Frontier Restaurant celebrates 50 years in business - Albuquerque Journal

Frontier Restaurant celebrates 50 years in business

Larry and Dorothy Rainosek in March. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

For some, it’s the breakfast burritos rolled up with freshly made tortillas.

For others, it’s splitting a piping-hot sweet roll with friends, or in pre-pandemic days, sitting in a booth surrounded by portraits of John Wayne pinned to the walls while watching people make their way up and down Central.

But whether it’s the charm or the chile, there’s something special that has kept Burqueños coming back to the iconic Frontier Restaurant for the past 50 years.

“It’s sort of like a melting pot where people come and meet,” said Dorothy Rainosek, Frontier co-founder and owner.

The restaurant celebrates its 50th anniversary Wednesday.

Located at the corner of Central and Cornell, the restaurant has not always been the sprawling collection of rooms that many are familiar with today.

Rainosek said when she and her husband, Larry, opened Frontier on Feb. 10, 1971 it was a comparatively small 99-seat single room restaurant with a menu limited to diner breakfasts, hamburgers and the famous sweet roll. The green chile and tortillas came later.

“Our employee taught us about green chile, because coming from Texas, everything was Tex-Mex,” she said. “We had no idea about chile or red chile.”

Now green chile and Frontier make an inseparable duo.

Rainosek said it’s not uncommon for customers to buy the chile by the half gallon to take home and freeze.

Over the years, the couple amassed property surrounding the restaurant, providing it with more dining rooms and more importantly, parking spaces, all while slowly cementing itself into an Albuquerque landmark.

For most of its time, Frontier provided a snapshot of Albuquerque: Young families waiting in line for a weekend breakfast, high schoolers celebrating a win after a sports game, college students cramming before a test and concert goers looking for a late night snack.

While the restaurant draws locals and tourists alike, Rainosek said the decades have also been marked by celebrity visits, features in national television shows and even a rumor that the Dalai Lama once stopped by. (Rainosek said she wasn’t there to confirm that visit.)

But, like many landmark spots, the coronavirus has quieted the normally bustling restaurant.

Rainosek said while the restaurant is offering take-out and even installed a take-out window, Frontier is not known for its take-out.

“It’s more for people watching, families, friends getting together,” she said. “It was not intended to be to-go, but the community is supporting us.”

Despite being transplants from Austin, Texas, Rainosek said she and her husband entwined themselves with Albuquerque’s business and philanthropic communities.

“Our dream was fulfilled in many, many ways, allowing us to give back to the community, to be supportive of the university, the sports, the many charities that we have here,” Rainosek said. “It’s been sort of the American dream.”

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Frontier Restaurant is offering specials on popular menu items like breakfast burritos and sweet rolls.


Home » Business » Most Recent Biz News » Frontier Restaurant celebrates 50 years in business

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

NM ranks first again for fatal pedestrian crashes
ABQnews Seeker
for the sixth year in a ... for the sixth year in a row. The Governors Highway Safety Association ranked New Mexico as having the highest rate per capita of pedestrian ...
Buffalo shooting victim laid to rest; city marks 1 ...
ABQnews Seeker
Roberta Drury, a 32-year-old woman who ... Roberta Drury, a 32-year-old woman who was the youngest of the 10 Black people killed at a Buffalo supermarket, was remembered at her funeral ...
US, SKorea open to expanded military drills to deter ...
ABQnews Seeker
U.S. President Joe Biden and South ... U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said after meeting Saturday that they will consider expanded joint military exercises to ...
Former Ohio prisons chief top contender to run US ...
ABQnews Seeker
The former director of the Ohio ... The former director of the Ohio state prison system has emerged as a leading contender to run the crisis-plagued federal Bureau of Prisons, three ...
New Mexico-based 'quantum dot' maker growing by leaps and ...
ABQnews Seeker
Microscopic, New Mexico-made 'quantum dots' could ... Microscopic, New Mexico-made 'quantum dots' could soon be powering up commercial buildings, boosting greenhouse production and, eventually, even feeding astronauts on the moon. Los ...
Being a good CPA means being there in crisis
ABQnews Seeker
I grew up on the East ... I grew up on the East Coast. When I moved to Tucson for graduate school, and later to Albuquerque, I was shocked by the ...
How Bimbo lost its trademark case
ABQnews Seeker
Forty-some years ago, Leland Sycamore developed ... Forty-some years ago, Leland Sycamore developed a recipe for making at commercial scale something that resembled homemade bread. To avoid the mass-produced look, the ...
Green chile brand hosting nationwide recipe contest
ABQnews Seeker
505Southwestern is celebrating 25 years in ... 505Southwestern is celebrating 25 years in business by hosting a nationwide recipe contest and making donations to its scholarship fund, according to a news ...
First New Mexico cannabis excise tax payments due Wednesday
ABQnews Seeker
The first excise tax filings and ... The first excise tax filings and payments are due Wednesday for sales made through the month of April, according to a news release from ...