SURPRISING!!! Friends invited me to eat at La Fonda Mexican Restaurant in Flagstaff, AZ last Tuesday night, and I was AMAZED! The place was totally PACKED without a table to spare by 5:30 p.m. A waiting line zigzagged out the door like a impatient snake waiting to strike! My friends had to wait 20 minutes to be seated when they arrived around 5:15 p.m. I had no idea that Taco Tuesday was a Flagstaff favorite for the masses! The food was great and the atmosphere was festive! For being so crowded and busy, the customer service was superb.
Historically, out West, at the peak of the gold rush, the name “La Fonda” came to be known as a little Mexican restaurant. In Spanish, it sounded something like this: *”En una fonda Chiquita que parecer restaurante”. Historians say that these places became a place for food, *”rest and company during lonely times. The services were often paid with gold nuggets newly acquired by these gold seekers. The hospitality offered by these warm refuge dwellings became the inspiration for the” Mexican restaurant of La Fonda in Flagstaff, AZ today.
The fun got started when three Garcia brothers, Frank Sr., Sylvester and Albert, of St. Johns, AZ married three sisters from the Merced Rodriquez family of Flagstaff, AZ. In 1957, Silver got the idea to have a restaurant and approached his brothers about starting a business. They had to borrow against most of their possessions, even *”their furniture and Sylvester’s beloved piano.” With only $6000, they operated out of what was originally Frank Sr.’s home.
Our seater and manager of the restaurant, Stephanie Garcia, said the business has its roots from her grandmother and her two sisters making enchiladas and tortillas out of Frank Sr.’s home. They would send the kids out to deliver from house to house. When the restaurant opened, the home seated 30 guests. The need to expand happened fairly quickly. Once more funds had to be scraped together. Even Sylvester had to put up his truck as collateral to obtain the loan. The present location on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street, 2 blocks south of the original location, became the new home of La Fonda.
Stephanie is the third generation that has worked at the restaurant still owned by the family. She says that her grandfather, at 92 years of age, continues to make tacos for Taco Tuesday and other days when he is in town. La Fonda is open 6 days a week and closed on Sunday. To quote Silver about this, he stated: *”We are doing this in order to give our employees a day of rest with their families and to attend the church of their choice.” The family credits their success *”to the cooperation and support of the ‘working people’ of Flagstaff who have supported and patronized them . . .”
If you are traveling through town on a Tuesday in late afternoon or anytime you are wandering through Flagstaff, you might consider stopping by this family friendly Mexican restaurant for some mouth-watering tacos and other tempting Mexican fare! Be sure and get there early and don’t forget who sent you: Team Tait – the team for meeting all your Arizona real estate needs!
*Quotes taken from restaurant article and story given to Leslie by restaurant manager, Stephanie Garcia
By Leslie Crawley, Assistant to Jacki Tait
Realtor of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty