Me & Matta’s neon headed for Milagros
I recently had a chance to pick up an iconic Mexican Food neon sign from Mesa Arizona.
I’m always on the lookout for signs from the past. They tell a story that only 50 years of glow can tell.
Neon signs are hard to find and it’s becoming a lost art. When a neon sign breaks, it’s not uncommon to just toss it in the landfill and call some schmuck in a shiny red truck to replace your classic sign with a plastic back-lit can sign. Uggg!
But first… before I tell you about my rare find… let me give you a little history.
I have always been a sucker for vintage neon signs and clocks. It started back when I was about four years old.
Rambler Motel in the 60s
My grandmother owned a motel called “The Rambler”. It was located in Provo, Utah and it was due west of the Utah Valley Hospital. (Big medical offices are there now.)
“The Rambler Motel” greeted guests with the typical 1960s sign. I remember helping pick out the letters that boasted of a warm swimming pool and really clean rooms.
So… you see, my fondness for signs came at an early age out of that experience.
Back to the Mexican Food neon sign.
After I settled on starting a Mexican Food restaurant, I spent a lot of time exploring recipes for the best Mexican food around. Sooo… I figured I should go where the cuisine was legitimate and see how real Mexican food was prepared and what it taste like.
I explored hundred of “roadside taco carts” or Taquerias throughout Mexico. The Chiva (goat) district of Petatlan, Mexico, where each shack serves a different cut of goat, offered a unique and exciting experience. From goat tongue to brains… very little went to waste.
One of my favorite activities in Mexico was to trick “rookie travelers.” They usually loved the feast I ordered for them from the colorful Taquerias. (Each Taqueria sat no more than 6 customers at a time.)
I waited till they finished (and they had raved about their meal) before disclosing what they actually had eaten.
Warning: Women are less tolerant to eating “Goat Tongue Tacos” without previous knowledge. I learned that it was wisest to stick to male buddies. They tend to be easier going about what they ate. Read More→
After my dream of being an airline pilot was dashed because of my poor heart health, I began looking for a new dream. Several experiences opened up restaurateur possibilities. My folks use to take us to Utah to visit family who lived there. One of my favorite places to eat was a Pizza/Italian restaurant across from BYU’s track and field called “The Rusty Nail.” They served a basket of bread sticks that were about the size of a cigar.
One day, there was a group of BYU students seated at a nearby table and they were having a contest… which one of them could stick a Rusty Nail bread stick the furthest up their nose. For an 8-year old, it seemed really funny and cool.
However, I was the only one amused by the obnoxious student’s contest. Before long, the Rusty Nail manager had the students leave. I remember how much I enjoyed seeing how much fun the group of guys were having. I thought…. “If I owned the restaurant, I wouldn’t have them leave.”
There was also another Italian/Pizza joint in Page, Arizona, named “Bella Napoli.” We would go there when we went to Lake Powell. They placed wicker wrapped wine bottle on each table to hold drip candles. The bottles were covered with various colors of candle wax. After awhile, they would become too large and top-heavy and had to be replaced with new bottles and candles. To say the least… I was impressed.
When ever we made a trip to Lake Powell, I knew the owner had saved a big drip candle for me to take home.
These two experiences opened up new stirring and creative possibilities of being a restaurateur. Soon, owning a restaurant began to fill my dreams.
To be continued….
P.S. It’s strange how simple, common everyday experiences can become so profound in a young child’s life. Dreams are built on such experiences. You just never know!
I was pretty young when I decided I wanted to become a “Mexican Food Restaurateur” ( proprietor of a restaurant). However, it certainly wasn’t my first dream.
When I was a very young kid, I want to fly a big silver airplane for American Airlines. Dad traveled often and Mom would pack us kids up in the wood-paneled station wagon and drive to the St. Louis Airport to pick him up.
Specifically, I loved the plane called the L-1011 made by Lockheed (pronounced L-10-11). It was used by American Airlines only and was a much larger plane than was being flown by other airlines.
It was a bullet and a bulldozer all at the same time. The gleaming chrome finish was adorned with a red, white and blue stripe. Man, I thought those big planes were the coolest ever! Actually, there where times I was more excited to see the giant chrome Lockheed L-1011 at the airport than I was my weary dad.
I was pretty insistent that I was going to be a pilot some day. Realizing I was headed for major disappointment, when I was about 7 years old, my parents sat me down and explained Read More→