Sports bar to open in Belen in mid-March

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Residents will have one more place to watch their favorite sports team on the big screen with a beer, steak or a pastry in hand once Moonrakers opens its doors in mid-March on the west side of Interstate 25 in Belen.

City councilors approved the sports bar and bakery's restaurant liquor license at last week's council meeting after holding a public hearing on the matter. This license allows the Santa Fe-based restaurant that will be located at 2100 Camino del Llano to serve only beer and wine for on-premise consumption.

The application will be sent back to the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department's Alcohol and Gaming Division for final approval before the restaurant can open its doors to the public.

The establishment's opening day is dependent upon when they receive this approval, said Moonrakers, Inc. President Keith Mohundro.

The Alcohol and Gaming Division preliminarily approved the issuance of the restaurant's liquor license on Jan. 28 before sending the application for approval to city officials.

"I think its an exciting time for our community to have a nice area where you can go and enjoy and watch a good football game," said Mayor Rudy Jaramillo.

Mohundro's been looking for more than two years for the "perfect spot" for his restaurant in Albuquerque, but found nothing, he said.

Once he spotted the advertisement of the empty restaurant in Belen, he "did his due diligence" and began to scope out the building, as well as size up the market competition.

The full-service restaurant will contain a sports bar complete with big screen TVs, pool tables and video games, an extensive menu with steak, salmon and baby back ribs, plus bar food and a bakery full of flavored cinnamon rolls and assorted cakes and pies.

"It's going to be a good start," Mohundro said. "I'll eventually do something in Albuquerque."

The establishment is located 1.1 miles away from Belen Christian Church and 1.4 miles away from Belen High School, meeting the state criteria of needing to be more than 300 feet away from both entities, said Belen City Clerk Leona Vigil.

The restaurant will occupy the former Jake and Andre's restaurant, which has been vacant for three years, said Nino Trujillo, a real estate broker.

The downturn in the economy and decline in business caused Jake and Andre's to pack up, Jaramillo said.

"The economy and a lot of things that transpired hurt the business," he said.

Mohundro, the sole owner, signed a short term three-year lease for the building with option, Trujillo said.

Moonrakers, Inc. was incorporated in November 2012 and is in "good standing," according to the New Mexico State Public Regulation Commission's Corporations Division website.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.