Our mission is to provide a haven from
the din of restaurant monotony with a
rustic, yet elegant ambiance, simple and
well-prepared meals, and professional,
Where Old Meets New……
Since 1949, Ardovino's Desert Crossing has been building its reputation by offering the finest quality ingredients, innovative cuisine, and exceptional service. Following in the footsteps of “Uncle Frank” Ardovino and their parents, Joseph and Maria Ardovino, the brother and sister team of Robert and Marina Ardovino have renovated the original buildings once known as “Ardovino’s Roadside Inn,” transforming the old ranch house and barn into a swank new restaurant and banquet facility.
The Ardovino Family
Marina, Maria, Joseph, Jennifer, and Robert
Built in the early 1900’s, the Ranch House, now the setting of the Restaurant and Mecca Lounge, was homesteaded by Eileen Berg. The accompanying stone water tower and windmill provided water to the ranch and the surrounding grounds.
In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built a second building on the property, which was known as the “Barn.” The history of its use is a bit sketchy but the theories suggest its use as an Army barracks and a Border Patrol outpost. Today, this building is called the Sunset Hall (for its western views of the mesas overlooking the valley) and is the main banquet hall on the property.
Adjacent to the property is an old swimming pool and lounging area, once used by guests as a “day club.” Currently, this area is used as a garden for growing fresh vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant.
In 1948, Uncle Frank purchased the property and used it as his personal residence. He was the co-owner of the Mecca Club, a small drinking establishment in Anapra, New Mexico. It experienced numerous transformations throughout its entertaining life – “key club,” private men’s club, gambling club, and even a show club. In 1949, Frank opened “Ardovino’s Roadside Inn.” When the state of New Mexico began cracking down on illegal gambling, Frank shifted his focus to serving food. He added a kitchen to the ranch house and transformed his residence into a dining room.
According to former patrons, the restaurant was extremely elegant – the tables were covered with lace tablecloths and the plates were fine china. The wait staff, several of which were professional “Pullman” operators, exhibited all the charm of the golden days of the railroad. The menu, simple yet tasteful, stated the available selections and the amount of time needed for preparation, but no prices. Every dish was prepared to order using only the finest and freshest ingredients available, something Ardovino's Desert Crossing still does today.
After Frank’s death in 1973, Ardovino’s Roadside Inn closed its doors. The property was leased out until 1976 and then became vacant for nearly 20 years until Robert Ardovino rediscovered the beauty of the wooden roof trusses, picture view windows, and tiled floors and began the long renovation process. He painstakingly searched through old storage sheds, rooms, and the basement in search of artifacts and memorabilia to adorn the walls.
In 1997, the Ardovino's Desert Crossing opened its doors once again as a full service banquet facility providing guests with the perfect setting for an outdoor or indoor wedding, birthday party, or other special occasion. The Mecca Lounge and Restaurant have been in operation since November 2002. The renovations continue, with the expansion of the restaurant and menu, plans for an RV Park and Roadside Inn (using renovated vintage travel trailers), and the eventual repair of the 50’s swimming pool.
As our journey continues and time goes by, we hope to bring more of the splendor of an earlier era back into the lives of our guests. Come relax on our patios, and as the evening passenger train winds its way around Mount Cristo Rey, you’ll understand why.
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