Cafe owner Mary Gonzales passes away

Posted at: 09/19/2013 6:36 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A legendary award-winning New Mexico restaurant owner has passed away. Mary Gonzales, of Mary & Tito’s Café in Albuquerque’s North Valley, died Tuesday at age 92.

Mary & Tito’s won the prestigious James Beard award for excellence three years ago – an honor bestowed on only three restaurants in the state.

Mary & Tito’s is perhaps best known for its red chile sauce, which is made exactly the way Tito made it when he opened the café in 1963. In fact they make everything to meet Tito’s specifications. He ran the kitchen, but Mary ran the business.  They were a great team until Tito’s death from cancer in 1990. They had three daughters. The middle one, Antoinette Knight, runs the restaurant the way Mary taught her to run it.

“She was a tough little old lady,” Antoinette said during the lunchtime crunch Thursday. “She was tough as nails and she ran her business that way. She loved the restaurant. She loved her customers, but she also loved the business end of it. She just kept it going and kept it going. It was just the love for the food and of course the love for all of the customers.”

Antoinette said she plans to keep Mary & Tito’s going. Her two sons – Mary and Tito’s grandsons – work there.

“She loved people,” Antoinette said. “She and my dad, they both just loved people and loved life.”

The restaurant is at 2711 4th St. NW.


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