It’s 9 a.m. at the newly opened Lily and Liam Bistro at 1751 NM 528 across the street from Intel, as a steady stream of customers wait to be seated.
A fine mist of aroma from the kitchen fills the dining area just before co-owners and married couple James and Megan Garrigan prepare to sit down and discuss their inspiration for opening one of Rio Rancho’s newest businesses.
“This is our first venture into opening our own restaurant, and we are excited with the results,” Megan said.
Open for two weeks, Megan and James verified that they have already established a good customer base, including a few repeat diners impressed with the cuisine.
James said he has worked as a cook for 20 years in various culinary establishments, including Rio Rancho’s own Joe’s Pasta House.
“A lot of planning went into this venture,” James said. “But we saw the need for a good breakfast and lunch place, and I think we really found a good location for one.”
The couple took a former Subway sandwich shop and retrofit the 1,210-square-foot space to accommodate nearly a dozen tables.
“We really just kept everything the same as it was when it was Subway, only we re-did the floors and the walls and put our own little touches on it with new furniture,” Megan said.
In fact, the entire south wall of the bistro is still set up with the original Subway service line and refrigerator.
According to James, the biggest investment he and his wife made was purchasing a new ventilation hood for $20,000.
“Outside of that, the rest of the remodel was basically $10,000 to $15,000 out of pocket,” he said.
The duties at this locally owned bistro have James running the kitchen side of the business, with Megan helping out in all other aspects, from taking orders to doing dishes.
You may also wonder where the inspiration for the name of their business came from, given that neither James’s nor Megan’s name appears on the company’s moniker.
“We wanted to go with our kids’ names from the get-go,” Megan said. “Really, it’s their middle names, but it had a good ring to it, and after trying other names out before opening, we just came back to Lily and Liam.”
As for the cuisine, James said he makes a small fresh batch of each item offered on the menu.
“I wanted to do a farm-to-table-type cuisine but not offer the quantity of food that other restaurants were offering,” he said. “I wanted to offer a richer quality of food at a reasonable portion.”
James said he likes to incorporate classic French-style cooking techniques like braising, brioche breads, mousses, etc.
“We offer this style of cooking but put a modern spin on it so our customers can enjoy what we think of as a regular breakfast spot in New Mexico,” he said.
An example of this cuisine can be spotlighted by the bistro’s take on Dutch eggs.
“It’s a Yorkshire pudding with an egg yolk in it, wrapped in bacon, served on a nest of potatoes and onions,” James said.
Another unique creation served at the bistro is an almond cream quinoa, which consists of acai, fruit, almond cream and almonds.
“It’s one of those cooling, soothing dishes that I really enjoy,” he said.
Lily and Liam Bistro will celebrate its grand opening along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.
For more information, go to facebook.com/lilyandliambistro or call the bistro at 340-3309.