John and Bonnie Eckre, who until early June operated the legendary burger joint Bobcat Bite southeast of Santa Fe, are ready to rejoin the local restaurant scene with their new, larger eatery at Garrett’s Desert Inn, 311 Old Santa Fe Trail.

Santa Fe Bite, tentatively set to open Aug. 15th, will have longer hours and a bigger menu, in addition to the Eckres’ famous green chile cheeseburgers, general manager Walter Espinosa said Monday.

The Eckres left Bobcat Bite after a dispute with the property owner, the late Mitzi Panzer. The Panzer family also retained the rights to the Bobcat Bite name.

Espinosa said Santa Fe Bite will distinguish itself from Bobcat Bite. For starters, the menu won’t be limited to burger and steak options. Customers will be able to order dishes such as enchiladas, tacos, fish and chips and a 10-ounce burger known as the “Big Bite.”

Santa Fe Bite also will serve breakfast items such as huevos rancheros, French toast, and steak and eggs. Espinosa also said he has applied for a beer and wine license, and, pending approval, Santa Fe Bite will serve drafts from local breweries. Espinosa plans to add shakes, homemade lemonade, local coffee and pastries to the menu as well.

The Eckres’ new location will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Espinosa said the longer hours are to accommodate the expected increase in traffic that comes with a downtown location.

“But you can have a burger at 7 in the morning,” Espinosa said.

Santa Fe Bite will be inside what used to be Le Chantilly Cafe. On Monday, the restaurant was largely empty but Espinosa said he was waiting on new kitchen equipment. Some tables rested against the outside walls, a few stools stood near the bar and in the restaurant’s center was the antique cash register that used to sit on the counter at Bobcat Bite.

Bobcat Bite could only seat about 26 people, but Santa Fe Bite will be able to seat 80 people inside and 36 outside. The larger space will require a larger workforce. At the Eckres’ old location, they had three people in the kitchen and five people up front, but the new space will have eight people in the kitchen and 18 people up front, Espinosa said.

Another change: Customers will be able to pay with credit cards, whereas at Bobcat Bite only took cash.

“It was a huge decision,” he said. “It’s something we should be doing to make things easier for our customers.”

For more information about Santa Fe Bite, call 982-0544.