The historic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., has been sold to a couple from Michigan who will take over full operations on July 1.
Kevin and Nancy Mueller of Brighton, Mich., came to an agreement in principle with previous owners Bill Kinder and Terri Anderson in early April, and closed the deal later that month.
The Muellers will move to Tucumcari on June 20, where Kinder and Anderson will show them the ropes of the operation until the handover on July 1. The Blue Swallow Motel will continue to be open until that time.
Kinder said he and his wife will move to western Arizona, near the border town of Laughlin, Nev. Bill and Terri bought the Blue Swallow in 2006 and greatly improved the motel’s revenue and occupancy rates. However, Bill has been battling cancer in recent years, and those health issues prompted him to put the business up for sale last year.
“We’re going to miss it,” Kinder said. “We’ve met a lot of good friends during our time here.”
Kevin Mueller was employed for 20 years at Valvoline until the Michigan economy cratered and he lost his job. Nancy, who has a background in business and music, lost her job as in the real-estate field not long after that.
Unemployment, Kevin said during a phone interview, led to a lot of soul-searching. Kevin noted his interests included history, old cars and motorcycles. They considered the possibility of owning a business. “How do I make a living with something I enjoy?” Kevin recalled thinking.
The idea of owning a Route 66 motel was planted during the couple’s first Route 66 trip in 2007. While driving through Tucumcari, they noted the Palomino Motel was for sale. They wondered about owning a business on Route 66, but dismissed it because they had one child in college and another starting high school.
Jobless and now empty-nesters, the Muellers in early 2011 reconsidered buying the Palomino Motel. It had long been sold, but noticed the Blue Swallow was for sale.
“This was the coolest place I’d ever seen,” Kevin recalled. “It appealed to me romantically and emotionally.”
Nancy said she initially thought her husband’s idea was “crazy,” But she came around after talking to friends and concluding “we have nothing to lose.”
This led to another Route 66 trip, where the Muellers eventually struck a deal with Kinder and Anderson about buying the property.
“We’re excited to get in line to preserve this place like others have,” Kevin said. “The Blue Swallow is considered the crown jewel of Route 66. It’s hard to believe we’re going to own one.”
Kevin and Nancy think their differing talents will be complementary in running the motel. He said he’e eager to try a few ideas for Blue Swallow, and thinks his “natural sociability” will serve him well.
In June, the Muellers will load up a trailer that’s newly decorated in Blue Swallow Motel colors and images, and head southwest to New Mexico.
“It’s pretty exciting to think we’re going to be our own boss,” Nancy said. “We finally have a chance to do this. I think the sky’s the limit for us.”
(Photos courtesy of Kevin Mueller)