BENSON — One of Benson’s landmarks has been demolished.
Galleano’s Italian Restaurant was reduced to rubble on Monday to make way for a new Jack in the Box.
Located on the southwest corner of Fourth and Ocotillo Streets, this once-popular family restaurant started out as Hank’s Coffee Shop, built in 1960 by the late Hank Fenn.
“My brother ran a successful restaurant with good food and a varied menu,” said Don Fenn, the youngest sibling of a family of six brothers and seven sisters.
Sometime around 1976, Hank sold the restaurant to Trudy and Cecil Kempton, who owned and operated it for a few years.
After the Kemptons, the Macias family purchased the restaurant, which they ran for 20 years before selling it to the Galleanos in 1999.
“We owned Galleano’s Italian Restaurant for 10 years, from 1999 to 2009, then sold it to Michael Palatianof,” Alice Galleano said. “From 2013 to 1017 we leased the restaurant from Michael, then closed the business in 2017 and the restaurant was never reopened.”
Galleano said it saddens her to see the building demolished to rubble, especially when she remembers all the hard work, laughter and good times that went into running the restaurant.
“I have some wonderful memories of the restaurant, and made a lot of friends there,” she said. “The building’s demolition ends a 60-year Benson landmark, and it makes me sad.”
Don Fenn, who worked for his brother’s establishment for a few months in 1967, also shared memories of the place he knew as Hank’s Coffee Shop.
“My brother had a Hank’s Coffee Shop sign attached to a big Hereford cow mounted on a pole in front of the restaurant,” he said. “When the Macias family took ownership of the restaurant, I bought the Hereford from them.”
Fenn sold the sign in an auction sometime in 2003, and believes it’s in Bisbee somewhere.
Hank’s Coffee Shop served breakfast, lunch and dinner, and along with its great steaks and selection of comfort food, the restaurant featured homemade pies, a favorite among locals.
“One of the things that stands out in my mind is that you could get a big hamburger and an order of fries for $1.75 back then,” Fenn said.
The Fenns were raised on a family farm along Pomerene Road.
“My father created a brand that he used for his cattle,” recalled Fenn. “Hank took my dad’s brand and embedded it in the floor of his cafe at the entrance where you could see it when you walked in the front door.”
When Fenn learned the building was going to be demolished, he asked Kinne Demolition & Earthmoving Company if they could salvage the piece of concrete bearing the family brand, which the company agreed to do.
“It was important to me because it’s part of our family history and Hank’s restaurant,” he said.
A number of community members shared memories of the 60-year-old building and what it meant to them.
“My family, including my late husband, Rudy Casillas, loved eating there,” said Judy Lee, who runs the Benson Museum. “I remember eating at Hank’s Coffee Shop when I was young, and I used to take my kids there all the time.
“After it became Galleano’s, we held many, many business dinners there.”
Mayor Joe Konrad had this to say about Galleno’s:
“I loved their food. Our union negotiating committee met there for breakfast and strategy meetings before we would go meet with the company. Lots of stories were told around those tables.
“If only the walls could have talked … ”