FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2010
Downtown Santa Fe will soon have a new gathering spot for enjoying food, beverages, free wi-fi and a stunning view from an upstairs patio. The Cowden Café, opening May 20 at the New Mexico History Museum, will be operated by the historic Plaza Restaurant. The partnership between the museum and the restaurant fits into a new trend of museums as community gathering spots.
The café will serve daily from 10 am until 4:30 pm, and on Friday from 11 am until 7 pm. Service will be “upscale self-service without the attitude,” said Daniel Razatos, whose family has operated the Plaza Restaurant for more than six decades. All menu items will be made from scratch and designed to be quick, healthy and fresh – perfect for people on a one-hour lunch break. Beverages will include premium coffees, teas, beer and wine, creating an opportunity to enjoy not only the exhibits but sunset hors d’oeuvres and, sometimes, live music on the café’s Phyllis and Eddie Gladden Terrace.
“Museums are changing,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the museum. “It’s not just about visiting the exhibits, it’s about being comfortable in public spaces and providing amenities to help people feel comfortable. We want our museum to be a place for the community.”
Brothers Andy and Daniel Razatos operate the Plaza Restaurant, founded in 1905 and taken over by Dionysi Razatos in 1947. A longtime favorite among locals, tourists and the occasional celebrity, the restaurant whips up a mix of Greek, New Mexican and down-home American cuisines – everything from moussaka to enchiladas to chicken-fried steak.
“The Cowden Café will be like a little café bistro,” said Daniel Razatos. “You come in for a little snack, nothing’s very huge or expensive, and it’s a nice, comfortable atmosphere to hang out and read your newspaper – very European.”
Visitors who only want to go to the café can do so for free; access to the exhibits will remain limited to paid attendees. Up to 20 people can sit inside the café; the outdoor terrace has room for 50 people. The museum is working out the final tweaks to a wi-fi system that will enable members of the public to log on to their computers while visiting the café.
The Cowden Café is named for a historic ranching family, whose holdings at one time straddled the New Mexico-Texas border from Jal to Santa Rosa. Their legacy was detailed in the book Riding for the Brand: 150 Years of Cowden Ranching (University of Oklahoma Press, 2006), by Michael Pettit.
Part of the 1-year-old History Museum’s original design, the café and terrace have been closed to the public while details on the café’s operation were worked out. The state Board of Finance agreed to the contract’s terms on April 20, clearing the way for a final construction push.
Media contact: Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors
(505) 554-5722 (cell)