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Los Cuates has plans for old Yacht Club

riograndeyachtclubfromrobertoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The owners of a New Mexican food chain have a project on deck at the old Rio Grande Yacht Club.

Los Cuates has purchased the site on Yale Boulevard with plans to build a new restaurant, according to Los Cuates partner Dennis Carpenter. The project — which he said would cost an estimated $1.6 million — will include a teardown of the vacant 20,000-square-foot building and construction of a new building on the site, which measures a little more than an acre. Carpenter said the new Los Cuates would be about 7,500 square feet and have a sports bar component.

Carpenter said work should begin at the Yacht Club property by this summer, but the new restaurant is probably still a year away.

The Rio Grande Yacht Club, located south of Gibson near the Albuquerque International Sunport, opened in 1981. It was rebranded the Yacht Club Chophouse & Grill after a 2002 ownership change, but that restaurant closed in 2005.

The building — which also boasted racquetball courts — had more recently been used as office space but is currently vacant, said John Youngblood, the commercial real estate broker who handled its sale.

Los Cuates has four other locations, three in Albuquerque and one in Sandia Park. Carpenter said he and his partners have never built a ground-up Los Cuates before, typically remodeling existing buildings to open new restaurants. But the Yacht Club structure is too big and aged, he said.

“To refurbish it would be more expensive than to tear it down and build a new building,” he said.

Proximity to the airport and about 1,900 hotel rooms attracted the restaurant company to the property, Carpenter said, as did the area’s residential population that includes a growing number of college students.

“The demographics are just phenomenal,” he said.