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Nov 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Coyote Cafe Changes - Santa Fe

Note that Mark Miller has finally sold his venerable Santa Fe restaurant to a partnership of four people, three of whom have over the years been involved with the restaurant.

Quinn Stephenson who was Beverage Director returns. Others are Sara Chapman, Tori Mendes and - here's the surprise - Eric Di Stefano. Di Stefano has been the Executive Chef at Geronimo for the past 12 years but apparently was not a partner.

Sara Chapman is married to Di Stefano. She and Quinn Stephenson both started their restaurant careers working for Miller as bussers at Coyote. Tori Mendes has been managing Coyote for the last three years. Previously she was at the old Palace Restaurant for 11 years.

All live in Santa Fe and know the Coyote Cafe well and say they'll be on the premises full time. Hopefully this will address some of the negatives that have been posted about.

Di Stefano says he'll have a new menu going within weeks; Southwestern but with more of a "fusion" take which is what he is known for. He also expects to be on the very visible line cooking where guests will be able to observe up close from the seats at the counter.

Mark Miller as part of the sale is to be around monthly to cook, too and counsel (whatever that means).

More to come and I for one hope the early reports are good.

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  1. Thanks for the notes. CC has been a favorite of ours for many years. My hosts, in SF, are not big Mark Miller fans, so we have to "sneak out" to dine there. Still, it's always been worth the effort to make an excuse, go dine - just the two of us, and come back to the house later.

    I, too, hope that the reviews are good.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      What might this change mean for Geronimo?? We're scheduled for Christmas dinner and don't want to take a chance on them not being "on their game".

      1. re: runsfast

        That is a really good question. We've dined there, albeit some years back, and were very impressed. We did Geronimo and Old House back-to-back, and Geronimo was by far the better those nights. This might mean a bit of a shakeup in Santa Fe dining. I hope that one of the locals can give you the scoop, before your trip.


        1. re: runsfast

          Indeed a good question.

          All I can offer is the "Party Line"... Long time sous chef will be assuming the top job, etc.

          Certainly such a transition/succession has occurred seamlessly at many restaurants in many cities before; here in Santa Fe most recently when Martin Rios left the Old House for the Inn of the Anasazi and when David Sellars left SantaCafe to open Amavi. New "Star Chefs" don't just arrive from some Star-Chef-Fairy, I guess.

          All of that said, I would not be surprised to see somebody new join Geronimo.

          1. re: fyfas

            Any update on who the chef is now at Geronimo?

            1. re: bhoward

              Sorry to report that all of the Santa Fe restaurant "Pros" today are a' buzz over problems at Geronimo.

              Seems that Cliff Skoglund, the remaining partner after Eric di Stefano left for Coyote Cafe has been sued big time for unpaid bills etc over the two restaurants opened in Phoenix/Scottsdale.

              Gossip/rumor assumes that the suit will yield a bancruptcy (it is a multi-million $ suit). Assumption too is that a further bancruptcy is down the line for trhe Santa Fe property, Geronimo.

              All of this, of course, remains to be seen but the competing chefs around Santa Fe are delighted to see the competition finally having to pay-the-piper for their past indiscretions; not the least of which was how they shut down the Senor Lucky location in Santa Fe and left the staff/help wondering and hanging.

              More, here, as it becomes known. I would, personally, be cautious now with respect to Geronimo as vendors and suppliers of all that it takes "to-be-great" will be not so eager to supply unless they know they will be paid...

              1. re: fyfas

                I just returned from Santa Fe and would tell everyone to STAY AWAY from The Coyote Cafe. My meal was terrible. The baby back ribs were flavorless as was the mac & cheese. The server was nice, but could have cared less if we enjoyed our meal or not.
                However, my meal at Geronimo was outstanding. The tuna was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. The service was knowledgeable and gracious without being overly casual.
                My husband and I also ate at SantaCafe for New Year's Eve and although the evening was fun I found my cornish game hen to be dry and not appetizing in the least, while my husband enjoyed his ravioli.

      2. Best of luck to Coyote! I am eager to read the new menu. Eric's food is always on point. From fine dining to casual to everything in between, if it is wrought from the hands of DiStefano, it will be memorable.
        And with some of prof. Quinn's libations to wash it all down, it should be a dramatic rebirth of the Coyote.
        For years people have been bad mouthing Coyote, yet when I ate there everything was fine, but not stellar. Maybe the new ownership will be the breath of fresh air that we were all looking for.

        As for Geronimo, please go and support them. The staff there are really great people, who strive to provide the best food and service imaginable. If you have been there before, go back and try them again. If you can't make it back tell your friends or drop an email. Geronimo is a great place that doesn't deserve to be dragged through the mud.

        Happy eating and have fun. NaCl

        1 Reply
        1. re: Salt_ofthe_Earth

          There is a difference between 'dragging through the mud' and reporting factual items about the management/ownership (which in this case involves its very talented chef).

          Chowhounders know this.

        2. The Spotted Donkey Cantina and Luc's are disapointments in Phoenix as far as I am concerned. I ate a Geronimos a few years back and was very impressed but neither AZ location quite lives up to the billing.

            1. I heard (online) that Martin Rios is moving over to Geronimo? Does anyone know if that is indeed true?

              1 Reply
              1. re: ma_bell_deve

                True. Will be an owner hence the motivation to move.