Hospitality and Entertainment Index - July
Welcome to our monthly review of places to eat, places to stay, and other matters of hospitality, culture, and tourism in greater Downtown. Let's get right to it...
At the brand new Katrina Ice Cream, a blend of cultural inspiration in every bite
The churro shake
Katrina Ice Cream's soft opening last weekend marked a dream come true for owners Hector Andujo and Maria Luisa Coronado. While the shop at Sixth and Central is brand new, they first thought up the idea more than 15 years ago when they were still living in Chihuahua City.

After moving to Albuquerque, Andujo took a bit of a career detour, working on custom home renovation projects with a focus on flooring. He eventually hired a man named Hector Haros to help out, and it proved to be an enduring working relationship. Now, Haros has followed the couple from flooring into the ice cream business, where he takes on a number of jobs including, when certain Downtown-focused newspapers call with questions, interpreter.

"They're saying that back when they lived in Mexico, they had thought of opening an ice cream shop over here," Haros relayed during a recent conversation. "With something different, unique. Like, in their menu, they have ice cream and churros."

The menu includes a milkshake served in a glass mug with sprinkle-coated churros tucked into dollops of whipped cream. While the loops of fried dough are a celebrated feature of Mexican and Spanish cuisine, the combination offers an unusual twist on two classics.

"They actually came up with it," Haros said, relating Andujo's explanation. "He's trying to put more culture into the mix here."

Indeed, Katrina is no ordinary sweets shop: The menu also features boba smoothies, whose chewy tapioca pearls first gained popularity in Taiwan, and a dish called "mangos n' cream." (A pictorial tour of the menu is below and other items are TBD.)

Although the ice creamery is a family business, "Katrina" isn't a family name. It references la Calavera Catrina, the iconic figure of an elegantly dressed skeleton associated with Día de los Muertos

Catrina first appeared in a zinc etching by groundbreaking Mexican lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. When Diego Rivera painted her prominently in a 1947 mural, she skyrocketed to international fame. Since then, people across Mexico have proudly embraced Catrina as a symbol of the country's blended Indigenous and Spanish heritages. 

Andujo and Coronado chose the name to reflect their roots as well as the cross-cultural mix of ingredients on their menu. 

As for switching the "C" to a "K"? Andujo said they changed the spelling just "to have a unique aspect." Another twist, in other words - like churros and ice cream. 

—By Karie Luidens
The banana split
The "churro basket"
Paletas filled with strawberry jelly and caramel
BioPark attendance appears to have returned to a pre-pandemic normal. At the zoo, just over 70,000 people visited, beating 2017 and 2018's figures (though not 2019 - thank the then-new penguins for that one). North of Central, the aquarium's return has brought back thousands of people, boosting the combined attendance with the botanic garden to 45,439 in June, ahead of 2017 but a little behind other recent years (2020 exempted, naturally).
June attendance at the natural history museum cracked the 10,000 mark for the first time since the pandemic started, a trend that will likely be helped along by the reopening of the Dynatheater last week. The special events calendar, however, is still pretty empty.

Over at Albuquerque Museum, attendance was about the same as in May. The Transcendental Painting Group exhibit, however, opened at the end of the month, so that will show up in July's figures. The Eye to I self-portrait exhibit also opened last month.
Hotel occupancy jumps again, nearing 2019 figures
National hotel occupancy rates hit 70 percent during the last week of June,  just 7.3 percentage points under a comparable baseline set in 2019, according to STR, an analytics firm. The latest numbers from Visit Albuquerque are from April, but in that month they show about a 60 percent occupancy rate. Since they tend to track the national scene, that likely means they have improved since, edging toward the nearly normal.
Short-term listings drop, but heightened demand is sustained
Just under 30 short-term rental listings dropped off the likes of Airbnb and VRBO in the last month in 87102 and 87104 in what could be the first signs of the city's new permitting regime taking effect. The city expects the new rules will result in some people removing their listings (DAN, 6/14/21), but one month of data is probably not enough to draw any conclusions. We'll see if the drop continues next month. 

What is more convincing, however, are the short-term rental occupancy numbers:
We've now seen three straight months where our survey of 50 random greater Downtown properties revealed an elevated occupancy rate. Over the next eight weeks, 65 percent of room nights are spoken for, down slightly from the June numbers.

And that's the Hospitality and Entertainment Index for July! Click here for sources and methods.
Downtown Albuquerque News covers greater Downtown, which we generally define as the area created by I-40, the Rio Grande, and the railroad tracks. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
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