SAFFORD — At its annual membership meeting, the Graham County Historical Society will present its Heritage Award to Mary Coronado, and the public is invited to join in celebrating the occasion.
The meeting will be held Saturday, Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. in Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus Ranch House, and will be free to the community. Coronado’s family members will give a presentation, including a video, to honor her life and contributions to the Gila Valley.
Mary Coronado has always enjoyed baking and cooking. Her restaurant career started with the Town House Motel restaurant, whose owner, hearing of Coronado’s cooking skills, asked her to work there. The place seated 38 diners; when the owner closed it down a few months later, Coronado asked to rent it. This was in 1981, she said, and Coronado ran the Town House restaurant for two years.
“I had worked in the food industry, but not in a restaurant, so everything I had to learn I learned firsthand. That was a challenge,” Coronado said.
After operating the Town House restaurant, Coronado moved to Main Street, purchasing the old Star Cafe and opening El Coronado Restaurant, which has served diners from the Valley and beyond for 36 years. El Coronado has become a favorite spot for many locals. “The community has been wonderful throughout,” she said.
Coronado has also made some of the Valley’s best salsa, a multiple prize-winner at Safford’s annual SalsaFest, in which she is a regular participant.
In addition to presenting the Heritage Award, the society will nominate and elect officers and inform members of its fund-raising activities and goals. For more information, contact GCHS President Mike Crockett at 928-428-8215.
David Sowders is a Graham County Historical Society board member.