From burgers to boutique - Albuquerque Journal

From burgers to boutique

Fred Archuleta, who manages and co-owns El Taoseno Restaurant with his family, works to close up the restaurant in Taos. The owners are retiring. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

TAOS – It’s been the scene of countless dinners, weddings, fundraisers, graduations, fiesta dances and reggae concerts.

Now El Taoseño, a hub of Taos dining, has been sold to another icon, a local mattress maven.

Mary Domito, known locally as “Mattress Mary,” owner of two Taos furniture and bedding stores, closed last week on the sale of the local favorite from the five Archuleta siblings who have owned and operated the Paseo del Pueblo Sur landmark since it opened in 1994.

Yolanda, Fred, Orlando, Leonard and Diana Archuleta closed the restaurant Dec. 31 in order to retire.

Domito will join the restaurant building with her existing furniture store next door making the complex into a 23,000-square-foot shopping experience on 1.83 acres.

The establishment launches her new, private label with branded mattresses, bedding and apparel under the Double-M/Taos Brand, said a news release announcing the sale.

“I’m glad we were able to keep it with her,” said Yolanda Archuleta. “She (Domito) is really part of the community.”

End of an era

Flora Archuleta and her family members pack up items from El Taoseno Restaurant in Taos. The Archuleta family has run the restaurant for many years. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

For the Archuletas, their employees and their loyal clientele the transaction was bittersweet.

“There were four generations that actually worked here,” Yolanda’s brother Fred said. The business helped hundreds of employees and members of the family “get through high school, to college and to move on to the careers they have now,” he said.

Steven Archuleta, grandson of Orlando, washed dishes and cooked there.

“For my grandparents, and aunts and uncles, it’s good for them to retire,” he said. “I’ll miss it, there are a lot of memories here.”

On Wednesday, several generations of Archuletas scurried throughout the cavernous building – which includes a dance hall and bowling alley – packing up and moving all the equipment, furniture and dinnerware for liquidation.

“I think our local patrons they are going to miss us,” Yolanda Archuleta said, as she packed water pitchers at the restaurant last week. “They came here to socialize, they came here to share a meal, they came here just to connect with the roots of Taos.”

It wasn’t just food, Archuleta said, music in many forms from zydeco to reggae once echoed through the building.

“This was the hub of the community, we even brought reggae in here, they did a lot of reggae dances here.”

Move to retail

Domito has plans to keep things local as a counterpoint to big-box national players and she plans to keep the location connected to the town’s ethos and character.

“Taos has an undefinable quality to it that is unique,” Domito said. She added she wants the business to grow “but I want to keep it simple.”

Domito moved to Taos 20 years ago after working in mattress sales in California and the East Coast. She opened her first store in 2004 after her research revealed there were no mattress stores in Taos.

Her new acquisition is “going to allow me to consolidate the two stores I currently have, I never wanted to have more than one store in Taos,” Domito said.

Domito will turn the dining room into a gift/gallery/provisions/branded apparel department with the work of local artisans, ceramics, gifts, greeting cards, gourmet food items, T-shirts, caps, hoodies and other wearables.

The back of the building will display and sell mattresses and the old bowling alley area will be a warehouse. A food truck for the property is also in the works.

The sale was “beautiful timing,” Domito said. “The Archuletas were ready to retire and I was needing to expand.”

Domito hopes that customers may come in for a mattress and leave with an appreciation of local history.

“I am seeking old photographs, bowling pins and any artifacts and things that I will feature throughout the store,” she said.

Domito’s Mountain Lifestyle Furnishings stores employ nine full-time employees but she declined to reveal her annual sales volume. The listing price for El Taoseño was $2 million, according to Domito.

The current store location next to Albertson’s on the south side of Taos will close July 31. The new El Taoseño location is scheduled to open in July.

The sale was just for the building itself and the El Taoseño name is up for sale separately, according to Fred Archuleta.

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