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Bye-Bye Blues Club; Say 'Ciao' To Chow's

By Rivkela Brodsky
Of the Journal
          Signs of retail life have returned to the northwest corner of Carlisle and Central NE.
        After sitting empty for several years, the former Club Rhythm and Blues at 3523 Central NE is under construction to become another Chow's Asian Bistro.
        "We're completely renovating that space," said Jason Zeng, co-owner of the new location. "It's an eyesore right now."
        The Zeng family is spending $500,000 to give the 2,500-square-foot space a whole new look. When they are done with it, the building will have a new roof, new piping, new electrical wiring, two patios, a fire pit and an additional 400 square feet to fit it all.
        Set to open in May, the restaurant entrance will be on Central, have its own parking lot to the west of the building and feature a larger kitchen than the other Chow's locations. It will also feature solar panels on the roof, Zeng said.
        He also said the eatery will also have a different concept from the other locations, but declined to explain. There's no need to worry though. Zeng said you will be able to find all your Chow's menu favorites at the new location as well as some new dishes.
        Zeng, who owns the location with his father Richard Zeng, said he had been wanting to open a location in Nob Hill for the past three years.
        "I like Nob Hill," he said. "I just always did."
        The building has quite a history, starting as a gas station in the 1930s and later becoming an Indian restaurant, which gave the building its distinctive decorative tower. The city would not let the family take down the tower because of its iconic presence, Zeng said, so they plan on putting chop sticks on top of it.
        The building opened in the 1990s as Club Rhythm and Blues, operating successfully until it closed in 2004. The building sat empty for years after that before Zeng saw something in it.
        He said the space may be a ugly on the outside, but "when I went inside it had good bones."
        This will be the second Albuquerque location for the locally owned Chinese restaurant and the third in the state. The Zeng family opened a Chow's in Santa Fe in 1994 and another Northeast Heights location in 1999. A location at Cottonwood Mall opened in 2005.
        The Heights location closed in 2009 and is now operating as Asian Cafe.
        Hours at the Cottonwood location are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Call the Cottonwood location at 899-6889.
        Call the Santa Fe location at 505-471-7120. or for more, visit www.mychows.com.
        Rooms is back
        Rooms has made its return to the retail scene in Albuquerque.
        After a seven-year hiatus, the store has reopened in a smaller location near Lomas and Carlisle NE on Dec. 1.
        It sells furniture, home accessories and gifts in 625 square feet at 621 Amherst NE. Owner Ann Kerns ran a similar store in 2,300 square feet in the Northeast Heights for 11 years before closing it seven years ago.
        Why get back in the business?
        "I got bored," she told the Journal. "I thought this little place is so manageable and I love it down here. I think Albuquerque needs more small stores."
        When the Journal took a tour of the space earlier this month, there were peacock pillows, watch clocks, an old Corona typewriter, leather chairs, framed maps, vases, charms, jewelry and more. Prices range from $12 for a charm to $1,400 for leather chairs.
        Keep in mind that merchandise will often change, Kerns said.
        "I think we'll have something for everybody," she said.
        Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call the shop at 266-6022.
        Museum cafe closes
        Don't count on any eats at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
        The M Cafe, which has been at the museum serving breakfast, lunch and dessert since April 2007, closed last month, breaking its contract with the museum's foundation, said Jotina Trussell, foundation president and CEO.
        "I was very sorry to see them go," she said. "Their contract was for five years, but you know how the economy has been."
        Chuck Parlapiano, who owned the cafe with his wife Christina, said attendance at the museum "has slowed down considerably in the last couple of years."
        Parlapiano said the couple is looking to open a similar concept in another location, but nothing is set yet.
        Trussell said the foundation is looking to bring in another eatery to the museum, but the foundation board has yet to make any decisions. She expects there will be another vendor at the museum in late spring. Proceeds from the cafe are shared with the foundation and the museum, she said.
        Look here for updates.
        New Pilates studio
        Momentum Studio, which has offered Pilates and Gyrotonic classes in the Northeast Heights for seven years, has opened a second location in the Nob Hill area.
        The 1,770-square-foot studio opened Wednesday at 3001 Monte Vista NE. The location will offer group and private classes in Pilates, Gyrotonic and Feldenkrais, according to a news release announcing the opening.
        Owners Bryan and Aline Alexander purchased Momentum Studios seven years ago and opened a Heights location at 10900 Menaul NE Suite J. That studio has grown to 4,000 square feet over the years.
        To attend a class, you must call the location to make an appointment or reservation. Call the Heights location at 296-4080 and the Nob Hill location at 256-1144. Visit the studio online at www.momentumstudio.com.
        Send me morsels of retail and restaurant news by phone at 823-3820 or e-mail at rbrodsky@abqjournal.com.

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