ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – From bagging fresh tortillas to plating popular menu items, Frontier RestaurantGeneral Manager Pete Villegas has done it all. “I’ll be bussing tables with the other bussers, I’ll be dishwashing, I’ll be cashiering, cooking,” Villegas says.
In 50 years of service at the Albuquerque staple, he’s developed a favorite menu item, served some notable actors and he’s become somewhat of an icon himself. “I’ve even been at Disneyland one time where somebody recognized me and said ‘I know you’ and I didn’t recognize the person,” Villegas says.
However, what’s even more impressive, “I don’t think he’s missed a day of work in the whole 50 years,” says Owner Larry Rainosek. The 71-year-old says he was a student at the University of New Mexico when he was hired part-time, just four months after the restaurant opened. “I had never worked food service before,” Villegas says.
Rainosek says Villegas played a huge role in the restaurant’s success. “He was so good at what he was doing and is still doing, that this was something that he’s responsible for a lot of that growth,” Rainosek says.
After 50 years he’s trading green chile stew and sweet rolls for some adventure. “One of my kick bucket goals was to get a Harley Davidson, so I got one of those but I haven’t had a chance to ride it,” Villegas said.
Villegas is retiring next month and he says the most rewarding part of his career, are all the people he’s been able to serve. “I particularly am glad to be able to make a difference in people’s lives,” Villegas says.
Villegas isn’t the only longtime employee, the Frontier has 20 other employees that have been on staff for at least 20 years.