Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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Last week local pizza chain Dion’s announced that it would open Tula’s Kitchen, a new sister restaurant that will offer modern dining built for family dinners, business meetings and other get-togethers. The wildly popular New Mexico pizza chain hopes that Tula’s will expand dining opportunities for the Albuquerque community, which it has been a part of for over four decades.

“We feel Albuquerque is ripe for a concept that has a simple, delicious menu that uses high-end fresh ingredients served in a modern atmosphere. Following the restrictions during the pandemic, we knew that people would be anxious to get out of their homes and make connections over good food,” Senior Marketing Manager Audrey Johnson said.

Johnson noted that there had been a positive response from the community as Dion’s expands its dining experiences. “We’ve seen quite a bit of excitement from the community, and anticipation of some of the elements that set Tula’s apart from the Dion’s experience our fans have come to know and love,” Johnson said.

“Providing the opportunity to connect in a relaxed environment with good quality food is at the core of who we are,” co-founder of Dion’s John Patten said in a press release, “Having another restaurant concept allows us to expand this offering to our community,” he added.

The menu will offer similar options as Dion’s, but with greater care into the quality of the food. The company highlighted some notable examples: baked and crispy chicken, grilled sandwiches and fresh salads. The sandwiches are of particular focus for Tula’s. The company emphasized that it will be using artisan cheeses in its sandwiches at Tula’s.

Another item that the company highlighted will be offered at Tula’s Kitchen: a green chile mac ‘n’ cheese. Tula’s will also feature Dion’s signature sauces for other items.

“We’re excited to take what we’ve learned through Dion’s over the last 43 years and use it to add a complementary concept to the family,” Dion’s CEO Mark Herman said in a press release. “Albuquerque is ripe for a restaurant with a simple, delicious menu that uses high-end fresh ingredients served in a modern atmosphere.”

Tula’s Kitchen first location will be at the La Cueva Town Center at Wyoming Blvd. and Paseo del Norte Blvd. NE. The company expects it to be open by summer 2022.