Shade Tree Café from Restaurant Impossible shuts down

Shade Tree Customs & Café
Shade Tree Customs & Café (Google Street View)

After just two years in business and a makeover by Restaurant Impossible host Robert Irvine, the Shade Tree Customs & Café located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has closed its doors for business. Viewers of the episode will recall the establishment was a dual motorcycle-repair shop and restaurant.

The restaurant’s co-owner, Richard Rael, told the Albuquerque Journal that the closure was disappointing, but was ultimately doomed by a lack of customer traffic. He said they’d understand it the food was bad, but that wasn’t the case – because people “loved to come here.”

The Shade Tree Café was featured in a season 10 episode of Restaurant: Impossible entitled “Revved Up.”

Even after Robert Irvine’s intervention, the restaurant continued to struggle in its second year of business, including an unsuccessful bid to get a patio approved. After the prolonged process became somewhat political, the Shade Tree later withdrew its application for a patio. Something they say would have upped the restaurant’s capacity.

Robert Irvine at the Shade Tree Customs & Cafe
Robert Irvine at the Shade Tree Customs & Cafe (Food Network)

Below is a copy of the synopsis for the episode that appears on the Restaurant: Impossible webpage.

Restaurant: Impossible goes hog wild in Albuquerque, N.M., at the Shade Tree Customs and Cafe where Chef Robert Irvine meets a handful of characters who opened a full service restaurant above their motorcycle repair shop. Robert must unravel the mystery of why this restaurant is failing and tackle the blah menu, while the design team is challenged with elevating the Shade Tree’s decor without losing its motorcycle soul.

Here’s what a Yelp reviewer had to say about the restaurant in the latest review on the website from Oct. 22.

This place rules. Great little gastro-pub. But I don’t think they consider themselves that. They’re too diesel to consider themselves anything.

Great beer selection. Cool atmosphere. And the food is on-point. Forget the name of it, but there’s a spicy chicken sandwich that rules the nation.

Excellent spot.


The Shade Tree was also recently featured in this local news segment:

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Just another food journalist chewing his way through the fat in the endless search for the tender meat close to the bone.