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.
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.
I recently traveled to Mesa, Arizona to pick up an iconic Mexican Food neon sign. It now fills our dining room at Milagros with bright colorful light.
This sign is especially important to me because it reminds me of my childhood in Arizona.
Back in the 70s, in Mesa, you were either a Matta’s Mexican Food person or an El Charro fan. It was often a debated subject. I liked them both… or at least parts of both menus. I loved Matta’s salsa but El Charro had better rice. Both old establishments are long gone.
It is hard to believe how short the shelf life is of a “Mom & Pop” restaurant. I think half of them get burned out from the long hours and hard word. Others, just go broke.
After 50 years, the old Matta’s Mexican Food restaurant closed it’s doors and the green neon sign on the front of their building was taken into storage. For years it greeted guests with a steady warm glow. The long hot desert summer sun has faded the lime green paint. It has survived decades of monsoons and sandstorms.
Never in a million years would I have ever imagined the distinct pink neon glow of Matta’s would someday glow in my dining room. To say the least, I’m thrilled with the find and it is worth its weight in gold to me.
Come on into Milagros and enjoy the best Mexican Food around while basking in the pink light of our Matta’s neon sign.
Milagros means Miracles!
P.S. I have met several people who remember the sign and the food… and with much affection. Matta’s… along with the sign is an icon. I’m proud to have a piece of that famous Mexican restaurant at Milagros.