Victor Medina and Denise Lane at the Dixie Girl Restaurant Tuesday. Medina and his wife Patricia officially take ownership of the eatery Friday. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Victor Jose Medina, son of the Dixie Girl’s new owners has worked at the restaurant since it opened in 2012. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
After Denise Lane sold Victor Manuel Medina and his wife Patricia a new home last month, she turned around and sold them her Dixie Girl Restaurant. Medina joked with the Los Alamos Daily Post Tuesday afternoon that he had to count his fingers to be sure he still had them all.
“In all seriousness, Denise is a wonderful person and she made me a wonderful offer I just couldn’t refuse … besides, I was beginning to get bored,” he said.
Medina, 69, retired in 2005 from Los Alamos National Laboratory where he worked as a computer engineer.
“I’ve been a foodie all my life … I really enjoy cooking and do most of the cooking at home,” Medina said. “I always dreamed of owning my own restaurant or brewpub so when Denise offered this restaurant to me I couldn’t say no.”
Medina explained that he is a person who thinks outside the box and starting a new venture at his age doesn’t bother him in the least.
“When you start focusing too much on age, that’s when you start to get old,” he said. “Age is just a number – you’ve got to live a full life.”
Medina and Patricia moved from El Paso, Texas to Los Alamos in 1982 after he got a job at LANL. The couple met Lane shortly afterward when she owned her diner in Mari Mac Plaza. It turned out that Patricia and Lane both went to school at Loretto Academy in El Paso.
In 1990, the Medinas opened the Toy Chest where China Palace is now in Mari Mac Plaza, which they operated until 1993. Patricia went on to work at LANL and will continue to do so, Medina said, adding that he and his son Victor Jose Medina will operate the restaurant. Victor Jose has been working at the Dixie Girl since it opened in July 2012 and Medina said he hopes to turn over the restaurant to him in a few years.
Medina and his wife will officially sign the papers to buy the Dixie Girl Thursday under their company Pajarito Management, LLC. They will open for business Friday but close Saturday to meet with employees and reorganize before opening again Monday. No plans exist to change the name or the menu for several weeks.
“We want to wait until right after the first of the year to have a community-wide contest to rename our restaurant. I’m hoping a name comes up that reflects the culture of Los Alamos,” he said. “The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate. We’ll have a drawing in the case of more than one person coming up with the winning name.”
As for Lane, she wanted to avoid fanfare about selling her restaurant and moving away.
“I was hoping to fade quietly into the sunset,” she said.
That isn’t happening as community members JJ Maier and Mary McInerny have organized a campaign at the Los Alamos and White Rock Visitor Centers and other locations for people to sign banners expressing their best wishes for Lane. They also have been busy inviting the community to have lunch at the Dixie Girl Friday and say goodbye to Lane.
“Denise is going to be a tough act to follow,” Medina said.
The Medina’s have three children including Victor Jose, 31, Yvette, 30, who graduates in May from Rutgers School of Law and Tomas, 24, who attends New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
A Thanksgiving Day buffet will be the first big event under the Medina’s new ownership. The menu will include all-you-can-eat prime rib, roast turkey and all the fixings at $37.50 for adults, $15 for teenagers and $7 for children under 12. Reservations are required and can be arranged by calling 505.662.1436.
Mary McInerny invited Rotarians meeting Tuesday in the back room at the Dixie Girl to stop by the restaurant Friday to have lunch wish former owner Denise Lane well. Community members also are invited to Friday’s event. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com