Third Generation Reopens Iconic La Mesita

Family, friends and staff  gather with new La Mesita owner Sean Ewy, center, to cut the ribbon Friday on the new restaurant. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

New La Mesita owner Sean Ewy with his grandmother Barbara Stover Friday in front of the restaurant her husband Smokey started in 1951. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

 

By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post

The grandson of La Mesita founder Charles Smokey Stover reopened the beloved restaurant at 11 a.m., Nov. 11 in the same location where it began more than six decades ago on NM 84/285 in Pojoaque.

Much reminiscing took place at Friday’s ribbon cutting event. Karen Brandt of Los Alamos recounted that her parents brought her to the restaurant in a basket when she was just one week old. They placed her basket near the fireplace. Brandt also was at the restaurant the day it closed in 2001.

Santa Fe artist Sara Shreffler represented her family at Friday’s event. Her father was Robert G.  Shreffler, the head of W Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory and her mother was Lolly Shreffler.

“We used to go to S Site when Smokey was cooking,” she said. “It was Smokey’s idea to open S Site on Tuesday nights so families would have a place to go out and eat because there were no restaurants back then.”

Smokey passed down his passion for food to his daughter Sheila who ran the restaurant until 2001. Sheila, now deceased, was the sister of Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover. Stover and her mother Barbara were among the many family members, friends and staff who cut the ribbon Friday.

Sheila’s son Sean Ewy admitted having some sleepless nights in the weeks leading up to the grand opening.

“I kept thinking – am I going to do honor to what those people remember?” Ewy said.

Fried chicken and a unique salad dressing were two of the menu items people often lamented about in the years since the restaurant closed. The dressing is a big hit again and Ewy said in his first five days of operations he sold 500 orders of chicken.

The flavors and sights and sounds of eating at La Mesita again bring many patrons to tears, he said. It brings back memories of that time in their life when eating in the beloved restaurant was almost a ritual.

“Some people come in and eat and see pictures of my mom and start to tell me a memory … can’t finish and just walk out crying,” he said. “They tell me the meal brought back memories of their freshman year in high school and start crying. We’ve had high school anniversaries here with the class of 74, which is 40 years and the class of 94, which is 20 years and coming up in December we have the class of 64, which is 50 years,” said 45-year-old Ewy. “Now I’m here hiring my classmate’s kids – it’s the circle of life.”

Ewy grew up at La Mesita peeling potatoes and washing dishes. He spent the last 20 years gathering experience in the food business. His grandmother Barbara Stover is 87 years old now, he said, adding that he asked her for her blessing before going forward with his plan to resurrect La Mesita.

O’s Restaurant opened for a time in the former La Mesita space and added a large room to the square footage. Ewy thought about opening “Smokey’s” when O’s closed down about five years ago.

“I came and looked at the space but the timing just didn’t feel right,” he said.  

Ewy went on to gain both corporate and local experience. He spent 10 years working for the Santa Fe Bar and Grill before going to work for Chili’s for another 10 years, opening restaurants in eight states. The last restaurant he opened was in Farmington and that brought him back to New Mexico. He left Chili’s and worked for the Second Street Brewery for about nine months but that wasn’t a good fit, he said.

“I left there and drove around and the more I thought about it – the more I felt the time was right to look at reopening La Mesita,” he said. “There’s been a division in our community and maybe this might bring it back with people breaking bread together.”

Ewy met with Pojoaque Pueblo officials in January and worked out a five-year lease, he said, adding that he cannot purchase the building because it is on sovereign land.

Ewy married his high school sweetheart Paula, 22 years ago and they have two children. Their daughter Megan, 19, is studying music at Oklahoma State. Their son Devon, 15, is a drummer and musician. He also created the new La Mesita logo, which depicts Ewy’s grandfather and grandmother and his mother as a little girl.

“I’m very humbled to bring this back in the family,” he said. “A lady recently told me that very few times in our lifetime do we see something come back. Sometimes I still feel like it’s a dream and I wake up to realize this is actually happening.”

Welcome to La Mesita. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

La Mesita owner Sean Ewy shakes up a new batch of special salad dressing. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost

La Mesita staff. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost

The retaurant began filling up Friday at La Mesita. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

A long history of family photos hang in the entry of La Mesita. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

The bar at La Mesita. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

La Mesita opened Nov. 11 and is using the original retaurant’s French fry cutter from 1951. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

La Mesita owner Sean Ewy recounts memories of his childhood growing up in the restaurant with his grandparents and mother. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

La Mesita hours. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

The newly reopened La Mesita on N.M. 84/285 in Pojoaque. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

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