Everything old is new again, as a 72-year-old restaurant in historic downtown Globe recently celebrated its grand re-opening.
No, La Casita Cafe hadn’t been closed, but the torch had been passed to a new generation, and the family thought that was something worth celebrating.
Adrianne “Annie” Villalobos and her Aunt Liz Villalobos became the restaurant’s new owners after Cuca Villalobos, 85 years young, decided to hand it over to her daughter and granddaughter.
“When I was a kid, I told my dad (Greg) that I was going to own a restaurant here,” Annie explained.
But her father hoped that she would take a different path, and for a time, she did.
After graduating from Globe High School in 2005, Annie worked as a dental assistant and a medical assistant. Unfortunately, Greg Villalobos passed away in 2014.
“He would have been the next owner with his sister, my Aunt Liz,” Annie said. “I have the honor of being the next in line.”
Annie is well aware that she is a fourth generation owner, not third generation like her Aunt Liz and her father, Greg.
“That has given me the drive to continue doing this for him,” she said.
Like many of her relatives, Annie grew up working at the restaurant. She and her twin sister began working at La Casita Cafe at the age of 12.
Annie said she is grateful that her parents made her work because “when you start young, you appreciate everything you have now.”
Liz began working at the restaurant busing tables at age 11 or 12.
“She worked for my Nana for years,” Annie said.
A source of pride for Annie is that her great-grandmother came from Mexico and started something that has now “branched out” to nearly 20 family restaurants, many of which are still in existence.
In 1947, Salustia Reynoso bought the 1905 building that is the home of La Casita Cafe.
Annie treasures a vintage family photo of the four women who started everything: Reynoso, Pilar Esparza, Josephine Picazo and Belia Rodriguez.
She points out that while it’s mostly men who own the family business now, it was the women who made it happen.
“The men branched out, but they had strong women behind them,” said Liz. “The women had the recipes—they were their recipes.”
Annie points out that even though they are still her great grandma’s recipes, “everyone cooks different.”
“If I gave you a recipe, you and I would each cook it differently,” she said. “Everyone puts their own little spin on things.”
Liz says that of the seven siblings in her family, five went into the business.
“We’ve kept the menu in check,” she said. “You have to have a love for cooking.”
On the subject of cooking, Liz said that she ended up doing so after her grandmother observed her waiting on tables and, apparently, didn’t like what she saw.
Liz speculates that as a teenager, she may not have been so great with the customers at the time.
“My grandmother grabbed me and said, ‘Let me teach you how to cook.’”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Speaking of history, Josie Ramos, who attended the July 22 grand re-opening, has memories of her own. “We all worked when we were little—everybody worked,” she said.
At the age of 9, Ramos moved to La Casita Cafe, living upstairs. Her most favorite memory is of the holidays spent at the restaurant.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas was always here,” Ramos said.
Family members would attend the Copper Kettle football game on Thanksgiving and then gather at La Casita.
There would be about 35 of them and all the tables would be pushed together, she said.
“If there was a homeless person passing by, they could come in, too,” Ramos said.
“We were a very close-knit family.”
As an adult, Ramos ran La Casita with Cuca until she retired, which was 27 years ago.
While none of her children went into the business, Ramos had one brother who owned the restaurant in San Manuel and another brother who owned Chalo’s in Globe.
“My family continues to carry on the legacy,” Annie said.
On July 22, surrounded by friends and family, including the family’s fifth generation, Liz cut the ribbon at La Casita Cafe and said, “I want to thank Nana Salustia and Aunt Josephine. This restaurant is our gift from them.”
Salustia Reynoso’s Legacy of Restaurants:
Guayo’s El Rey, 1938, now owned by Greg and Dorine Esparza, started by Josephine Pacazo in 1938. Pacazo later passed it onto her sister Pilar and Miguel Esparza.
La Casita Cafe, 1947, now owned by Liz and Annie Villalobos, opened by Salustia Reynoso. Cuca Villalobos owned it from 1993 to 2019, before passing it onto Liz and Annie.
Los Compadres, started in 1958, no longer in operation.
Chalo’s Casa de Reynoso, 1969, owned by Chalo and Juanita Reynoso and managed by son Johnny.
Guayo’s on the Trail, 1970, owned by Eddie and Karen Esparza.
La Casita Cafe in Mammoth, 1970, owned by Mary Reynoso.
Los Amigos, from 1970-80 and then Abbey’s Restaurant from 1981-82, owned by Abigail and Benny Perez.
Irene’s Real Mexican Food, 1980, owned by Rita Martin.
Casa Reynoso, 1984, owned by Tony and Tita Reynoso, managed by daughter Joanne.
La Casita Cafe in Show Low, 1985, owned by Ernie and Margie Villalobos, managed by son Ernie.
Los Compadres, opened in 1985, no longer in operation.
La Casita East, 1995, owned by Eddie and Debra Villalobos.
Xavier’s Casa Reynoso, 1997, owned by Xavier and Belinda Reynoso.
La Casita Cafe in Thatcher, 1998, owned by Ray and Lorraine Villalobos.
Casa Reynoso in Chandler, opened in 2001, now a food truck owned by Tobert Reynoso.
La Casita in San Manuel, 2001, owned by Pete and Maria Reynoso.
Chalo’s in Miami, started in 2007, no longer in operation.
XJ’s Casa Reynoso, 2018, owned by Xavier Reynoso, Jr.
J & R’s El Rey, date unknown, owned by Junior and Roberta Reynoso.
Contributed by Adrianne “Annie” Villalobos.
Award winning journalist with over 18 years experience in covering local news and issues affecting rural communities. Married 37 years, my life has taken me from Phoenix to Willcox to Globe. My husband and I are both overjoyed to find ourselves in Globe-Miami, with its rich history and sense of community. This is truly home.