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.
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, with the help of his sister, Marina, began a long renovation process.
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.
In 1997, the Ardovino's Desert Crossing opened its doors once again as a full service banquet facility – providing guests with the perfect setting for an outdoor or indoor wedding, birthday party or other special occasion. The Mecca Lounge and Restaurant have been in operation since November 2002; and the renovations continue, with the expansion of the restaurant and menu and plans for an RV Park and Roadside Inn using renovated vintage travel trailers. #ADCcelebrates20
Today, Ardovino's Desert Crossing is an homage to Uncle Frank. Found memorability and artifacts from years past adorn the walls. Selections of some of the area's finest wines fill the cellar. Forgotten spaces throughout the property are now fertile gardens.
Two generations later, Robert and Marina Ardovino have cultivated Uncle Frank's fine-dining ideals into something extraordinary, something exclusively Ardovino and something Uncle Frank would be quite proud of.
Truly, there's no other place like Ardovino's Desert Crossing.