The curse that plagued a string of restaurants at 1789 Central Ave., appears to have finally ended. Diners are flocking to this location since local restaurateur Melissa Paternoster moved her popular Blue Window Bistro there earlier this month.
“We’ve had record breaking sales every single day,” she said. “The support of this community has been incredible … I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.”
That success hasn’t been the case for several years. Former Los Alamos businessman Min Park operated Central Avenue Grill in that space. He went into bankruptcy in March of 2012. Denise Lane took over the space in July of that year and named it The Dixie Girl. She sold the restaurant to Victor and Patricia Medina in November 2013. They launched a “name the restaurant” survey through the Los Alamos Daily Post. “The Manhattan Project” came out the winner. A bankruptcy judge ordered Medina to close the doors in May 2015. Brian Appell launched his eatery there in October 2015 and called it High Elevation. His landlord took back possession of the space in May 2016.
Central Park Square owner Philip Kunsberg purchased the building last summer that houses 1789 Central Ave., as well as Star Bucks, Ruby K’s Bagel Café, Southwest Office Solutions and Hilltop Spa. He is leasing the space to Paternoster and has been renovating and upgrading the interior and exterior of the entire building.
“I just couldn’t stand to see the building deteriorating,” Kunsberg said at the time, adding that the newly purchased building will be an extension of Central Park Square. He is renovating the building and his maintenance crew will maintain it.
Kunsberg predicted Paternoster’s success. “Melissa is known for operating a very professional, high quality restaurant and I know she is going to do very well in this new location,” he said. “Her track record of professionalism has earned her the respect of the community and I know she is going to make a great success of her restaurant in this location and be here for many years to come.”
The Blue Window Bistro served its last meal Friday, Jan. 6 at its old location in Mari Mac Shopping Center and began serving lunch Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the new location down the street in the heart of downtown Los Alamos.
Her newly renovated eatery features décor reminiscent of the old location and the menu favorites remain the same.
“People love how it is and it’s very important to me that I don’t lose touch with that,” she said. “We really want our guests to feel like they are eating at the same Blue Window but just up the street.”
Paternoster has expanded her staff to 27 in the larger location. Dixie Paternoster has come on board to handle bookkeeping for her busy daughter.
“I am so happy to have her here working with me,” Paternoster said. “She’s taking care of the paperwork and that allows me to focus on the rest of the operation.”
The larger restaurant has movable walls and ample space for events. The Craig Martin Experience played Saturday night to a packed house.
Paternoster thanked the construction crews who renovated her new space, the county and the fire marshal for their guidance and professionalism. They all worked to help her get her restaurant opened in a timely fashion, she said.
“I appreciate them all for helping me and for going the extra mile,” she said.
Paternoster was born and raised in Los Alamos. She moved to Albuquerque for a few years after graduating from Los Alamos High School, but moved back shortly before buying the restaurant 6.5 years ago.
“I came back to Los Alamos because I love it here. I love the people that live here, I love being close to the mountains,” she said. “I love seeing deer and elk moving through my yard, I love being able to escape to the cool mountains when it’s hot in the summer.”
She was actually working as a hostess at the Blue Window before she bought it.
“I loved everything about the restaurant from my first day, so when I found out the owner was ready to sell, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to buy it.”
Paternoster gives much credit to her staff. Many have been with her for several years.
“I have the best staff in the world and I can’t imagine doing this without their support,” she said. “They are all incredibly talented and we are all very close, and I think that’s part of the reason we are so successful. I want all my employees to feel encouraged, supported, comfortable and most importantly, to enjoy what they do. If my employees are happy here every day, it shows up in everything they do.”
To learn more about the Blue Window Bistro, visit labluewindowbistro.com or call 505.662.6305.