BY MICHAEL SCANLON
For the Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – When longtime restaurant Mesilla Valley kitchen closed its doors in Arroyo Plaza earlier this year, the owner of the retail and commercial strip lost a 30-year tenant but found new opportunities.
“Sometimes when a bad thing happens to you, good things come about,” said Dave Hooker of the restaurant’s closing. “They had been here for 30 years. It ended up being a big deal around town, and all of a sudden, we ended up getting exposure we don’t normally get.
“Even people who came to look at Mesilla Valley Kitchen would see that I had some other spaces that were for lease,” Hooker said. “I probably showed space more in a month that I had showed space in two years.”
In the process, he not only leased the former restaurant space, but also leased a second restaurant for the center.
The former restaurant will be the Las Cruces Massage Envy franchise, which plans to move from a temporary space on Roadrunner Parkway. It moved there from its longtime permanent location at the corner of Walton Boulevard and Divot Avenue, just a couple of blocks from Arroyo Plaza.
Massage Envy has been in business in Las Cruces about 10 years, said Rod Reyes, who owns the franchise along with three other locations in El Paso.
The business will have 23 massage therapists and three estheticians providing a range of skin care services. It is open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
“We’ll have at least 14 rooms, so we can have 14 services every hour,” he said.
Massage Envy is planning to open Sept. 1.
“It’s tough to find such a great location in Las Cruces, and it’s going to be a great place for us,” Reyes said. “We’re very fortunate to be able to take that space. Everybody knows where the old Mesilla Valley Kitchen used to be, so it’ll be really easy to give directions.
Hooker, who once owned the chain of 12 Shorty’s convenience stores, bought the plaza 12 years ago. He began selling the stores in 2005, and still owns one at the corner of N.M. Highway 28 and West University Avenue. Spotted Dog Brewery and Mesilla Valley estate sales lease part of that property.
“We sold some [stores] to Circle K and some to individuals, and we closed some, so we’re down to one now,” he said.
Much has changed at Arroyo Plaza in recent years.
The Verizon store that once occupied a separate building in the parking lot moved to a larger space at the corner of Lohman Avenue and Walton Boulevard, next door to the center. Ride On Sports bicycle shop occupies the former Verizon space.
The east end of the center was demolished to make way for a Chick-fil-A restaurant. That space remains part of Arroyo Plaza.
Hooker also owns commercial centers in Deming and Carlsbad.
“We’ve kind of branched out a little bit geographically,” he said. “I’ve found that with technology, I’ve been able to manage more of these properties using email and text and phone. We do have people in each city who do maintenance, but we just hire contractors to do that.”
Michael Scanlon is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.