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banquet

This article is the beginning of a series of articles that will present and describe the many rooms in the La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant and Cantina Compound. The oldest room in our historic adobe compound – the Banquet Room – is where we begin our tour.

Immediately off the lobby, adjacent to the Corn Exchange Cantina, and once prominently known as the "Grape Room", this dining room was the original La Posta Cafe proudly established in 1939. With just four tables and a small kitchen (with no running water), Katy Griggs Camuñez would grow La Posta de Mesilla into one of the finest dining establishments in the southwest.

But the history behind this room prior to 1939 is even more notable.

During the 1850's and 1860's, the property was owned by Sam Bean, brother of the infamous Judge Roy Bean.  Sam used it as a Saloon and to house his stagecoach freight business. Shortly thereafter, the Butterfield Stagecoach Line used this property for their headquarters. During the 1870's and 1880's the Banquet Room, then a part of the famous Corn Exchange Hotel, was a very popular upscale restaurant serving several varieties of fresh fish and meats. It was particularly popular to bachelors who would look forward to the Hotel’s proprietor, Augustina Davis, and her Christmas dinner every Christmas Eve.

Many notable personalities of the time dined there including Pablo Melendres (one of the Mesilla Valley founders), Colonel A.J. Fountain and a young man named William Bonney (Billy the Kid). The room was later occupied by the Billy the Kid Museum. Many of the artifacts once displayed in the Banquet room are now displayed one block away in the Gadsden Museum.

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In 1939, this single room was the complete La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant (La Posta Café) for a number of years. Much of how it appears today is the same as when the original Corn Exchange Hotel was located here. You can still view the doors into this room from the Mesilla Plaza along the north and west sides of the building, and from inside the room, you can still look out onto the Plaza. The large painting that hangs on the north wall was painted by a wandering artisan in the 1950’s, in return for room and board.

When Katy opened La Posta in September of 1939, many of the other rooms in the compound were owned by other well known families from Mesilla, including the Gallegos and Lucero families, who ran businesses and /or lived in many of the rooms to the south.

But the Banquet room is unquestionably where La Posta’s humble beginnings were established.  From here, Katy gradually expanded the restaurant to the wandering Hacienda it is today. You can still book this room for a private party or ask to be seated there the next time you visit.  At the very least, simply tour the room and wonder “if these walls could only talk”!

Stay tuned for our next article in the series, when we explore the restaurant lobby and the Corn Exchange Cantina.