Our guest blogger, the City of Rio Rancho, had a great Q & A with NMRA member John Haas, Brand Executive Chef/Founding Partner of M’Tucci’s Moderno.  Here’s what they had to share:

Considering a move or expansion? The City of Rio Rancho, adjacent to Albuquerque and home to nearly 100,000 residents, should definitely be your next location. Here’s why:

Tell us briefly, what is M’Tucci’s Moderno?

“M’tucci’s Moderno is a neighborhood restaurant that is built around offering warm friendly service, exceptional value and quality, and excellent live entertainment.  We don’t exist to just serve food or drink, but also to create an experience that makes our guests feel a part of our M’tucci’s family.  Our restaurant is as much the guests as it is M’tucci’s.”

M’Tucci’s Moderno, opened in January 2017, is the third restaurant by the M’Tucci’s restaurant group. The Rio Rancho location expanded into more space in their existing location in Fall 2017.

What is your favorite dish currently on the menu at Moderno?

“That’s always a tough question; it changes with each semi-annual seasonal menu.  I think my current favorite is our Cold Smoked Duroc Pork Chop with a House Cured Bacon-Apple-Bourbon Chutney.  The Cream of Wild Mushroom is tough to beat though. “

Other popular lunch favorites at the restaurant include: Crispy Green Chile Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, Eggplant Sandwich, Chipotle Chicken Pasta, and the Mista Salad.

What is the competitive landscape like for restaurants in Rio Rancho?

“[Rio Rancho] has tremendous potential for nearly any concept. It’s really about execution and value…As it is with any other market, you must take care of the guests and make a connection.  You’ve got to produce a fresh quality product.  On top of all that, you must provide an inviting atmosphere and great value. Success in this industry requires us to be obsessed with the details and not ever moving past that.”

What are the strengths and unique features of Rio Rancho as a market for restaurants?

“I would say one of the most appealing things would be the difference in the number of restaurants.  It’s far less saturated and much less overrun with corporate restaurants.  It’s also a very loyal crowd…We heard every reason for why it would be difficult to operate a restaurant in Rio Rancho and have overcome every one. People like to compare Rio Rancho vs. Albuquerque.  We’re all the same people, we’ve just ended up on one side or the other of an invisible line.  ”

Rio Rancho is home to 1/3 the number of restaurants per capita as Albuquerque, and median incomes in the City are more than 25% higher- resulting in more disposable income. Rio Rancho’s

population is projected to grow by more than 15% through 2020, making it the second largest City in NM.

How would you describe the level of success M’Tucci’s Moderno has experienced in Rio Rancho? Does this location’s results exceed expectations?

“It has certainly exceeded other people’s expectations.  We felt very confident in the location and the Rio Rancho market.  Being a resident [of Rio Rancho], it was clear that there was opportunity in the market.  That also made this much more personal for me, which added a nice extra bit of motivation.”

Have you noticed, or do you anticipate, any differences in cost of operations in Rio Rancho versus your other locations?

“The most noticeable one I think other operators would see is the difference for tipped wage employees.  The minimum tipped wage is $2.13/hr vs Albuquerque’s $5.25/hr.  However, we have nearly doubled Sandoval County’s tipped wage to be sure we take care of our employees.  We’re proud to have never paid a non-tipped employee minimum wage at any of our restaurants.”

What’s your favorite thing about Rio Rancho?

“Honestly, I know this sounds funny, but it’s how easy it is to get around and how much less congested it is.  With it being a lot newer, there are little things like right hand turn lanes that make traffic flow so much smoother.  It seems like it’s been built with growth in mind and has the space to do it.  Additionally, I grew up in a pretty small town in rural Iowa.  Rio Rancho has some of those small town characteristics that I enjoy.  You get to see the people that make Rio Rancho what it is; whether it’s a Police Officer, Member of a City Committee, or Mayor Gregg Hull.  They’re accessible and approachable and I very much appreciate that.”

We find the folks at M’tucci’s to be accessible and approachable, too. Thank you to John Haas for his time and thoughtfulness in these responses. As much as he likes Rio Rancho, it’s safe to say that the feeling is mutual!

If you would like to learn more about opening a location in Rio Rancho, watch your email inbox for a video called “Restaurant Startup 101: Rio Rancho” coming later this month. Can’t wait that long? Contact: Savannah Jermance, Economic Development & Business Relations Manager, City of Rio Rancho at (505) 274-5062 or at sjermance@rrnm.gov.