Get ready for some pastrami proliferation.
California Pastrami — which, despite its name, is a locally owned restaurant— plans to add two more Albuquerque locations in the next few months, perhaps paving the way for eventual franchising.
The sandwich shop has just one location today, at Montgomery and San Pedro NE, but is starting a growth spurt.
It will open a second location, likely next month, at 5211 Gibson SE, a former Filiberto’s. A third is in the works for 10131 Coors NW, a onetime Lumpy’s near Cottonwood Mall.
Both sites are about twice the size of the existing shop and feature drive-throughs. Owner Joe Rodriguez said the expansion will help test his concept, which he said has drawn interest from fans who want to build the brand in outside markets. This will determine whether he wants to proceed with the expensive process of creating a franchise system.
“It’s a test to make sure that our procedures and all of our operations and … all of our systems and procedures are duplicatable,” he said.
California Pastrami originated as a vendor operation at the New Mexico State Fair. It later had a fixed location in Santa Fe, which has since closed.
Rodriguez opened at 6125 Montgomery NE in Albuquerque in 2011, and has developed a strong reputation and garnered a slew of positive customer reviews. (He notes that he’s now the second-ranked Albuquerque restaurant on TripAdvisor.)
He says the California Pastrami menu is a nod to his Southern California roots. He gets the pastrami from a California supplier, and he says it is processed “the old way” in natural slabs. The pastrami sandwiches are among his most popular sellers, as are his Reuben and Philly cheesesteak. But the restaurant also does a variety of other sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, burritos and tacos.
Rodriguez says he’s actively hiring for the expansion, which will likely create between 30 and 40 new jobs.