FORT LUPTON — The iconic restaurant inside the historic mill on Seventh Street closed Sept. 20 after more than a quarter century in business.
Owner and head chef Robert Vigil thanked his many loyal customers and the city of Fort Lupton for the many happy memories.
Vigil, a Colorado native from Brush, opened the restaurant with his wife, Mary, in 1985 — 10 years after the mill closed.
“We came in and it was kind of a hard decision to take what was here and make it into a restaurant. But I just knew it would be something different than what was in the area,” Vigil said. “The restaurant has been very successful. We’ve had a lot of family and relatives work here.”
For most of its operation, the restaurant was known as La Familia de Don Roberto, or La Familia for short.
In 2011, Vigil sold the business to a new family who tried to continue the tradition at the Mexican restaurant, including the popular buffet.
But without Don Roberto, the business struggled, and Vigil returned from retirement to run the restaurant again in 2012.
This time, in addition to the Mexican cuisine, Vigil offered another of his culinary specialties: Ribs.
The reborn restaurant was re-christened Wings and More at the Mill, but Vigil’s focus remained on good food made from scratch.
Vigil spurned canned ingredients, and each component of his recipes was cooked and prepared in-house.
“We have our own family recipes, and we like to treat our customers right, the way we like to be treated,” Vigil said. “We make our own food from scratch. We don’t buy it from the can. We make our own chili, or own enchilada sauce, our rice, our beans, homemade chili relleno, our own sopapillas — anything that can possibly be made by hand, or from scratch, we make.”
Vigil got the taste for cooking when he was nine-years-old cooking in his mother’s kitchen, but he didn’t pursue this calling at first.
In the 1960s and 70s, Vigil ran a beauty shop, but he switched to running a restaurant to spend more time with his family.
And although the hours were long and the vacations were few, Vigil was able to spend time with his family while working; he estimates that 18 to 20 family members have worked with him at some point during the time the restaurant was open.
Time with his family will now be in greater supply, and the signs that Vigil was thinking about retirement were already present during the restaurant’s 25th anniversary in 2010.
“Well, I hope to retire soon, but I don’t know when,” Vigil said at the time. “Someone could turn this place into a great steakhouse, or a brewery, or an Italian restaurant,” Robert said. “But I’ll tell you this, I don’t plan to be here when I’m 80, that’s for sure.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.