Route 66 Restaurant in Santa Rosa closes

The stalwart Route 66 Restaurant along that historic highway in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, closed Sept. 14, according to the local newspaper.

The Sept. 19 print edition of The Communicator showed a photograph of the restaurant on an inside page with this caption:

An empty building along Historic Route 66 now stands after the old highway’s namesake closed its doors. The Route 66 Restaurant, owned and operated by the Velasquez family since 1986, served its last meal Saturday, leaving the city with one less small business operation on the eastern side of town.

I happened to be in Santa Rosa on Friday evening for another assignment. Pulling up to the restaurant, one of its windows had a piece of paper taped to it that stated, “Closed For Ever.” Then an older woman walked up from the inside and unlocked the front door.

She said she was Mary Velasquez, one of the cafe’s operators. She said she’d shut down the restaurant because she was sick and “I’m too tired.” A clerk at the nearby La Quinta Inn said by phone earlier Friday the restaurant had been foreclosed. I asked Velasquez about it, and she acknowledged it had been foreclosed by Community 1st Bank Las Vegas of Las Vegas, New Mexico. She said if anyone was interested in buying the building, he or she would have to contact the bank there.

The restaurant endured one setback a few years ago when a lightning strike destroyed its electrical system and started a small fire in the kitchen. However, the Route 66 Restaurant was back open in about a week.

Its decor was 1950s-themed, which fit with the building’s architecture and furnishings. The late Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire even made a print of it.

The Route 66 Restaurant still was listed Friday on the city’s tourism website in listings for places to eat. The restaurant over the years was listed under several addresses — 2295 Historic Route 66, 1819 Historic Route 66 and 1819 Will Rogers Drive.

The cafe’s online reviews had been mixed. shouldn’t be given too much credence, but it had been rated as 17th of 19 restaurants in Santa Rosa. Ouch.

(Image of the Route 66 Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, in 2009 by Bradley Gordon via Flickr)

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