Mayhap as you’ve sojourned down Cerrillos Road in recent times you’ve noticed how the former Sweet Motor Cars car lot on Cerrillos Road (right where Baca Street transforms into Monterey Drive) has seen some significant updates. The exterior of the building that once housed admin offices and a garage is now a lovely shade of deep blue with white trim; if the garage door is down, you’ve likely seen the new logo, too—a combination of coffee beans and whisks forming what looks almost like a sun encircled with bold letters. They spell it out plainly: Baked & Brew (1310 Cerrillos Road, (505) 954-1346) will soon be here, and for folks in search of sweet and savory baked goods, coffee you won’t find anyplace else and a grab ‘n’ go aesthetic that encompasses a drive-thru, your day has come.
Baked & Brew is a dream come true for owners/pastry chefs/bakers/best buds Nicole Appels and Kate Holland. If you’d walked into the space last week, chances are you’d have seen Holland’s mother Margie working with power tools and helping to build furniture. As Appels and Holland lead me around the soon-to-open bakery, they proudly point out a table that will soon house Baked & Brew’s point-of-sale system; the spot where ovens and such will go into a room on one side; a small smattering of tables that will occupy the former garage; a lovely, tiny park outside where folks can enjoy their treats. As we sit in the area that will soon be the main kitchen, Margie practices cutting concentric circles in wood with power tools in the next room while Holland and Appels explain their vision. The vibe is almost electric.
By the time this issue of SFR reaches your hands, however, things will have likely phased from in-flux to almost complete. Appels and Holland say they’re aiming for a June 15 opening date, and I hope they can make it work as I straight up want a breakfast sandwich and/or some kind of tart. Let’s get this show on the road, Baked & Brew—this is serious business.
Appels and Holland met in Napa, California, some years ago while working for Solage, a hotel from the Auberge Resorts Collection (that’s the same folks who run Bishop’s Lodge, btw). They hit it off almost immediately and today describe the friendship as something more than your average two-buddies outfit. Holland was there when Appels had her son; they’re roommates; they finish each other’s sentences. Back in their Napa days, however, all that was a far-off dream, but once each found out the other longed to open a bakery someday—once they survived the Napa fires of 2020 and relocated to Santa Fe—the plan started to click. At first, Holland worked at Bishop’s Lodge and Appels worked at The Compound. And though each can make just about any baked good you can imagine (and plenty you might not), the idea formed around Appels focusing on sweet pastries and treats and Holland leaning toward savory breads, croissants and such. Cut to today in Santa Fe, and they’re poised to offer a Midtown quick stop solution to where the heck someone gets a non-sit-down bite in the area.
“We just got our air horn today,” Holland explains of the drive-thru equipment that will notify workers. “People will drive over it outside, then someone will come out and grab their order.”
The drive-thru creates reason enough alone to celebrate, but Appels’ and Holland’s bonafides are no joke, either. Appels trained at Capetown, South Africa’s Granger Hotel School, Holland with the Art Institute of Atlanta’s culinary program. Each focused on pastry, but still has their specialties. Appels, for example, notes there’s no one item she considers her single best offering, but she might still make a South African malva pudding at some point. Holland, meanwhile, is all about bread—she might even make English muffins for breakfast sandwiches when the time comes. Both have plans to circumvent the legendarily tricky altitude when it comes to Santa Fe baking, as well, and coffee from Arizona’s Passport Coffee & Tea will add another high-quality caffeine option to the local landscape.
“And I just love being in the kitchen,” Appels explains. “I like experimenting with new ingredients and flavors and so forth.”
That’s good news, because most of us here want to try those things.
Jambo, Jambo Bobcat Bite
Years ago, when I was but a lad growing up at the ass-end of Nine Mile Road outside Santa Fe, special nights meant picking up burgers for the family from Bobcat Bite. If you’re from around here, you surely know the story of Bonnie and John Eckre—how they served up the best burgers in all the land but were forced out of their original location on Old Las Vegas Highway after years of being the kindest people ever. The Eckres would re-open as Santa Fe Bite, first downtown and then in Midtown Santa Fe, but something about losing that tiny little lunch counter and handful of tables out there really stung for locals.
In February, the Eckres sold the business to new owners Armando Rivas and Angela Mason and are still, last I heard, on the staff. Santa Fe Bite continues to be a solid establishment with a fantastic menu and plenty of charm to boot, but for the diehards among us, there’s actually a place you can go to get nearly the exact same taste of the old days Bobcat Bite burger, and it might be the last place you’d think to look—the original location.
See, around the first of the year, chef Ahmed Obo of celebrated Midtown Afro-Caribbean joint Jambo took over the original Bobcat Bite location way out on Old Las Vegas Highway for his new-ish eatery, Jambo Bobcat Bite (418 Old Las Vegas Hwy., (505) 467-8654). Roughly a year earlier, previous owners and restauranteurs Jimmy and Jennifer Day had closed down their own take on the restaurant after fewer than six months in business. Obo, however—who reportedly approached the Eckres for their blessing in taking over the space—knew he could nail it. And so he has.
A recent visit came with new discoveries for this longtime fan. Not only has the space tripled in size following renovations from the Days, but Obo has crafted a sort of food paradise for all palates. And though myself and a dining companion tragically missed the brunch we so desperately sought (service for that stuff stops at 11 am), I finally had the chance to sample Obo’s take on the classic Bobcat green chile cheeseburger. And you know what? No notes. It tastes precisely how I remembered it in every way, from the bun to the chile/cheese ratio to the thick, grilled patty. My companion chose the falafel burger and described it as “amazingly delicious.” The one downside? Real ones will miss those Eckre homefries. Of course, it’s easy to get over to Santa Fe Bite, where the homefries live on. In fact, having two places continuing the legacy of John Eckres’ undefeated burger? A huge win for all.