Jan. 21—Bobcat Bite restaurant on Old Las Vegas Highway permanently closed Sunday, less than six months after Texans Jimmy and Jennifer Day reopened the fabled eatery.
The Days had intended to restore Bobcat Bite — which closed in 2013 and was dormant until the Days revived it — as a Santa Fe landmark and potentially even expand the brand to other states.
But a December 2020 brain injury suffered by their son, plus the coronavirus pandemic, upended the family's Santa Fe ambitions. The Days never reopened their downtown restaurants Bouche Bistro, Trattoria a Mano and Lucky Goat after the initial March 2020 lockdown.
"We are permanently closed," Jennifer Day said in a phone interview. "We didn't tell the employees until [Wednesday]."
Bobcat Bite was normally closed Monday and Tuesday.
The Days pushed ahead as absentee owners to finish and open Bobcat Bite on Aug. 4, leaving day-to-day operations and the overall vision of the brand to Greg Carey, who served as vice president of restaurant operations at NM Fine Dining, the company the Days established to own all their Santa Fe restaurants.
"The major theme I would like to say is: Jimmy and Jennifer Day are out of the restaurant business," Jennifer Day said. "They are helping their son with rehabilitation and recovery. It's hard to run a restaurant when you aren't hands-on. We are working with our son. He takes precedence over everything. Our main goal is to help him walk."
The Days' primary home is in San Antonio, Texas, and their son was a high school senior when the injury occurred.
They acquired the Bobcat Bite property and surrounding 98 acres in 2017, days after it was listed by the Panzer family, which opened Bobcat Bite in 1953. That same year, the Days launched their movable feast of eateries, with six restaurants opening and closing depending on local and global circumstances.
"We're out of everything," Jennifer Day said. "It was fun. We had some great restaurants. It's more important to take care of family than take care of other stuff."
The Days kept Bobcat Bite's original dining room with a low viga ceiling but added another dining room, an outdoor patio and a takeout window.
The Days lived in Santa Fe for 20 years, assembling a three-home property on Camino de Cruz Blanca, near St. John's College. They put two houses on the market in June. A 3,959-square-foot, three-bedroom house has sold and the 6,743-square-foot, six-bedroom house they lived in for 14 years remains on the market for $3.995 million.
They owned the Bouche Bistro and Lucky Goat properties, which they sold to the owners of Mille and La Tour Experience, respectively, both French restaurants opening in the past month. They still hold the lease for Trattoria a Mano, which is for sale, along with all the restaurant equipment, for $95,000, said Michael Greene, president of Santa Fe business brokerage Sam Goldenberg & Associates.
Greene on Wednesday also took on the 3.5-acre Bobcat Bite property and business, which will be for sale for $95,000 or lease, he said.
"It's an opportunity to get into a restaurant," Greene said. "What I think will happen with Bobcat is, somebody will lease it. I think I can lease it with the equipment and the name."
Jennifer Day said she wants to sell another roughly 12 acres at Bobcat Bite with a house and hacienda. The Days plan to hold on to 80 undeveloped acres.