It was 1983, and Loretta Muller was making some tasty tacos. She was also making tasty burritos and more.
The problem? She was just getting started and was selling her food not necessarily in compliance with local laws and regulations.
You see, she was cooking up food in her own home and selling from there.
“Word got around, I got popular,” Loretta told me with a twinkle in her eye. “But then, someone ratted me out. The law shut me down!” she said, laughing.
“What happened then?” I asked her, invested in her story.
“I got 18 months probation, and they said if I didn’t do it again, I’d be okay.”
This was my introduction to Loretta Muller, owner and founder of Loretta’s Burrito Hut, at 321 E. Route 66 Blvd, in Tucucmcari, New Mexico.
Welcome Home to Loretta’s.
After her run in with the law, Loretta told me, “Life happened,’ and she moved on from the Burrito business.
In 1991, she opened a restaurant that, in her own words, “didn’t last very long, but it was a good learning experience.”
Samatha, Loretta’s Burrito Hut.
The Law and a Real Kitchen
Loretta has an easy going nature to her, and it was clear she enjoyed talking about her journey.
“In 2005, I wanted to try again so I started selling from my Dad’s house. Just like last time, I got popular. Then I got ratted out again by someone, just like last time.”
After getting busted, Loretta realized she needed to go legit.
She found a professional kitchen at the local VFW that she started renting in 2006, and sold that way for five years before she found and ran a food truck.
She worked out a daily rental rate with the owner, she was legal, but it still wasn’t enough. She wanted her own restaurant.
The 2020 Journey
After slinging burritos from her home, her Dad’s kitchen, a VFW kitchen and a food truck, Loretta finally found a building that was perfect for her restaurant in September of 2020.
However, right after installing a new oven hood a month later in October, they had a fire. There was a leak and it caused a short, which then caused a fire.
Loretta’s new restaurant was closed until May of 2021 and has been open ever since!
Loretta is hopeful for the future, and she is hiring right now. “We don’t have enough people working here yet,” Loretta said. “My granddaughter works here, but is going to the Wind Academy at Mesalands (North American Wind Research and Training Center) and she graduates before too long.”
Outside of needing more help, Loretta loves Tucucmcari and loves her home state of New Mexico.
“I plan to keep this restaurant open long term,” she told me, smiling again. “I want to leave this for my family, so they can enjoy it as much as I have, and have some security.”
Loretta said she buys ads on the radio and billboards on Route 66. “They all work,” she said. “Everyone tells me they heard my ad or saw a billboard, plus there’s my reputation.”
Naturally, I had to ask. “What’s your rep?” I said, now smiling as well.
“That Loretta’s Burrito Hut has the best burritos in New Mexico!”
I wasn’t about to argue with her.