Chope’s reopens its take-out restaurant after more than two years without taking food orders


LA MESA — After two years of closing their doors, Chope’s Bar & Café is once again taking food orders.

The Mexican family restaurant in La Mesa has over a century of history in southern Doña Ana County and is a popular stop along Highway 28 for those from New Mexico and Texas.

Restaurant owners Amelia Rivas, Cecilia Yañez and Margarita Martinez – daughters of José “Chope” Benavides and all aged 74 or older – made the decision in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic to remain completely closed, not wanting to put themselves or their staff at risk. While other businesses offered customers the option of picking up takeout, they opted to keep their kitchens closed.

Staff work quickly in the kitchen of Chope's Bar and Café on April 15, 2022.

When more residents were vaccinated, the three sisters said they felt it was safer to reopen, albeit slowly,

In October 2021, the bar part of the business reopened, but without the ability to order food. Now, just over two years after it closed, customers can order takeout from a limited menu. They can also order and eat at the bar, which is in a separate building from the restaurant.

“I’m very excited,” Martinez said. “We needed to open this restaurant. It’s been two and a half years, people want the restaurant. They don’t want anything new, they just want Chope open.

Chope was born in 1909 in the house of Longina Benavides. His son, Chope, and his wife Guadalupe then took over the business and their four daughters, including the couple’s deceased eldest daughter, Adelaida Lucero, worked there. The sisters have seen about three generations of customers come and go, Yañez said.

Welcome friends

People lined up outside the business on Friday, April 15, before Chope officially opened at noon. Once inside, you could hear the phone ringing practically non-stop.

Pascual Evaro ordered burritos from the restaurant on Friday. He said he was from La Mesa and had been eating out his whole life.

Randy Moralez of Vado said his family and the restaurateurs have known each other for many years. He said he worked for Chope for seven years and went to the restaurant’s reopening on Friday to greet the people he considers family.

Owners of Chope's Bar and Café, left to right, Amelia Rivas, Cecilia Yañez and Margarita Martinez stand in front of portraits of their parents, Guadalupe and José

Shellie Haaland said she’s been a customer since she was little and lived in La Mesa. Now she lives in Montana, but lucked out on her trip to southern New Mexico.

“We were here in February 2020,” she said. “Just like COVID was kind of doing its thing, we had taken a trip across the country. And then I came back through New Mexico, which is one of my favorite places, I love it here.

Haaland said she missed Chope on her car ride in early 2020 because it was a day the restaurant was closed. It’s been over two years since she’s had the chance to order sopaipillas. The fried treat is not on the menu currently but will return once all staff return.

The sisters said takeout orders will continue for the next few weeks. The menu currently includes tacos, enchiladas, rellenos, burritos, and several other dishes. Chope’s will fully reopen at a later date. Currently, Chope’s will operate from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. They will be closed on April 17 for Easter.

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Leah Romero is the Trending Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, or @rromero_leah on Twitter.


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