Beloved Canyon Road restaurant for sale
EL FAROL RESTAURANT & CANTINA IS ON THE MARKET. One of Santa Fe’s best-known restaurants and nightspots, El Farol dates back to 1968. But the history of a neighborhood eatery at this location goes back long before that.
Tradition has it that the building at 808 Canyon Road began life as a 19th-century Vigil-family establishment called the Cantina del Cañon. El Farol (which means “warmth” and “light”) was started by Vint Blackburn and Bob Young in 1968. David Salazar bought it from them in the mid1980s.
Salazar describes El Farol as “a perfect place for both locals and tourists to gather with friends and family.” The menu specialty is tapas, small portions of Spanish foods that are served in sharable groupings. Music and art have always been part of the eatery’s business formula.
Salazar grew up in the village of Hernandez, north of Española. “I was baptized in the church that Ansel Adams photographed,” he said in a recent interview at El Farol. That’s probably Adams’ most famous picture, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, made in 1941.
Salazar went to Garden City Community College in Kansas to play football, then earned his business degree at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He grew up in the business realm. “My father had a general store in Hernandez and we delivered groceries all the way up to Colorado and we delivered gasoline to the stations. We used to buy from Gross Kelly and Charles Ilfeld.”
In the late 1970s, Salazar helped write speeches for farm labor leader and civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez for a time. Then he met U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland and ended up in Washington, D.C., where he worked on the Carter Administration team that was developing rural policy.
In 1985, he purchased El Farol, which seats about 250 in good weather and about half of that when closed-up warm in the winter. His patrons over the years have included former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall; actors Robert Redford, Liam Neeson, and Robert Englund; and singers Willie Nelson, John Denver, Bonnie Raitt, and Robert Plant. “Joan Baez sang here more than once. She was a patron. She came to appear at the Lensic and she played for us,” Salazar said.
“We’ve had music seven days a week for 29 or 30 years. That’s a lot of music. Bon Jovi played here. He came for the wrap party they had here for Young Guns II. And David Byrne played.
“One of our favorites here was Butch Crouch, just about the best performer I’ve ever seen. David Byrne was here one night and he loved what Butch and the group were doing. He talked to them and he started singing. I didn’t know who he was and he had kind of a weird voice, but it took only 20 seconds to realize there was something to him that was deep. They played all night.”
El Farol’s relationship with art dates back at least to the mid-1940s, when Alfred Morang hung his art in the bar. The restaurant’s living artists today include Roland Van Loon, Stan Natchez, and Sergio Moyano. Salazar has “Galeria El Farol” in an adjacent space. “We’re showing art that complements the restaurant, including paintings of flamenco dancers.”
He said the property and the business are for sale together. He didn’t seem very sad about the prospect of selling. “After 31 years? No, I’m not sad,” he said.
What’s next for David Salazar? “I’m working on a startup business with some people. It will start in Santa Fe but it will be national.”
El Farol is listed for $2.6 million by Paul Duran, Keller Williams Realty Santa Fe.
David Salazar on the front porch