Sandia Peak restaurant opens

The Sandia Peak Tramway has been a popular New Mexico attraction since it opened in 1966. One of the highlights of riding the Tram, in addition to the views and the hiking, was a restaurant at the top of the peak. 

That restaurant was a fine dining hangout known as High Finance and had been in business for 50 years, closing its doors in 2016, and subsequently torn down to make way for the new restaurant.

In 2018, new owner Benny Abruzzo broke ground for an entirely new building. After about a year under construction, the new restaurant, called Ten 3, will be opening for business Aug. 17.

Ten 3 will be serving only dinner at its grand opening Saturday, when will open at 5 p.m.

All of the available fine dining reservations have already been booked, but people can still come in for casual dinner without reservation.

The restaurant will feature both casual and fine dining. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

The new space has a bar and lounge, as well as fine dining by reservation only. The fine dining hours are from 5 to 10:30 p.m. daily; the last seating is 9 p.m., which is also the time the last tram flight goes up the mountain.

To get to Ten 3 requires either a ride up the Sandia Peak Tramway or a 2-mile hike from the east side of the Sandias.

The tram is available for everyone to return and runs until the last employee is ready to go home.

The most notable thing about the new space is its views, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Fox.

At over 10,000 feet, and rising a mile over the city of Albuquerque and Rio Grande Valley to the west, 11,000 square miles of New Mexico are visible from the crest, according to the Tram’s website. The new space offers both the view over Albuquerque and the view to the east, Fox said, and that view has been incorporated into more of the restaurant and bar.

Another new development of the new space is the placement of the building. This time “the building [was built] four feet from the cliff edge, which really gives customers a sense of being on a mountain,” Fox said.

Another project in the works is a mountain coaster, which would criss-cross through the ski area.

Sandia Peak Ski Area Co. has a special use permit to operate in the Cibola National Forest.

According to the Master Development Plan filed with the Forest Service, summer activities at the ski area, chair lift rides and mountain biking, attracted an average of 5,800 visitors over the past five years, with numbers as high as 45,911 visitors in winter in 2011-12.

The Tram attracts 250,000 visits a year, operating almost year-round, according to the Plan.

The Forest Service is conducting an environmental impact study; planning documents included a timeline with summer 2019 for construction to begin.