Leona Medina-Tiede, the eldest daughter in a Chimayo family of eleven, remembers helping her uncle run a food stand during the summer and then working with her mother to sell steaming bowls of posole and fresh tortillas to the pilgrims journeying to the Holy Shrine of Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas during the week before Easter. The pleasure that she took in preparing the food and feeding the hungry pilgrims remain with her to this day and her restaurant is founded on the love and care that she shares with all visitors.
In 1977 Leona started a roadside stand along New Mexico Highway 76 in Chimayo serving the flavorful food that she learned from her mother. Her reputation for excellence and deep commitment to quality service quickly grew and, as the Santuario became more popular, she and her husband, Dennis, converted a storage shed next to Leona’s childhood home and adjoining the Santuario into a take-out restaurant, staffing it with family members.
From its beginning, the restaurant has been strictly a family affair. It is in their blood. Even son, Paul, at age 9, could prepare everything they sold. To this day, during Holy Week, the entire family assembles to prepare food for the 40,000 to 50,000 walkers making the pilgrimage to the Santuario.
For many years, Leona has served the visitors to this village, knowing in her heart that long hours and quality ingredients are the keys to culinary success.
On 29 November 2014, Leona passed away after a brief illness. The restaurant she began is now being run by her eldest daughter and son-in-law with help from their children. Every meal that they serve is in loving memory of Leona.