. The phone number is 241-3801.
So long, Lumpy’s…
High meat prices and “location issues” have prompted Lumpy’s Burgers to close its doors after about five years in business.
Lumpy’s Burgers served its last patty in late November at 10131 Coors NW. The restaurant had been in its Cottonwood Mall-area location for three years, though it actually originated in 2010 as a walkup-window eatery near Central and Old Coors SW.
Jason Mancini, who owned Lumpy’s with brother-in-law Jay Kennedy, says multiple factors contributed to the restaurant’s demise. He cites rising beef prices as the primary culprit. As a single-location, independent restaurant, Lumpy’s struggled with the mounting costs, he says, especially when his area competition includes some high-volume burger chains.
“We just can’t buy beef at the prices the guys we’re competing with (can),” he says.
Mancini also cited the restaurant’s location, which is set back a little from busy Coors Boulevard. While Lumpy’s had its share of loyal fans, “I think just people not seeing us everyday kind of hurt us,” he says.
Interestingly, Mancini says Lumpy’s has garnered some extra attention in recent months. The developers of the video game “Titanfall” included the restaurant’s logo in a scene. Mancini says Lumpy’s has “kind of a cult following” as a result that he’d like to use to his advantage somehow some day.
“Right now, it’s the end (of Lumpy’s),” he says, “but we’ll see.”
Au revoir, Le Cafe Miche
In another bit of closing news, Le Café Miche recently ended its second Albuquerque run.
Chef Claus Hjortkjaer and wife Linda revived the French restaurant in 2013, taking up residence at 228 Gold SW in Downtown Albuquerque. The couple had operated Le Café Miche in a different Albuquerque location from 1996-2008. Claus had said bankruptcy forced him to close the first time around but that he’d had “an old love affair” with the restaurant and welcomed the chance to bring it back.
The circumstances surrounding the most recent closure remain unclear – Hjortkjaer hasn’t returned a Journal message, and building owner Doug Peterson says the restaurant “left without giving notice to the landlord” and that the space is now being marketed by Bo Galles of Peterson Properties LLC.
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