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Felix Silva, Sr. tends bar at Silva’s Saloon in 1933.

Felix Silva, Sr. tends bar at Silva’s Saloon in 1933.

Felix Silva, Jr. tends bar at Silva’s Saloon in 2003.

Felix Silva, Jr. tends bar at Silva’s Saloon in 2003.

Silva's Saloon celebrates 70 years

Ty Belknap

On August 15, Silva's Saloon marked seventy years of continuous service. Opened by Felix Silva Sr. the night after prohibition ended in 1933, Silva’s is the oldest saloon operated by a single family in the state of New Mexico. Felix Silva Jr. celebrated his seventy-first birthday on August 21.

Felix says that he grew up at the saloon, and it was there that he learned about the world around him from the stories told by the old-timers on barstools who live on in the photographs that now adorn the walls of the establicihment. Actually, covering the walls and ceilings is seventy years of memorabilia, including licence plates, paintings of nudes by famous and not so famous artists, and lots of hats, "I can tell you about everybody who's got a hat up there," claims Felix.

"I started cleaning the spitoons and outhouses when I was six years old. After all these years, I'm still sweeping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms."

Silva's Saloon originally took over the space formerly occupied by a pharmacy. The floors are wood over two-by-fours resting on the ancient ground just off Camino Real, Route 66, and Main Street Bernalillo. Old photographs show horses tethered out front on a two-lane dirt road.

At the saloon’s seventieth-anniversary party, Felix served a one-hundred-year-old bottle of crème de menthe to regulars before closing early. "I just wanted to be alone and talk to my old man," he explained. "Good thing he didn't answer. Otherwise I might have joined him right there and then."

Felix Jr. found his dad the morning after he passed away at the saloon at age eighty-five (in 1995).

"People ask me how long I'm going to keep working here. I tell them that I'll be here until they find me the same way."

The new smoke ejectors should keep Felix around for quite a few more years. The spitoons were removed a long time ago. Tourists and locals alike enjoy living history along with their favorite beverage at Silva’s Saloon.

 

Condominiums, professional/retail space going up on Main Street, Bernalillo

Vineyard Village is coming to Bernalillo. The “village” will consist of a two-thousand-square-foot professional/retail space, four two-story loft/condominiums and three one-story condos. The project will be built on Main Street next to Camino Real Antiques and Collectibles. With the help of the New Mexico MainStreet Design Assistance Program, the Bernalillo MainStreet Program, David Vandriessche, and Matt Day, the vision of a mixed-use property will soon become a reality.

Fawn Dolan—owner of neighboring Camino Real Antiques—and her husband Tom Hagan, are the owners and project planners, and excited to be erecting something of this scale in Bernalillo.

Fawn said, “The housing options will appeal to a variety of home owners who are looking for options other than apartments, mobile homes, a large lot to maintain, or having to leave Bernalillo entirely. The office spaces will be condominium-ized also, so dentists, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals and entrepreneurs can purchase their work space instead of paying rent for years.”

The common grounds of the new project will be a vineyard planted with grape vines from the Bernalillo area that were producing grapes in the Bernalillo area over 125 years ago—hence the name Vineyard Village.

The projected completion date is January 2004. Condos will be presold, and the retail space will be preleased. Real estate transactions for the property are being handled by Porter Dees of RE/MAX Elite North in Bernalillo.

 

 

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