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          Front Page




Cafe Oaxaca Prepares To Open This Week

By Charlotte Balcomb Lane
Journal Staff Writer
    A landmark 1970s-era sports bar and restaurant in Downtown is getting a new lease on life as a restaurant and bar called Cafe Oaxaca.
    The bar at 10th and Central NW, which has been vacant for almost a year, is undergoing a renovation that is adding patio seating and landscaping.
    Art Walker, a longtime Albuquerque pub owner, is a partner in the project. Until last year, Walker was a co-owner with his late partner Kenny Wright in the now-defunct Rio Grande Cantina. In February, Wright, 57, died suddenly of an abdominal aneurysm.
    In 2003, the pair had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court protection for the popular 20-year-old bar, citing rent and parking disputes with the landlord of the Rio Grande Plaza.
    Wright's widow, Magda Garcia-Wright, is a partner with Walker in the Cafe Oaxaca, which is expected to open by Thursday.
    Patterned after the Rio Grande Cantina, Cafe Oaxaca will have a menu of New Mexican food, a full liquor license and a new patio along Central Avenue. The interior of the 6,600-square-foot building is also getting a makeover. Floor-to-ceiling windows replace the tiny slits that had served as windows during the building's phase as a Famous Sam's sports bar. There is also a new fireplace in one corner.
    Tom Viviani of Viviani Construction is handling the remodeling.
    Walker said the building was in surprisingly good shape considering its age. It required new stucco and some roof repairs, but many of the changes were cosmetic.
    Walker is convinced the new venture will be a success because it's close to Downtown and has ample, on-site parking.
    "We are fortunate we're the closest place to Downtown with parking," Walker said.