Hotel retaurant closes after more than 50 years


January 8, 2020

The Branding Iron Restaurant served its last meals Sunday evening at the Quality Inn hotel in Tucumcari after more than a half-century there.

The closing of the dinner-only restaurant 3716 E. Tucumcari Blvd. left five workers without jobs.

Sally Maestas, general manager of the hotel, said she received word Dec. 30 the Quality Inn's owner, HK Hospitality LLC of the Houston area, would shut down the restaurant.

“It was the owner's decision,” Maestas said during a phone interview Friday. “It's usually slow this season, and the overhead got to be too much.”

Maestas posted Thursday on Facebook: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of the Branding Iron Restaurant. … Thank you to all our patrons who have frequented our restaurant. And a special thank you to the employees who kept it going for all of these years.”

Allison Montoya, who'd been a server at the restaurant for nine years, said she was shocked and saddened by the announcement.

“It's been good money,” she said. “It probably ... it is the best restaurant in town. I think (the owners) made a huge mistake (closing it). We gained a lot of locals, and it's really sucky to watch it go.”

Danny Ellis and his wife, Linda, of Tucumcari were among the first customers when the Branding Iron opened Sunday evening for the final time.

“It's a good place,” Danny said.

“We don't need to lose another restaurant in this town,” Linda said.

Maestas said the restaurant's dining area would remain for the hotel's overnight guests to eat their complimentary breakfasts.

Maestas said the Quality Inn originally was built as a Holiday Inn in 1965, and it contained a restaurant on the premises then.

She said the Branding Iron lost its full bar in 2010, but the restaurant kept going, serving evening meals seven days a week.

“It's been a staple out here for years,” she said. "It's been a really hard week for many of us."


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