ABQ Food Fridays is a social gathering held from 4 to 8 p.m. at Civic Plaza where people can eat, drink and experience the week’s music and events for Friday night fun.

Damian Lopez-Gaston, director of event services at the Albuquerque Convention Center, said Food Fridays is a pop-up happy hour food-and-beer event designed to get people to start thinking about Civic Plaza in a slightly different way.

Last fall, Civic Plaza was awarded one of four place-making grants by Southwest Airlines, Lopez-Gaston said. The purpose of the grant is to make an underused area more important to the city it’s in, he said.

“We started talking a lot about what we can do to make things more interesting here. (Food Fridays) is one of the ideas that we came up with,” he said. “We feel very serious about doing something with this space. We’re doing various things to get people to come out to Civic Plaza and have a good time here.”

Each week, a different local restaurant will provide the main entrée at a fixed price of $10, with separate options including Marble Brewery’s craft beer also available.

This past Friday, Chef Ernesto Duran of Café Bien provided the food for the event. He said he thinks Food Fridays is a great opportunity for downtown Albuquerque to get some exposure as a family-friendly area filled with a variety of local businesses.

“It’s important that people understand that you can bring your family down here and enjoy your evening,” Duran said.

It’s also good for local restaurants that want to attract the attention of their community and draw the family-friendly demographic they’re looking for into their restaurants, he said.

The first few Food Fridays will also have movies played for free on the plaza after sundown. Last week’s movie was the Disney classic, “The Little Mermaid.” Then the movie will be temporarily replaced with Shakespeare on the Plaza, with local productions held on the stage at Civic Plaza.

There has been one ABQ Food Friday so far, and up to this point the responses have been positive.

Shirley Hosler is the mother of James Haynes, the front man of Jimmy’s Famjamily, the local band that played last week’s Food Friday.

Hosler said she came to Food Friday not only to watch the band play, but to see what kind of events were held downtown. She said it’s a great community event that brings people together, and she will definitely be attending future Food Fridays.

“Even if you live in the Northeast Heights and you’re not sure what the downtown area is all about, come out and enjoy downtown Albuquerque,” Hosler said. “You just can’t go wrong.”

Skylar Griego is the assistant culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at cultureassistant
@dailylobo.com or on Twitter