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Seafood market kept afloat by new owner

Nancy Chavez-Berg was ready for a life away from the fish counter.

After 31 years slinging shrimp, salmon, sole and more, the

Ryan Hickey, left, is the new owner of Nantucket Shoals Seafood Market. He takes over from Nancy Chavez-Berg, right, who has retired after 31 years in the business. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Ryan Hickey, left, is the new owner of Nantucket Shoals Seafood Market. He takes over from Nancy Chavez-Berg, right, who has retired after 31 years in the business. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

proprietor of Nantucket Shoals Seafood Market posted a sign at her shop late last year to alert customers that she would soon close her doors.

Chavez-Berg had been running the business as a one-woman show for some time – placing the orders, minding the store and even making regular runs to the airport to pick up the hauls flown in from Boston and Portland, Ore.

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Having just turned 70, retirement was calling her name.

Many customers expressed their disappointment, lamenting the loss of a business that originated in 1984 in EDo. But one customer in particular had a plan to keep it alive and contacted her son when she saw the sign.

“She sent me a text message at 10 in the morning,” the 27-year-old Ryan Hickey says of his mom. “She said ‘Nancy’s closing. Are you interested?’ Honestly, it was kind of like, ‘Yeah. I am.’

“I’ve been kind of waiting for something to make my own. It just felt right.”

Hickey – who had most recently been living and working in California – will keep Nantucket Shoals afloat. The Albuquerque native and culinary school graduate had been shopping at the market with his parents since he was 2.

He will relaunch the market – closed for a few weeks during the transition – on Tuesday.

Chavez-Berg says she’s pleased to pass the baton to a new generation, and to Hickey in particular.

“When Ryan came forward, I was so relieved and so happy that it would be continued by a native New Mexican,” she says.

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While Chavez-Berg is decidedly – and proudly – “old school,” the 27-year-old Hickey says he will take a slightly different and more modern approach. He will have a website to assist customers with advance ordering, install a flat-screen TV to advertise special items and make other technological upgrades.

He also intends to greatly expand the store’s array of provisions. He plans to devote a whole wall to the goods that will aid in customers’ at-home meal prep.

The Johnson & Wales culinary arts grad and restaurant industry veteran – who has worked locally as a sous chef at Elaine’s, as well as in Denver, Napa and Southern California – also intends to eventually sell fresh pasta.

But he says the fish will always rule at Nantucket Shoals.

“We are going to do a higher volume – or try to – but it has to be about quality,” he says.

Nantucket Shoals is located at 5415 Academy NE, east of San Mateo. It’s open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Happy new beer, Albuquerque!

The first day of 2016 also marked the first day of business at Sidetrack Brewing Co. The microbrewery opened its Downtown doors on Jan. 1, the culmination of years of talk and planning.

Sidetrack Brewing Co. opened earlier this month at 413 2nd SW. Pictured is Dan Herr, one of the owners. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Sidetrack Brewing Co. opened earlier this month at 413 2nd SW. Pictured is Dan Herr, one of the owners. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Sidetrack – the brainchild of a pair of local architects – is located at 413 2nd SW in a space co-owners Dan Herr and Joe Slagle previously used as headquarters for their Slagleherr Architects firm. (They since have moved that business upstairs.)

“I think the room wanted to be this more than an office,” Herr says from the 40-seat taproom, which is located at street level of a three-level building that dates to the 1940s. Herr says the owners – who also include his wife, Anne O’Neill, and Joe’s wife, Kim Slagle – handled the redesign themselves, but tried to stick with the “mid-century modern industrial” aesthetic the building already had. There’s lots of steel and wood elements, including Joe Slagle’s custom-made tables.

Herr, a longtime home brewer, will lead the beer-making efforts on Sidetrack’s seven-barrel system, though he says others are chipping in. There are currently eight beers available, including Switchgear IPA, Dark Engine Stout and Rail Head Red. (In keeping with the railroad theme, the taps feature railroad-spike handles.)

Sidetrack joins a growing Downtown-area craft beer scene that already includes Boese Brothers Brewery and Back Alley Draft House, and soon will welcome Red Door and Duel Brewing taprooms.

Herr says he and his partners have had a brewery in mind for several years and the idea finally started to take more shape when they bought the building in 2012. But as they took their time game-planning Sidetrack, several other breweries came to life around Albuquerque and even in Downtown.

“There really are lots and lots of breweries opening up – it got to be a little intimidating – but I think the little concentration of breweries in Downtown will be an overall plus,” he says.

Given Albuquerque’s reputation for quality craft beer, Herr says he knows the bar is high for any upstarts. When some of his early batches did not pass muster, he simply threw them out. Albuquerque’s high standards serve as “great motivation for us,” Herr says.

Sidetrack is open 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4-10 p.m. Fridays, 1-10 p.m. Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 288-6468.

Piatanzi, the second

The city’s Piatanzi population is now two.

The new Piatanzi opened recently at 3305 Juan Tabo NE. Matt Lukes, pictured, is the general manager. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The new Piatanzi opened recently at 3305 Juan Tabo NE. Matt Lukes, pictured, is the general manager. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The small-plates Italian restaurant that chef Pete Lukes and wife Maggie launched two years ago near Girard and Indian School NE has added a second location at 3305 Juan Tabo NE.

The Lukes’ nephew, Matt Lukes, will serve as general manager. He has worked in restaurants for the past 19 years, including a teenage job at Pete Lukes’ original endeavor, Terra, and subsequent server jobs at Scalo and La Provence. Matt also spent a year working inside the original Piatanzi.

The Heights restaurant boasts the same menu – including a mix of small and large plates, and pizzas – and a similar look and layout. It is slightly larger, offering about 144 seats inside and a forthcoming patio with mountain views.

The signage boasts the tagline “Bistro & Pizzeria” and Matt Lukes says that was an intentional plan to showcase what he considers its across-the-board appeal. Patrons will find on the menu an herb-marinated grilled quail dish and a hand-rubbed rotisseried half-chicken in lemon-caper sauce. But Piatanzi also accommodates those “who want to come in and watch the game, and have pepperoni pizza and beer,” Matt Lukes says.

The new Piatanzi is located on Juan Tabo NE, between Candelaria and Comanche. It is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The phone number is 296-2340.

In other news:

• ABQ Running Shop has reached the end of the road. The specialty athletic store at 6550 Holly NE is planning to close after nine years in business. Its last date hasn’t been announced, but an employee said it would likely be some time in March.

• The new Walmart Neighborhood Market is now open at 1820 Unser NW. The market is the seventh of its kind in the metro area.

• Albuquerque last week welcomed the third location of Conn’s HomePlus. The new store – which absorbed part of the old Kmart at 4208 Central SW – sells furniture, mattresses, home appliances and electronics.

If you have retail news to share, contact me at jdyer@abqjournal.com or 823-3864. For more regular updates on Albuquerque shopping and restaurant news, visit my blog at abqjournal.com or follow @abqdyer on Twitter.

 

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