Danielle Lamphier says that nobody makes meatballs and marinara like her grandma.
“You will not have had a meatball like my grandma’s,” she said.
That’s why her grandma’s meatball recipe will appear on the menu of Butter, a new restaurant on 3619 Copper NE. Although Danielle’s late grandmother can’t see the opening, her recipe will live on – repurposed as a meatball sub.
“I wish she was here,” Danielle said. “She would be an amazing little spitfire in the kitchen.”
The restaurant, which has its soft opening on Friday, is a family affair. Butter is owned and operated by Danielle and her daughter, Alex Lamphier, co-owner of Meateor Burgers in the 505 Central Food Hall. And, Danielle’s mom will help in the kitchen on occasion.
“No one makes it like nonna makes it,” Danielle said.
The initial menu concept looked very different. Culinary school graduate Alex was imagining something “fancy, shareable and … elevated.”
But the original menu didn’t seem right. The mother-daughter duo decided to change course and focus on comfort foods instead.
“When we were first thinking about this place, the menu was not that – and it was very difficult and stressful … ,” Alex said. “And what we were going to do is completely different than what we’re doing now. So it feels good. It’s not so scary.”
The soft opening menu will include fresh bread with compound butter, broccoli cheese soup and a variety of sandwiches. When the restaurant has its grand opening in October, the pair will debut an expanded menu.
“We want to bring in all these comfort foods that we love and share them,” Danielle added. “So it isn’t fast food. This is … slow food, relaxed food.”
Butter shares a space with the Public House Wine Room, owned by High & Dry Brewing. The liquor license covers the whole property, so diners can enjoy drinks from the Public House and food from Butter at the same time.
505 Central Food Hall is owned by developer Mark Baker. Baker is also a partner in High & Dry Brewing. Besides her work for Butter and Meateor, Danielle works for Baker as a property manager. When High & Dry started developing the Public House Wine Room, Baker reached out to her to see if she and her daughter were interested in opening a restaurant.
“We drove by it, and I was like, well, this is way cool,” Alex said. “Nob Hill is like just now beginning to open back up and become more of a spot than it has been for the past few years. … It’s a new fresh start down here. And we’re going to be part of that.”
The timing was difficult; Alex had recently opened Meateor in 2020, and the pair had opened a bakery that floundered. But, the mother and daughter couldn’t pass up on the chance to open Butter.
“I’ve been a single mom most of my life. And I’ve always had really big dreams, but I haven’t had the money to make those dreams happen,” Danielle said. “And I feel like Alex and I both were in a position in our lives where we had savings accounts … This opportunity presented itself. And we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it.’”
Danielle moved to Albuquerque from Florida when she was 10. Her father, Bob Lamphier, was an assistant men’s basketball coach for the Lobos at the time, and the family “put down roots” in the city.
She said she remembers going to Flying Star when it was still called Double Rainbow. The coffee shop was an inspiration for the decor of Butter.
“That was a space I think about often because they had these huge wooden shelves full of beautiful magazines and things to read – and you were allowed to touch them,” Danielle said. “… And so when we got the space, I went back there thinking about how many hours I sat in that place just relaxing and reading and enjoying. And so that’s what I think about the space, you know, that people don’t just want to eat and leave, they want to hang out.”
Danielle plans to bring in her collection of books to the restaurant so patrons can eat and read.
Currently, the work of local artists Nick Woodall, Grace Nieman and Jake Salas hangs on the walls. Woodall also designed the distinctive metal stick-of-butter sign on the restaurant. The Lamphiers said the plan is to rotate featured artists every few months.
The duo want Butter to become a community space.
“So food brings us together; food is celebration,” Danielle said. “… This is much more family. This is history for us. And this is creating a place for my kids and grandchild.”
Butter is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.