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Mac’s Steak in the Rough back in expansion mode

The current Mac's Steak in the Rough on Menaul, pictured, has been slammed. Now owners are opening a new location in Rio Rancho. (Albuquerque Journal File Photo)

The current Mac’s Steak in the Rough on Menaul, pictured, has been slammed. Now owners are opening a new location in Rio Rancho. (Albuquerque Journal File Photo)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It had to get smaller before it could get bigger.

But now Mac’s Steak in the Rough — which has a 66-year history in New Mexico — is growing again. The venerable brand will add a second location later this month in Rio Rancho. It will take over a 3,000-square-foot restaurant space in Latitudes, a high-end gas/convenience store along N.M. 528 across from Intel.

The spot was last used by Taco John’s, a Wyoming-based chain that closed last fall after only a six-month run.

LeeAnna Fresquez, who will own the Rio Rancho Mac’s with her parents, said it will offer traditional Mac’s favorites like steak-in-the-rough, hamburgers and onion rings but also branch out into breakfast offerings, including burritos, huevos rancheros and waffles. The location will have room for about 40 seats, she said, but has no drive-through.

Mac’s had five restaurants when the Fresquez family bought the chain in 1991, but they gradually shuttered four as leases at the various properties expired. Fresquez said the family poured its energy into the only current location — 4515 Menaul NE — which underwent a total demolition and rebuild in 2011.

“We kind of wanted to rebuild the Mac’s brand and make it more consistent before we committed to more spots,” she said.

That time has come, especially with the Menaul location always being “slammed,” Fresquez said. Mac’s sales are up 27 percent year-to-date , something she said is at least party attributable to some positive national recognition. Earlier this year, Huffington Post singled out the “insanely good chicken-fried steak fingers” at Mac’s in a piece that listed Albuquerque as one of “5 American Cities You Should Visit in 2015.”

Mac’s has since unveiled its own food truck, Mac’s Steak in the Truck, and signed a lease for the new Rio Rancho site, 2401 Rio Rancho SE.

Fresquez said the family will see how the new restaurant fares before committing to any additional locations.

“Right now we’re in a position where we’re looking to grow (but) we want to make sure any growing opportunity will really make sense for us and really maintain that consistency of the brand,” she said.

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