ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A Nob Hill restaurant that got national attention on the Food Network for its struggles is now fighting a different battle, and this time, it’s with neighbors over patios and parking.
The Shade Tree Cafe and custom motorcycle shop wants to open a patio it built in the alleyway behind its business. However, the local neighborhood association thinks it will cause more parking problems throughout the already packed restaurant and retail scene.
“Just wanted a place you know for people to eat outside,” said Ryan Greer, a co-owner of Shade Tree Customs and Café on Central near Carlisle.
Greer and the other owners of Shade Tree Café have already finished building their outdoor patio, but now they want customers to actually be able to use it.
“It’s an open air patio, out of the back of the building,” said Greer in an interview with KRQE News 13 on Thursday.
The restaurant saw some national recognition back in January when celebrity chef Robert Irvine filmed an episode of the Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible” inside of the struggling business. Irvine even discussed plans with the business owners to draw more of a crowd into the business by showcasing the motorcycle shop to restaurant customers.
“We can go through this door, downstairs, there’s a hallway there, we’re developing a patio outback,” said Greer on the January episode.
During the episode, Irvine pushed Shade Tree’s owners to open the outdoor restaurant space which the business says it wants to use to seat 50 people.
However, now nearly a year since the patio was finished with construction, it remains closed.
“Everyday people are wondering when the patio will be open,” said Matthew Dill, general manager of the restaurant.
The restaurant says it’s because of a disagreement with the Nob Hill Neighborhood Association over parking.
“I think we have done our part,” said Greer.
While, the city approved Shade Tree’s permits and gave them the OK to pave over four alleyway parking spaces, the neighborhood association is now asking the city to reverse that decision in a meeting next week.
Even though it’s already built, the neighborhood association is now asking Shade Tree to cut down on the size of its patio. According to this appeal, the neighborhood association thinks if this patio is allowed at its current size, more businesses will apply for outdoor patios exceptions and cause parking problems.
The neighborhood association also says the patio’s size gives the restaurant “an unfair advantage” over other neighboring smaller patios.
The restaurant disagrees. “A lot of our neighbors have multiple locations, bigger facilities, even bigger patios in other parts of town,” said Greer.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the president of the Nob Hill Neighborhood Association on Thursday afternoon for comment, but did not hear back.
The city appeals board is expected to decide Tuesday about whether or not the patio can open up. If the board decides against the business, they’ll likely be forced to tear out the patio’s concrete and benches and return it to parking spaces.