But what people really craved, he says, was … another sports bar.
Munro obliged, recently relaunching what had once been Gioco with a new vision and new name, Rob’s Place at O’Niell’s.
“We utilized it as an event space for a while, (but) after giving it some thought and getting feedback from customers who really enjoyed watching their games in there, we decided to reopen it as Rob’s Place at O’Niell’s,” Munro says. “It was basically listening to our customers and reacting to what they wanted.”
Munro and partner Rob O’Niell own Albuquerque’s two O’Niell’s Irish pubs and, in the summer of 2014, they decided to open Gioco in some space next door to their Nob Hill location. It never achieved full bloom. Though it had its own pizza-centric menu, it shared a kitchen with O’Niell’s and patrons consistently opted to order O’Niell’s meals instead of Gioco grub.
Gioco shuttered in April and Munro began renting the 3,000-square-foot space to private groups.
But customers lamented the loss of the sports bar, especially since O’Niell’s has no TVs and, Munro says, never will.
Gioco, on the other hand, had 16 TVs – nearly one for every four seats – including one with a 130-inch screen.
“There was always a segment of people who said ‘I’d love to watch the game with my burger or my fish and chips, so we decided we should come up with some solution, which was to put an auxiliary place next door,” Munro says.
Rob’s Place is “part and parcel” of O’Niell’s, Munro says, and serves only the O’Niell’s menu. The space remains mostly as it did during its Gioco run, albeit with a couple new additions – a pool table and dart board.
It opened last week, Munro says, to give patrons a place to catch the Olympic Games action.
It opens at 4 p.m. daily.
It is located at 4310 Central SE, near Washington.
Is Ned’s dead?
Ned’s Bar & Grill went dark earlier this month, shutting down suddenly without posting notice on its front door or its website.
The bar’s phone number has been disconnected, and the Journal ‘s attempts to reach owners Libby Ronquillo-Acosta and David Ronquillo-Acosta have been unsuccessful.
But don’t be surprised if Ned’s makes some kind of comeback, according to Ken Gattas. Gattas, whose father started the venerable business more than 50 years ago, says it may have more life yet.
Though Gattas sold the business last year, he says he remains the master lease holder on the property and is considering a way to revive it at 2509 San Mateo NE.
“What we’re looking into is the possibility of turning it into strictly a night club, music venue (and) opening a few nights a week with live entertainment,” he says.
The San Mateo site was the sixth stop Ned’s has had in its lifetime. Gattas reopened it there in 2013 after a journey that included previous incarnations in Uptown, the North Valley and elsewhere around town. He sold it last year.
“I mentioned once before this was going to be the last Ned’s, but I don’t know,” says Gattas, who expects to know more in the coming weeks.
Gattas says he’s already fielded numerous questions about Ned’s food – specifically the sandwiches – and whether they will come back, too. He says he’s considering a way to get them back on the market, perhaps partnering with another restaurant.
Dugan’s winding down
The sun is setting on a longtime Albuquerque garden shop.
Dugan’s Pottery Yard will close next month after nearly 20 years in business, as its site along Alameda gets readied for redevelopment.
Closeout sales are underway at the outdoor store, which still has a large array of planters, fountains, statues and rustic benches. Owner Bob Dugan says he has no plans to relocate as zoning makes it difficult to set up a similar outdoor bazaar elsewhere.
“It’s wonderful in an outdoor setting; it loses a lot if it’s in a big building,” he says. “The plants do not belong inside at all. They’ll die from lack of light.”
Dugan’s opened in early 1997 as a nursery, though he gradually winnowed his plant inventory so as not to compete with nearby Jericho Nursery. He continued to sell some native plants, yuccas and cacti, but gradually steered his selection more toward pottery and garden items.
He says he’s not quite ready to retire, but doesn’t want to complain about the situation.
“I’d just rather go out with love toward my clients and terrific people who have kept us going for the last 20 years,” he says.
Dugan’s is located at 395 Alameda NW.
In other news …
• In case you missed it, Twisters is growing. In addition to the newly opened restaurant in a converted Starbucks at 5501 Montgomery NE, the company is also planning to move into a former Long John Silver’s on Central near San Mateo this fall.
• Wild Birds Unlimited has nested on the West Side. The chain recently opened a new location at 10701 Corrales NW, joining Sprouts and more in the Corrales Shopping Center. It is open daily. The phone number is 717-1385.
• As I recently reported online, Dunkin’ Donuts will celebrate the grand opening of its first new, full-service Albuquerque location on Wednesday. The store, located at 2301 Juan Tabo NE, will be open 24/7 and have a drive-thru.
If you have retail news to share, contact me at email@example.com or 823-3864. For more on Albuquerque shopping and restaurant news, visit my blog at abqjournal.com or follow @abqdyer on Twitter.