New restaurant to open in downtown Farmington

Joshua Kellogg
Monica Schultz stands outside the Chile Pod, her new downtown Farmington restaurant, on Thursday.

FARMINGTON — A local chile champion is tackling a new challenge by opening her own Mexican restaurant in downtown Farmington.

Monica Schultz plans to open the Chile Pod at 121 W. Main St. in Farmington. She hopes to open the business on March 1.

The space was formerly occupied by Madison's Sweets, which closed its storefront on Jan. 31, according to owner Patricia Vargas.

Vargas said she closed the bakery, coffee shop and eatery after her husband accepted a job in Miami. She said she and her children will move to Florida after the end of the school year.

Vargas said she will continue to sell cakes from her website.

Schultz learned about the opening at the downtown space after Vargas posted about it on Facebook. Within 24 hours of meeting Vargas, Schultz signed a lease to open her restaurant.

"I messaged her, and she liked me, and we hit it off," Schultz said. "She gave me the owner's contact information, and they both liked the direction I was wanting to go."

Monica Schultz talks on Thursday about a new restaurant she plans to open on March 1 at 121 W. Main St. in Farmington. The Mexican restaurant will be called the Chile Pod.

Schultz has worked for trucking company Kelly Contracting for the last 12 years, managing the business for the last five years.

"I always had it in the back of my mind that I would start something," Schultz said of her interest in opening a restaurant. "I'm always eyeing locations, but nothing ever panned out."

Schultz believes her award-winning red chile will make the Chile Pod stand out from other restaurants in the area. She has won a number of awards — including the People's Choice Award for the last four years — at the Farmington Chamber of Commerce's annual Chile in October contests.

"I think my chile is good and that it's going to be something that people are going to want to come back for," Schultz said.

Schultz also said she has restaurant experience from working in her aunt and uncle's restaurant, Del Prado Cafe in Cuba. Her mother, Diane Molina, once managed the restaurant.

Schultz said the Chile Pod's menu is still a work in progress, but the restaurant will serve casual New Mexican food, such as entrées smothered and covered in red or green chile.

Schultz added that she is also considering serving homemade tamales and a New Mexico burger, which is a hamburger patty in a tortilla smothered with red or green chile and topped with French fries.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

From left, LeAnza Schultz, Justin Schultz, Donna Molina and Shannon Schultz work on Thursday to prepare a new Mexican restaurant called the Chile Pod for its March 1 opening.