DEXTER — Amber Donaghe said her family has a history in Dexter.
“My grandma moved here when she was 8 in a covered wagon, she’d seen all the water going around and thought she was in heaven,” she said.
“It was the ditches, she’s figured out what all that water was for when her and her family had to pick cotton,” she added.
Donaghe added that her family has been in the Pecos Valley for a long time and now she and her family have reopened a restaurant that could be considered an institution in this area.
Donaghe and her husband reopened the Little Valley Grill last week.
“We talked to Michelle (Dunnahoo) and she said she had closed it down in June and we started working on to purchase it then,” she said.
Donaghe said she has been coming to Little Valley since she was a kid, that was when the establishment had a pool table up front.
“We used to drive down from Hope on Wednesdays for the Prime Rib Wednesdays,” she said.
“It had too much history and we needed it to get back open,” Donaghe added.
Before the reopening, Donaghe said plenty of work had to be done and some new equipment had to be bought.
She added there were some bugs that were worked out when the restaurant reopened Nov. 6; “Once we got up and going, it was good.”
Donaghe has been leaning on Marty Moody for help in reopening the Dexter establishment.
“When my dad got this place in 1989, it was pretty run down,” he said.
His dad was Joe Moody and Marty said beer was served out of an ice chest before those improvements were made.
“(There was) no kitchen and the bathrooms were terrible. It was a pretty shabby place,” he said.
Moody said the four outside walls and the ceiling have been the only constants in the facility.
“This was an old horse stable before it was a bar,” Moody said.
Moody tells a story of a customer who came in decades ago and left a lasting impression in the ceiling.
“He shot a bullet hole in the ceiling on his 21st birthday and it’s still up there,” he said.
Moody estimates that the patron is now in his early 80s.
Donaghe said Little Valley’s banquet room was a barber shop.
Moody said the bar at Little Valley came from a former Roswell establishment called Vladimir’s.
“The bar top on this was linoleum floor tiles that were worn out,” he said.
Prior to opening up Little Valley, Donaghe said her only restaurant experience was waiting tables and bartending while attending college and she admits there’s been a significant learning curve.
“I’ve learned a lot and Marty’s really helped me out a lot,” she said.
Donaghe said some changes have been made to the menu. She stated that some of the sandwiches have been taken off.
“You go anywhere and get a sandwich these days,” she said. “We left some of the more popular ones on there. We left the burgers on there and we’re probably going to add more burgers on there, because people like to have the varieties of burgers.”
She said the popular Wednesday night prime rib will still be around along with the Saturday barbecue.
Donaghe said Little Valley has been approved for a beer and wine license. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 6.
“It’s going to be Little Valley Grill, I just can’t have the bar in there because it’s a restaurant license not a full liquor license,” she said.
Donaghe added that it will be sometime before she applies for a full liquor license.
Donaghe said Little Valley opens Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. Closing time is 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.