During a career that spanned more than half a century, Alfonso Alderete spent much of his time listening to people. He consoled them when they were sad and shared in their joy when they were happy. He was there for people during the good times and the not-so-good times. Alderete was a confidant to many as he worked as the neighborhood bartender.
First Stop: La Fonda
Alderete got his first job as a bartender at La Fonda in 1950 where he worked for two decades. During his time there he got to know all the movie stars, politicians and locals. Alderete provided service with a smile and a friendly ear for people who wanted to talk. Over the next 50 years, he became a Santa Fe institution at the different bars where he worked. When he finally retired in 2003 from the Palace Restaurant everyone who was anyone came to his retirement party.
In 1971 Alderete went to work at the Bull Ring. The restaurant was located across from the capitol. It was the watering hole for the “who’s who” of New Mexico’s power brokers. One day the late Julian Garcia approached him with an offer that he couldn’t refuse. He proposed to Alderete the idea of opening a restaurant using his name that would attract a following of Alderete’s clientele. Like a marquee for a Broadway matinee idol, Alderete saw his dream realized in 1981, when Alfonso’s Restaurant opened in the historic Borrego House on Canyon Road (now home to Geronimo). For the next four years the restaurant prospered as Alderete’s clients feasted on fine food and Alderete’s special drink known as the Caramba. And as always, he was there to listen to those in need of a friendly ear.