• Amid the toughest of circumstances, a new restaurant opens Downtown
  • New mural on 12th is a visual representation of an Al Hurricane song.
  • High Noon's wooden phone booth was the first of its kind in Santa Monica
Amid the toughest of circumstances, a new restaurant opens Downtown
Oni Abq, a restaurant specializing in ramen dishes, will open for business as soon as tomorrow at the former Boiler Monkey location at 6th and Central, co-owner David Gaspar de Alba told DAN. Last-minute logistical issues with their ordering system could delay opening by a few days, he said, referring anyone looking for up-to-the-minute information to the restaurant's Facebook feed.

Customers looking to place an order can do so only online, retrieving the food at a pickup window on 6th. Only employees (in masks) will be allowed inside the building, after a temperature check.

The restaurant, which started out as the Oni Noodles food truck, will at first be open Thursday through Saturday from 4-8 p.m., then consider expanding, Gaspar de Alba said.

Opening a restaurant is a harrowing experience in the best of circumstances, and all the more so when takeout is the only option and some analysts around the country are predicting that 30 percent will not survive the pandemic. But for Gaspar de Alba, it came down to the hard facts of a lease. 

"It's tough but we have to pay rent," he said.
A new mural on 12th is a visual representation of an Al Hurricane song
The mural, at 12th and Bellamah, is on the Gorman Industries building.
If you were to put on the Al Hurricane song "Sentimiento" for a few minutes, you would most likely find it to be an enjoyable audio experience, but the story would pretty much end there. Downtown Neighborhoods artist Reyes Padilla also enjoys the sound, but his mind would add a little something extra: Thanks to a condition called synesthesia, he also literally sees the song as a collection of shapes and colors.

Small wonder, then, that his art is generally inspired by music. His latest mural, a parade of cascading blue, black, and white shapes on the side of the Gorman Industries building at 12th and Bellamah, follows the pattern. It is what Padilla sees when he listens to/sees "Sentimiento," edited a bit for clarity and color.

"I see crazy stuff when I see sound," he told DAN. "My painting ends up being a very simplistic - almost cave painting-like - representation of what I'm seeing."

Padilla's other Downtown area works include an installation at Explora and the banners on the Harwood Art Center, which he produced along with artist Natalie Voelker. The musical influences of that work are numerous, he said - practically a mixtape.
High Noon's wooden phone booth was the first of its kind in Santa Monica
Hiding in plain sight: An antique phone booth, these days sans phone, outside of Old Town's High Noon Restaurant and Saloon.
The big wooden box just off the Charlevoix Street entrance to Old Town's High Noon Restaurant and Saloon does a good job of blending into its surroundings. If you're not paying attention, you might dismiss it as some sort of cupboard or quaint outdoor storage unit. 

But no. It's actually a very small phone booth, and according to High Noon managing partner Carla Villa, it comes with an interesting pedigree. The origin story goes back to 1974, she said, when her parents, founders Charley and Shirley Villa, engaged the services of a gentleman whose business card, like something out of an "Indiana Jones" movie, labeled him as a "procurer of antiquities." 

"He worked with mom and dad for quite some time and helped gather a lot of the things that are in the restaurant," Carla Villa said. "The phone booth also came through him. It was the very first outdoor phone booth in Santa Monica, California."

Exactly how old that makes the phone booth isn't clear, but based on the rapid deployment of phone booths across the country at the dawn of the last century, it seems likely that the booth is at least 100 years old. 

"For years we actually kept a payphone in there," Villa said. That lasted until about 2005, when phone booth usage plummeted as cell phones took hold, and word came down from the phone company that "if I wanted to keep it I was going to have to pay."

Villa tried stashing a garden hose in there instead, but thieves made off with it, so now it sits empty and padlocked. Villa doesn't have any near-term plans to fix it up, but said it might eventually be the target of some kind of refinishing. For now, she's focused on leveling out the brick walkways, prepping to re-stucco the exterior, and figuring out how to re-open when the time comes.
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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