A Santa Fe icon is biting the dust or is it? Bobcat Bite, making what has been called by Bon Appétit and other foodie reads, one of the best burgers in the USA, is closing as we know it. Current proprietors, Bonnie and John Eckre, who’ve run the restaurant since 2001, are out and the Panzer family, who opened the original eatery over 60 years ago, claims that they own the business.
The restaurant has earned a lot of accolades over the last 10 years or so. Bobcat’s gotten national and worldwide attention, appearing on the pages of Travel + Leisure, Gourmet, Bon Appétit, GG and more. It’s even been on the Food Network. Being New Mexico, the item most touted in the green chile cheeseburger, but they’re all worth biting into. Were Bobcat’s burgers incredible before 2001? We don’t know. It’s before our time.
Local food experts and James Beard Award-winning cookbook authors, Bill and Cheryl Alters Jamison have it on their Top 5: Bill and Cheryl Jamison’s Favorite Burgers in Santa Fe. Road food mavens Jane and Michael Stern are fans and so are the Santa Fe Travelers. Can all these foodies be wrong? But, the burgers they’re extolling are special. Made from a hand ground mixture of chuck sirloin from New Mexico-raised beef, these 10-ounce giants are special. Grill master John Eckres has the touch.
Both sides now- sort of:
According to a statement the Eckres released this week, they thought they owned the business. They discovered during recent lease negotiations, that the Panzer’s claim they own the business as well as the real estate. The Eckres have had business licenses, bank accounts and paid taxes under the Bobcat name for years. Interestingly, the Panzers filed a trademark application in 2012 which went up for “Opposition” on April 30, 2013. This could be interesting. The question that comes to mind is, why did they wait so long? You’d have to ask family spokesman, Mark Panzer and according to local media he’s keeping a low profile. According to posts and articles on Bobcat, he’s not returning calls. Researching Bobcat’s awards and accolades, they all seem to have come since the Eckres’ took over.
The Eckres close up shop on June 9th. They are looking for a downtown location and reportedly have found one at Garrett’s Desert Inn and will reopen under a new name. That site has been a bit of a revolving door for eateries. Can the Eckres with their famous burgers make it work?
Who will run Bobcat in the future? According to local media sources, the Panzers are looking for someone to take over. Will their burgers keep up the gold standard established by the Eckres. John Eckres told The Santa Fe Reporter, “’It’s possible the landlord will bring someone else in (to takeover Bobcat Bite). We’re not sure who that might be or when that might be. We’re really disappointed it has to be that way.”’ The Eckres are concerned that people will come based on their reputation and not get the burger they expected. Their names are what’s associated with all the national and worldwide coverage of the eatery. Will the next owners hit the mark? Only time will tell.
We’ll miss Bobcat, but are excited that we’ll be able to get a great burger in town when a craving hits. The trip out to the Las Vegas Highway location when we needed a burger fix was often a bit daunting. So, we’ll look on the sunny side. We hope John and Bonnie Eckres can, too.
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