In anticipation of the opening of the Orpheum Community Hub, Homewise’s new Homeownership Center and collaborative community/art space, we’re having a great time getting to know our new neighbors! And what better way to start exploring the neighborhood than with some of the tastiest burgers in the town?
The original Red Ball Café has been an institution in Albuquerque since 1922 and has seen three different incarnations over the course of its history. Leticia Gutierrez is the most current owner of the café and has only been in business since September. Leticia was born and raised in Barelas and currently lives there as well. She worked at the Red Ball Café in the late 1990’s as a cook but then made a career change and worked in the HVAC industry for many years.
One day in 2018 her son-in-law happened to pass by the building and noticed that there was a “for lease” sign and told Leticia about it. At the time she was going to school for criminology and was not working so she started doing research, which lead to getting a loan, buying equipment, and before she knew it, she was the proprietor of the historic Red Ball Café!
When asked what her favorite part of owning the Red Ball is she says, “The history behind the business and the building itself. It brings character and value to the area.” The business is 96 years old and still in the original location. Let’s not forget the signature menu item, the Original Wimpy Burger, which is small in size but big on flavor and topped with a “special” red chile sauce. It’s important to know that the Red Ball Café has a patent on the Wimpy Burger so you will not be able to find it anywhere else!
Leticia is slowly but surely settling in to the business and right now her biggest challenge is just to get people in the door. It’s solely family operated but she’s hoping to gain enough business eventually to hire people from the community. She loves Barelas and would like to see more small businesses locate there with the hope of growth in the area.
Stop in to try one of the signature Wimpy Burgers or try one of their delicious green chile cheeseburgers! Look for the Red Ball Café on Facebook or on Instagram: @red_ball_cafe2018
“Vecinos” is a Homewise blog series dedicated to getting to know the neighborhood businesses and organizations in the Barelas neighborhood and surrounding our Homeownership Center and Orpheum Community Hub.