LOS LUNAS — Henrietta’s American and New Mexico Food restaurant closed last week after 32 years in business.
The owner, Henrietta Rogoni, a northeastern New Mexican native, said she’s grateful to all her staff and loyal patrons.
“I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, made a lot of friends,” Rogani said. “I have employees that are friends, and just wonderful, loyal customers.
The idea for Henrietta’s restaurant began when Rogoni was living in Albuquerque managing Little Anita’s Mexican Foods. Rogoni was told that there was “a little place at Mondell Plaza” in Los Lunas.
She bought the little place and began her namesake restaurant, Henrietta’s American and New Mexican Food, cooking most of the meals herself.
“I was a pretty good cook. I made a pretty plate and cooked it right and I was fast,” Rogoni said in a phone interview.
Each dish was selected by Rogoni from her own recipes, including specialty dishes to give her customers variety. When she hired line cooks, she showed them how she wanted the food prepared and that’s how it was done.
Business was good Rogoni said, so after 10 years, she was able to build a new restaurant from the ground up on Main Street.
Over the years, Rogoni employed more than 500 people, she said, and about eight or so of her staff have been with her for decades.
“It was just time to get out of the restaurant business,” she said. “There’s a lot of restaurants — you know it’s slicing the pie. A lot of restaurants are sharing customers and it’s rough to stay in business.”
Food costs have also increased and Rogoni didn’t want to raise her prices, she said, plus line cooks are hard to find.
“I had two great cooks but I needed six,” she said.
“I wish all the other restaurants well,” Rogoni continued, “and I hope (locals) patronize them rather than taking it to the city.”
Many fond memories were made over the course of 32 years in the restaurant business — birthday parties, receptions, business meetings, Christmas parties and family get-togethers took place at Henrietta’s.
“Probably my most enjoyable thing about the people that came in to celebrate their birthday was when they came to celebrate their 100th birthday,” Rogoni said. “They were just so excited — that’s what touched my heart probably more than anything.”
When Rogoni meets customers out around town or in Albuquerque, they give her a big hug, she said.
“I just hope that continues,” she said.
Having free time will be something new for the business woman, and she looks forward to it after running the business for so many years.
“Seven days a week for 32 years except for holidays,” Rogoni said. “I had a good run and I appreciate my employees and every customer that walked through my doors. I wish all the employees and customers well.
“If it wasn’t for my customers who were faithful — sometimes coming in twice a day is what kept me going longer and I appreciate that and hope that I gave a good meal for a good price.”