After working on the recent $5 million restoration of the nearly 125-year-old Hotel Castaneda in Las Vegas, NM, Carlos Lopez and Dennis Lucero caught the bug – the historic revitalization bug.
So when the former Fred Harvey Hotel reopened after a 70-year closure in 2019, Lopez and Lucero acted. Lopez, owner of Contractors Supply, and Lucero, electrician and owner of Electric Horseman, bought the nearby vacant M&M Auto Supply after the facade of the nearly 100-year-old building collapsed. Initially, they had no immediate plans for the Grand Avenue structure, a former tire retailer, bowling alley, and auto parts store.
Lopez and Lucero then saw the possibilities of the building.
“We immediately began sanitizing and cleaning up debris and old auto parts with the intention of returning them. We bought it as an investment,” Lopez said. “Gradually we discussed the need for a bar and a large hall for weddings.”
In 2020, they purchased the neighboring property, the former Maryann’s Famous Burrito Kitchen.
After working on the 10,000 square foot development for 2½ years, Lopez and his wife, Patricia, and Lucero and his wife, Annette, opened Buffalo Hall & Cowboy Cafe BBQ last week. Open Thursday through Saturday, the Cowboy Cafe sells its smoked barbecue dishes daily on site.
“It’s exciting,” said Patricia Lopez, who also works at the library at New Mexico Highlands University. “We had a good turnout and there is excitement all over town. People are happy with the atmosphere. »
“We keep increasing the food and it keeps selling out,” her husband added.
In a few weeks, they expect to get their liquor license for a full-service bar that will open on Sundays. The owners plan to add pool tables, a corn hole, shuffleboard and darts, and offer dining on the patio. And by June, Buffalo Hall will begin hosting weddings and other celebrations in the event center for 500 to 600 people.
“It’s a niche in Vegas that will give residents something to do,” Carlos Lopez said.
“There was a lot of interest in the construction before we opened,” added Dennis Lucero.
During construction, workers recycled some of the building materials, including bricks to build columns and the bar, and wood to make tables. For natural light, they added a skylight from Los Ninos Elementary School on Legion Drive in Las Vegas.
“We used the existing floors, which gives a real industrial feeling,” said Carlos Lopez.
The menu includes all types of smoked meats, including beef raised by the two couples. The main component of the smoker was the original Hotel Castaneda vapor bladder tank. Carlos Lopez smokes the meats and trains another person.
The idea for the name, Buffalo Hall and front facade, came from a hotel built in 1852 on the Las Vegas Plaza where the city’s police station is located.
“We wanted to emulate the historical flavor,” said Carlos Lopez. “When we built the facade, everyone initially thought it was a movie prop for the cinema in the area.”
The Lopezes and Luceros are pleased with the response to their new venture and the decision to purchase the old auto supply store.
“Obviously the price was right for the building,” said Annette Lucero. “We [initially] didn’t know what we wanted to do with it.
“There’s been a lot of energy behind it, and the community has been very supportive,” Carlos Lopez said.