De Colores owner Joan Duran, center, with her daughter Debbie, left, and longtime manager Sue Dummer pause for a photo a few minutes before closing the restaurant for good Wednesday night after 35.5 years in business. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
De Colores chef Tim Duran, right, with his son Cody who is the third generation to work at the restaurant. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
The restaurant filled to capacity with well wishers Wednesday evening. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post
Joan Duran announced her retirement last week in the Los Alamos Daily Post and said Wednesday that she has been overwhelmed with well wishers ever since. De Colores is the longest running restaurant in Los Alamos and Duran’s announcement sent shock waves across the community.
“So many people have come in to say goodbye and enjoy one last meal here in the restaurant,” Duran said. “It’s really been bittersweet.”
Diners looked around the large dining room and reminisced about the years they had eaten at the restaurant, celebrating anniversaries, birthdays and other special events.
Duran explained last week that her lease at 2470 East Road was up in May and she was thinking about retiring then but her landlord asked her to stay until the end of the year. She was surprised when he called her last week and said he had someone interested in the building and told her she could leave as soon as she was ready.
“We opened De Colores April 1, 1978 and I think 35.5 years is enough time in a restaurant … my kids are happy, so it’s time to retire,” Duran said at the time.
De Colores first opened in the former Tastee Freeze location on N.M. 4 in White Rock where the Hive is now. Her daughter Debbie was a student at Los Alamos High School. Her son Tim was in junior high and her youngest son George was 5 years old.
“George just turned 40,” Duran said last week. “He and all of our kids have worked at the restaurant and so have our six grandchildren.”
In 1989, Duran moved De Colores to a location behind the former 31 Flavors on Trinity Drive in Los Alamos. In 2004, she moved her restaurant to its present location on East Road.
“We’ve met and made such great friends through the years and know so many by name,” she said when announcing her retirement. “We’ve also had great employees … I’ve been lucky that so many have stayed with us a long time.”
Duran plans to spend some of her time now helping her husband Mel Duran in his business, Jemez Technology, and more time visiting her 96-year-old mother Rachel Apodaca Cunningham.
“I’m going to miss being in business but it’s time to spend more time with my family now,” Duran said.
Faithful customers stop by De Colores to wish owner Joan Duran and the staff the best in their future endeavors. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Three generations gather one last time for their favorite De Colores meals. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Manager Katy Korkos, right, stopped by De Colores Wednesday evening to thank owner Joan Duran for her years of service to the community and to wish her well in her retirement. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Diners enjoy a final meal at De Colores. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Coming down the home stretch Wednesday evening, cooks work at a fast clip preparing final meals for customers in the packed dining room at De Colores. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Wednesday marked the final open mic night in the Cantina at De Colores Restaurant. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
A final toast to Joan Duran and De Colores Restaurant. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com