A long-awaited feature in the New Mexico Route 66 Association’s publication reveals fascinating details about the much-discussed (and cussed) Glorieta Station and its neon-sign collection in Albuquerque.
Nick Gerlich, a marketing professor at West Texas A&M University and a Route 66 enthusiast, wrote the article for the current, spring 2020 edition of the association’s Route 66 New Mexico magazine. The article had been known since August amid the furor of the disappearance of several historic Route 66 signs in New Mexico.
Glorieta Station, housed in the defunct Southwestern Brewery and a former Coors beer distributorship, sits near John Street and Lomas Avenue, about four blocks from the early alignment of Route 66 in Albuquerque.
Glorieta Station, which contains more than 100 vintage neon signs with 80 of them restored, essentially is owned by Garcia Automotive Group in Albuquerque and run by Carlos and Ed Garcia. Carlos spoke to Gerlich at length in the article. Cantina Real in the complex is slated to open to the public sometime this year.
Factoids that emerged in Gerlich’s article:
— We now have a more definitive listing of the Route 66 signs the Garcias have acquired. They are:
- Jack’s Liquor Store, Albuquerque
- Kurt’s Camera Corral, Albuquerque
- Oden Chevrolet, Albuquerque
- Ponderosa RV Park, Albuquerque
- Cavalier Motel, Albuquerque
- Cactus RV Park, Tucumcari
- Club Cafe, Santa Rosa
- Sahara Lounge, Santa Rosa
- Franciscan Lodge, Grants
- Grants Cafe, Grants
The Los Alamitos Motel sign in Grants disappeared last year, but the Garcias do not possess it and do not know where it went. They surmise it went to a collector out of state.
The Paradise Motel sign in Tucumcari was procured by a collector in Wisconsin, with which Route 66 News keeps in periodic contact. The shuttered motel had suffered through two suspicious fires before the collector bought it and took it down.
— In several cases, Carlos Garcia said the signs they acquired were from closed businesses in which owners were going to discard the signs, sell them to an out-of-state buyer or the signs were in bad shape.
Regarding the Kurt’s Camera Corral sign, Carlos said: “A friend of mine was buying the building, and they were just going to throw the sign away.”
Regarding the Grants Cafe sign, Carlos said the owners “were going to sell it no matter what.”
Regarding the Sahara Lounge sign, the long-closed building and sign had suffered damage from a windstorm and had become a public hazard.
“Our No. 1 goal is we’re going to keep New Mexico signs in New Mexico,” Carlos said.
— Carlos said he is open to restoring the Club Cafe sign and returning it to Santa Rosa if a good proposal was presented to them.
“If somebody had a viable plan to put the Club Cafe sign back in Santa Rosa, we say we’ll take it back. We’ll donate it, and we’ll pay to move it because it has caused us more grief than good.”
— Gerlich reported an online petition against the sign removals, despite drawing more than 1,500 signatures as of Tuesday, never was delivered to the Garcias. It struggled to reach 5% participation of the largest Route 66 social-media group on which it was posted, he reported.
— The Garcias purchased the building that housed Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry store in downtown Albuquerque, but its neon sign was sold before they acquired the property and its whereabouts are unknown. Maisel announced his forthcoming retirement in early 2019.
— Glorieta Station isn’t all just antique signs. It also contains classic cars and trucks, antique tractors, midget race cars, old gas pumps and other types of signs.
(Image of Jack’s Liquor Store sign in Albuquerque restored by Glorieta Station via Facebook)