New Farmington Blake's Lotaburger opens Saturday

Restaurant is first in state to feature chain's new look

Joshua Kellogg
Shawn Kelly, left, takes a bite out of his hamburger as Rosco Hooper enjoys his fries Thursday at the new Blake's Lotaburger location in Farmington.
  • The company was looking to develop a more-modern image with its locations to appeal to the current generation of customers.
  • Blake's Lotaburger also pursued the new design style to accommodate more customers due to increased demand.
  • Developing the new style delayed the construction of the building, which started in September.

FARMINGTON — The newest Blake's Lotaburger location in Farmington opens Saturday as the company shifts to a new design style to incorporate a more modern look while honoring its New Mexico heritage.

The 75th location for the Albuquerque-based company at 5210 E. Main St. will offer free shakes during its grand opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The restaurant, located just east of the Ashley Furniture HomeStore in the same plaza as the Olive Garden restaurant, is the first Blake's Lotaburger in the state to feature the chain's new look. Ron Rule, CEO/owner of Blake's Lotaburger, said the company was looking to develop a more modern image with its locations.

"I think it's a sign that we are investing as much in our interiors as our food," said  Lannie Rule-Ziemann, company director of media relations and Ron's daughter.

Lucy Rosen, director of marketing for Blake’s Lotaburger, described the new location as the company's new flagship restaurant. The increase in demand for Blake's Lotaburger has led the company to pursue the new design style to accommodate more customers, Rosen said.

Developing the new style delayed the construction of the building, which started in September. Rule said the company spent about six to seven months developing and tweaking the kitchen layout, which prompted the delay.

The main contractor on the project, Wilger Enterprises of Albuquerque, told The Daily Times in September the projected completion date was January.

The building differs from most Blake's Lotaburger locations in San Juan County, focusing on a dining room that seats 58 people with booths, and tables and chairs.

It's a dramatic difference from the older locations that feature a small indoor lobby and counter seating. The redesign was developed by Modulus Architects of Albuquerque and uses earth-tone colors, hanging lights and wall art in the interior to create an upscale look.

Elevated seating and tables line the walls of the dining room. Power outlets with USB ports have been installed at those tables to allow customers to charge their laptops or smartphones.

Eric Lien, left, and Kim Lien give their order to Blake's Lotaburger crew member Karen Nelson Thursday at the chain's new Farmington location.

Rule-Ziemann said the company is trying to appeal to the current generation of customers. That lead to the company installing two communal tables that seat 10 customers each and installing a double drive-thru.

"I feel like we're just evolving with the times," Rule-Ziemann said.

The wooden communal tables and lighting fixtures in the dining room are adorned with the New Mexico Zia symbol. Including the Zia symbol in the design was an effort by the company to tie into its 65-year heritage in the state, according to Rule-Ziemann.

More: New Blake's Lotaburger coming to Farmington

Members of the community attending a VIP reception this afternoon got a look at Farmington's fifth Blake's Lotaburger location. There also are Blake's Lotaburger locations in Aztec and Bloomfield.

Rosen said Farmington is one of the company's bigger markets in terms of sales and growth. She said customers here have been loyal, and the company decided to build the new flagship restaurant as a thank you to the community.

"There is always a crowd in all of the Farmington stores," Rosen said.

The new Blake's Lotaburger location at 5210 E. Main St. is the chain's fifth restaurant in Farmington.

Three Lotaburger locations that are under development in Albuquerque will feature the new design style. And a Bernalillo location is being torn down and relocated to a different part of the city, where a new structure will be built, Rosen said.

Rosen also said many of the existing locations company wide could be receiving updates based on the new design style.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.