Built in the early 1900’s, the Ranch House, now the setting of the Restaurant and Mecca Lounge, was homesteaded by Eileen Berg. The accompanying stone water tower and windmill provided water to the ranch and the surrounding grounds.
In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built a second building on the property, which was known as the “Barn.” The history of its use is a bit sketchy but the theories suggest its use as an Army barracks and a Border Patrol outpost. Today, this building is called the Sunset Hall (for its western views of the mesas overlooking the valley) and is the main banquet hall on the property.
Adjacent to the property is an old swimming pool and lounging area, once used by guests as a “day club.” Currently, this area is used as a garden for growing fresh vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant.
In 1948, Uncle Frank purchased the property and used it as his personal residence. He was the co-owner of the Mecca Club, a small drinking establishment in Anapra, New Mexico. It experienced numerous transformations throughout its entertaining life – “key club,” private men’s club, gambling club, and even a show club.
In 1949, Frank opened “Ardovino’s Roadside Inn.” When the state of New Mexico began cracking down on illegal gambling, Frank shifted his focus to serving food. He added a kitchen to the ranch house and transformed his residence into a dining room.
According to former patrons, the restaurant was extremely elegant – the tables were covered with lace tablecloths and the plates were fine china. The wait staff, several of which were professional “Pullman” operators, exhibited all the charm of the golden days of the railroad. The menu, simple yet tasteful, stated the available selections and the amount of time needed for preparation, but no prices. Every dish was prepared to order using only the finest and freshest ingredients available, something Ardovino's Desert Crossing still does today.
After Frank’s death in 1973, Ardovino’s Roadside Inn closed its doors. The property was leased out until 1976 and then became vacant for nearly 20 years until Robert Ardovino rediscovered the beauty of the wooden roof trusses, picture windows and tiled floors – and began a long renovation process. He painstakingly searched through old storage sheds, rooms and the basement in search of artifacts and memorabilia to adorn the walls.