The time has come, 72 years later, for The Pantry to stake a claim in downtown Santa Fe.
Dubbed Pantry Rio, the popular Santa Fe restaurant is taking over the space at Alameda and Galisteo streets that was filled by Restaurant L’Olivier until late last month. Pantry co-owner Stan Singley and business partner Max Myers committed to the space in early September.
A “Pantry Restaurant. Coming in October!” banner went up Monday.
Singley is hoping to open Oct. 1 but has no guarantees.
“We didn’t let any grass grow under our feet,” he said.
The restaurant will start with breakfast and lunch, with about the same menu as the original Pantry on Cerrillos Road, and add dinner service later.
The Pantry has been at Cerrillos and Fifth Street since 1948. One year ago this week, son and co-owner Michael Singley opened Pantry Dos in Oshara Village on the city’s south side.
Stan Singley said he wasn’t looking for a downtown opportunity, but when L’Olivier announced its closure, he had second thoughts.
“Max called me and said ‘There’s a space available,’ ” Singley said. “We’ve been wanting to do something together again.”
Myers’ father, George Myers, launched The Pantry in 1948, but Max Myers stepped away from the restaurant business when he sold it to Stan and Michael Singley in 2001.
“I have a feeling the tourists will eat at the new place,” Stan Singley said. “It will allow us to backfill the original with locals.”
Singley said the landmark status of The Pantry has driven away some locals as the eatery got firmly rooted on tourists’ bucket lists.
He envisions Pantry Rio becoming a magnet for government workers, tourists and shop owners.
“When we get past COVID, it will be a great location,” Singley said.
“The patio is gorgeous. We are continuing what [L’Olivier] had going with the wisteria.”
In normal times, The Pantry would be overflowing with customers.
Now with state-mandated 25 percent maximum indoor dining and staffing reduced from 56 to about 25 people, Pantry Rio is as much a way to get furloughed employees working as it is a business expansion, Singley said.
“With COVID, we had to cut back on our staff,” he said. “We had many trained and experienced employees. We were able to take a couple [of former] employees and give them manager and assistant manager positions.
“We will probably start with 10 at the new place for breakfast and lunch. I’m guessing we will have 15 to 20 in spring and 10 to 12 to do dinner. We’re going to try to bring all our furloughed employees back either at the original or the new Pantry.”