By Stephani Dingreville
Villagers have been wondering about the seeming halt to construction happening at the much anticipated Local Motive restaurant site on Corrales Road. According to Shannon Byrne, one of the founders of the proposed restaurant, the setbacks have been result of many factors. Shipment of certain materials and equipment needed to move forward with construction has suffered a nearly six-month delay, thanks to those pesky COVID supply chain issues that have brought so many projects to a halt. Byrne also says the “complicated nature of building a kitchen for a full-service restaurant in a building that has not been updated in over 30 years” is a factor in the delay of opening. Lastly is the need for site development plan approval from the Village.
This is where Laurie Stout comes in. She is the Planning and Zoning Administrator for the Village, and it is her job to help businesses put together the proposals they will bring in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Helping businesses work through the red tape and put together a full, appealing package to show the commission is the part of her job she likes best. Stout has helped countless businesses gain approval from the P&Z commission. She reports the plans for Local Motive were not quite finished to get them in front of the board during the September meeting, which filled up quickly. They were instead pushed to the October 20 meeting. According to Stout, the construction cannot move forward until these plans are approved.
In spite of having to move the target date for opening from fall 2021 to spring 2022, the founders’ enthusiasm for the project has not waned, nor has their vision changed. Byrne says their vision “is to create an iconic, memorable café experience in the Village of Corrales that is worthy of the unique and inclusive character of the community.” The menu will be “simple yet comprehensive, utilizing local goods where possible.”
Byrne says the restaurant plans to offer breakfast until 2 p.m. “including fresh juices,” and lunch/dinner items such as “salads, sandwiches, pasta and other entrees” until the doors close at 9 p.m. Byrne adds “we will also have ice cream and locally inspired desserts like apple pie.”
Also of interest is the Corrales-focused nature of the space. Byrne says, “Because we’re proud to be a part of the Corrales community, we’ll feature things that make our village unique —a special wall dedicated to the Pet Mayors of Corrales, as well as a community tile project to be featured on the exterior wall facing Corrales Road. We’ll also look for opportunities to collaborate with the school, church and other businesses to ensure we form an integral part of our community.”
Community will be the focus of the restaurant, and to that end, Byrne says they would “like to offer beer and wine to enhance that fabulous experience.” According to Stout, this might create further delays for the opening. She predicts a second public hearing will be necessary after the October 20 meeting “to discuss the alcohol issue.”
The restaurant’s proximity to Corrales Elementary School may mean the founders will need special permission from Albuquerque Public Schools to serve beer and wine. At the corner of Perea and Corrales Roads, the restaurant site sits just across the street from the school. APS Associate Superintendent Amanda DeBell says there is a State statute that requires at least 300 feet distance between a school and a business selling alcohol.
This statute, number 60-6B-10, is found in the 1978 Compilation of the New Mexico State Statutes Annotated. There it is stated: “A license may be granted for a proposed licensed premises if a person has obtained a waiver from a local option district governing body for the proposed licensed premises. For the purposes of this section, all measurements taken in order to determine the location of licensed premises in relation to churches or schools shall be the straight line distance from the property line of the licensed premises to the property line of the church or school.”
As clear as this document seems, it could actually be a cloudy issue that might just come down to the location of Local Motive’s front door. This was the case in 2012 for a Giant convenience store, located in Santa Fe.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that the store wanted to begin selling alcohol, but the City Council voted against giving them a license because of the store’s proximity to Sweeney Elementary School. The store appealed the decision, and the case went all the way up to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, where a judge decided the store could indeed proceed with selling alcohol because the front door of the establishment was more than 300 feet away from the front door of the school.
Obviously, a cafe selling beer and wine is very different from a convenience store selling liquor. In Byrne’swords, “Our goal is for Local Motive to be a place to gather, to socialize, to share food, a glass of wine, and stories. It’s most certainly not a bar.”
The village will be watching and waiting for this new venture to come rolling in.