In the San Luis Valley, Colorado, a mission behind “mountainous” food | Craving Colorado | Way of life


STRONG GARLAND Driving the US 160 through the dusty outposts of the San Luis Valley, everyone walks past the building.

The adobe building on the corner. The walls with colorful murals celebrating the region’s Spanish and Catholic influences. The bright yellow sign with red letters: “All-Gon”. And the mantra: “All-Gon ‘Cuz It’s All Good!”

The name of the restaurant is a play on the name of the owner.

“Everyone walks by here,” says Ken Gonzales, “but nobody knows what’s going on here until they stop. “

A green chili cheese burger at All-Gon Restaurant and Pizzeria in Fort Garland.

What they will find is a wooden interior much like in the 50s and 60s. Now the bar offers fresh fudge, not beer. Now the ground is for eating – for eating every slice of this “mountainous” pizza – not for dancing.

Gonzales was a child on those festive days. In 1960, his father built the grocery store across the street. It’s her father in the picture frame on the wall. This is Gonzales’ mother. She was cooking something with anything and everything brought in from the store, the inventory about to expire.

In a small town largely fueled by rice, beans, tortillas and chili, “we had such a variety,” Gonzales remembers from his childhood. “We tried everything. All.”

Now his clients are doing it.

It’s far from a simple pizza at All-Gon.

Hamburgers ? To verify. Other hot and tender sandwiches? To verify. Mexican? To verify. Pasta ? Fried chicken? Seafood? Check, check, check.


The Meatball Sub is a hot sammy at All-Gon Restaurant in the San Luis Valley. Photo courtesy of All-Gon Restaurant

And it’s not just sweet fudge. Another box contains the cakes and pies of the day, all homemade. The slices are as generous as the main dishes.

“People say, ‘You have so much stuff that just can’t be great,” says Lisa Gonzales, Ken’s wife and co-boss. “Well, it must be God. Because it’s true, you alone cannot do everything right.

That’s right, food identity can be hard to pin down here. But the reviews are rave in the guest book sitting on a platform, worthy of a preacher. (The old dance floor was indeed used for worship.)

“Always the best food!” wrote a regular, local or returning traveler. Another wrote: “Beautiful people! “

Maybe it’s the people, not the food, that make All-Gon what he is. The real identity? It goes back to God, say the Gonzales.

The two natives of the valley, Ken and Lisa, met at church. They have been married for 32 years. He worked in construction, she delivered the mail. They never thought they would go into the restaurant business. Then this building became available.

They opened in 2006, driven by a simple truth: “We love to eat,” Ken says.

The reality was harsh. Business reality was tough – tough for any novice restaurateur, let alone one starting out in one of the most economically depressed places in their state.

Money wasn’t the only hard part in All-Gon.

“People are tough,” Lisa says.

“Very difficult,” Ken says.

He would be there, going from the steamy kitchen to the dining room to confront a rude and angry customer. It wasn’t him, he knew that. The case changed him.

“The first 10 years we were open on Sundays,” says Ken, “and it didn’t work. I was becoming a moaner and really didn’t care about my Christian self. “


Pizza is big at All-Gon Restaurant in the San Luis Valley. Photo courtesy of All-Gon Restaurant

He and Lisa prayed for balance. Prayed for an answer.

“We decided that the business would become God’s business,” says Ken.

They would open the dining hall to congregations that needed a place. The nearby abandoned church that Ken’s grandfather helped build had fallen into disrepair, and they would use All-Gon’s money to restore and occupy it. They counted on two hands the number of people who came to worship, and it was more than enough.

They decided that 10% of daily gross income would go towards good deeds. Some would go to poor families in Mexico. Some will go to an employee’s education fund. Some would go towards the funeral expenses of any neighbor in need.

Three times a week, Ken and Lisa began delivering meals to eight homes. It became 24. That 10% became 20%, they say.

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Owners Ken and Lisa Gonzales give Bibles to All-Gon Restaurant and Pizzeria in Fort Garland, Colorado (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

“We see this as our field of mission,” says Lisa.

And that, they say, made everything useful. They don’t feel the burdens and frustrations that plagued them at the start of the business.

Yet the work is still so hard. With the same staffing issues that the industry as a whole faces, the last few days and nights have been longer for Ken and Lisa.

But now they have relief in sight.

Now they are closed on Sundays.

On the menu

The Sierra Madre, or the mother of all pizzas, offers all the homemade toppings. Other “mountainous” pies range from $ 8 to $ 18. One is the little four-meat bear. Buck Mountain is the all-vegetarian counterpart. Cat Mountain combines pineapple, ham and green pepper.

Green chili is also popularly smothered on burgers, made with locally ground lean beef. The fondue galette ($ 11) is a favorite, with sautéed onions and Swiss between the rye.

The “mountainous” titles also have a long list of sandwiches ($ 9) – suitable for piles of meat on chopsticks. There is the Trinchera Club (turkey, ham, roast beef, cheese and ranch); Mont Blanca Bleu (chicken, ham, mushrooms, mozzarella and Alfredo); the Italian-themed Culebra and Philly-themed Mount Princeton.

Homemade sauces are poured over spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccini Alfredo and chicken parmesan, among other pastas ($ 8 to $ 14). Chicken Fried Chicken or Chicken Fried Steak ($ ​​13) are more hearty options, served with corn and mashed potatoes and gravy.

Mom’s enchiladas ($ 11) are popular on the Mexican side. Try them with chili rellano and tamales on the Fiesta plate ($ 15).

Desserts vary, but the must-haves are the chocolate cake (chocolate covered cake and nut frosting) and the hummingbird cake (vanilla-cinnamon cake with nuts, bananas and pineapple, topped with cream cheese frosting) .

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