BISBEE — In spite of a pandemic which has turned the lives of people and businesses everywhere upside down, one Bisbee couple has dared to rain on the bug’s parade.
Gretchen Bonaduce, successful author, actress, producer and singer, began her life in Bisbee as the proprietor of the historic Greenway House in the Warren District.
With a lot of help from her friends, she turned the former home with apartments into a quality bed and breakfast destination that was gaining in popularity until COVID-19 hit in 2020 and she had to shut it down. Each apartment is decorated with the trappings of famous rock ‘n’ roll stars like Elvis and the Beatles.
Then, in 2020, she saw a huge Santa Fe home with an aircraft hangar and airstrip access for sale and the wheels started turning. Hacienda del Avion was added to Bisbee’s list of lodging. It was another opportunity to provide an extraordinary experience for visitors.
“So many people want to get out and here, eight to 10 people can gather, watch TV, cook their own meals and enjoy drinks without having to worry about driving,” she said. “This is perfect for that. And, with the airport, people can fly in, park their planes and have a place to stay while enjoying Bisbee. Our town is so special, I just want to share it.”
The sprawling home with an aerial theme throughout has three bedrooms, a striking, large living room with a wall dedicated to antique clocks showing the time of day around the world, a fireplace, large screen TV, ample seating room with leather couches and chairs and an ornate, carved coffee table and a surprising amount of ambient light thanks to the architectural design. She gathered as much memorabilia of the old days of airlines to add to the nostalgia of a bygone era of flight.
Somehow, she weathered the COVID-19 storm for the past two years and has had great success with filling beds at both the Manor and the Hacienda.
Though still suffering some pangs of fear from the relentless pandemic, she and Kevin Starr did not hesitate to take on Le Café Cornucopia, keeping it going for all the locals and travelers whose trips would not be complete without a meal there.
During her time in Bisbee, the former Café Cornucopia became a favorite place for her; her partner, Starr, drummer with the Lords of Altamont and sidecar racer; and her friends to grab lunch. The café has been a highly rated restaurant for years and a popular tourist stop.
When she and Starr discovered it was for sale in 2021, they stepped in.
“We literally were eating there every day. We probably spent as much as there we would for a mortgage,” Bonaduce joked. “We are so happy to keep the existing menu and the staff.”
They serve lunches 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Anna Barrajo, a friend of hers from Spain, came for a visit and suggested they offer “tapas,” Spanish for small plate of food. Tapas offered the opportunity to add a sophisticated level to the cafe’s menu and to showcase the new dishes offered only on Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 8 p.m. On Sundays, the cafe offers brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Barrajo taught Bonaduce’s chefs, both 20 year olds, how to prepare some authentic Spanish cuisine, which has been received with great success. Her son is the sous chef and is quite the baker, she noted.
“It’s such a lovely way to eat,” she says. “A table of four can all order different things and everybody can share and get a taste of the different tapas. It’s a fun way to eat.”
Though the omicron variation has temporarily slowed business down, things are picking up again, she said.
“It’s definitely been a challenge for businesses,” Bonaduce explained. “People who are sick can’t work, so it makes it tough on the servers.”
She stepped in to help staff at one point rather than close the restaurant. One weekend they did have to close due to staff shortages.
Her parents asked her if she was biting off more than she could chew with the cafe when she told them about her new purchase, but she and Starr did not regret the decision to move into the restaurant business. Their bet on Bisbee has been paying off. Who knows what their next venture might be!