Cement dust flurries at 217 Johnson St. as Lloyd Abrams, owner of upscale Geronimo, oversees the construction of the latest addition to Santa Fe’s culinary scene, Georgia.
Plywood ramps cover stairs, subway tile is being affixed to what will be the kitchen walls and the constant rumble of drills fills the air.
"There are beds that come out like this and like this," Abrams enthuses, standing where the al fresco dining room will be, trying his best to speak with his hands. "This is where our patio seating is, and we've got these huge rectangular umbrellas that basically come down both sides and a corridor down the middle."
Even with the vivid description, it's hard to envision the space. Still, Abrams says they're shooting for a May 23 opening.
No expense has been spared in revamping the historic 2,900-square-foot-space, down to the insulation of the double-brick building, which was then re-bricked "in order to bring it back to its old glory."
Abrams, who'd been eyeing the locale since it shut down operations in October 2011, continues the tour across the future main entrance and leads the way to a 39-seater craft cocktail bar, where executive chef Brett Sparman is standing.
"This is my office," Sparman says, walking toward the kitchen in progress. The Luminaria alum promises "contemporary American cuisine" featuring "very clean, simple plates."
Leave your Abiquiú blue plate special or Stieglitz stew dreams at the door. "Obviously the name of the restaurant is 'Georgia,' so we gained inspiration from our neighbor," Sparman says, clarifying that they're not in any way partnered with the legendary modernist's museum.
He adds Georgia will strive to include as much locally raised produce and meat as possible and that prices are going to be kept in check.
"Nothing on the printed menu is going to be over $35. It's going to be really accessible, nothing too fussy or out there," he says. "This is going to be a place where, when you come in, you feel like a regular."
Sparman also promises specials and a unique dry-aging meat program that'll offer diners 28 to 40-day aged beef.
For a town its size, Santa Fe has long been considered at the foodie forefront. Sparman expects the new venture to add to the current.
"We're lucky," he muses. "We live in town where there are a lot of talented guys here, a lot of talented chefs. Sometimes you can get washed away in the big city, whereas here, we can provide a more personal experience and provide a personal touch to the people dining in your restaurant."
As far as the pressing deadline, Sparman describes the feeling as "restaurant life—it's fast, it's quick and it's always to the bitter end."
Abrams pops in and shares his particular vision for the revamped space.
"We hope it to be an in-town country club," he says. "It's not your typical Santa Fe environment," he continues before disappearing into a cloud of construction grit.