Serving the High Plains

NM Route 66 group honors two Tucumcari businesses

The owners of two Tucumcari businesses learned last week they earned the New Mexico Route 66 Association's Heritage Award.

Association President Melissa Lea Beasley and fellow board members of the nonprofit organization were scheduled to present the awards to Loretta's Burrito Hut and the Roadrunner Lodge Motel on Tuesday.

The New Mexico Route 66 Association announced the awards with emailed news releases on Thursday.

Loretta's was honored for its "restoration efforts to this historic restaurant and creative adaptation of neon sign and trim while providing delicious, local flavors with friendly service, contributing to the roadside culture of Route 66," the news release stated.

Reached by phone Friday morning, restaurant owner Loretta Muller was surprised by the news.

"Wow," she said. "I didn't know what. That's really cool."

Muller said when she moved her business into the former Joe's Back in the Day Diner building a few years ago, she wanted to preserve its classic Route 66 look, including repurposing an old neon sign.

"I wanted people going west this was the Burrito Hut," she said. "That cost me a pretty penny, putting that up."

The Roadrunner Lodge Motel was honored for the "continuing revitalization of this classic Route 66 motel, merging a cool retro mid-century modern environment with groovy 1960s accents, providing a genuine and memorable Route 66 experience," the news release stated.

Owner David Brenner said in a phone interview Friday he "absolutely" was committed to a midcentury look with the property, formerly at Leatherwood Manor motel, when he acquired it in 2014.

Brenner said he was pivoting the motel's décor somewhat to tiki or oceanside style, but that still remains consistent with 1960s midcentury era and architecture.

"It still in line with midcentury, but it's going to be more specific," he said.

"It's an incredible honor to have this type of recognition," he added of the association's award. "I did not expect it. It was a nice surprise."