PeeWee managed a convenience store for the Thrifty Marketing Corporation in Toh-la-kai, NM. For quite some time after taking this job she was the only employee. She would work during the hours of operation which were 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. She managed to operate the store, reconcile the paperwork each day, make deposits, order supplies, manage a home, raise children, and make friends along the way.
In order to supplement her income, she had an idea. The customers at the store did not aways buy the bananas before they were over-ripe. PeeWee decided to use them rather than throw them away. Her idea was to turn those bananas into loaves of bread and sell them. PeeWee started her business in the kitchen of her home in Toh-la-kai, NM. The business was called the “Sideline Bakery”. It was anything but that. It was a mainstream part of life.
PeeWee’s first sales were made through the store at Toh-la-kai. Increased interest and sales forced a push for deliveries to include many other stores and businesses on the reservation. This distribution took pies and bread to places such as Twin Lakes, Tohatchi, Shiprock, Crownpoint, Coyote Canyon, Window Rock, Ft. Defiance, Ganado, Many Farms, Kinlichee, Round Rock, Hubbell’s Trading Post, Grants, and in the Gallup Safeway Store.
Soon after she started her “delivery route” she added a variety of fruit pies. This also added more hours of work behind the scenes. She has never been afraid of hard work. This became even more evident as time went by, since most of this baking took place after the store closed at night. There were a lot of late nights spent wrapping and labeling the baked goods and sorting them for delivery. Not to mention the clean-up that followed.
The bakery business was successful to the point that she was searching for over-ripe bananas at all the local supermarkets. Sometimes she would have to buy ripe bananas and keep them till they were perfect for banana bread. She went from a small stand mixer to a gigantic, commercial mixer. She began baking on two racks in her standard kitchen oven and eventually had to purchase a commercial pizza oven to help with the baking.
PeeWee’s business moved her to Gallup in 1987. She opened her first restaurant on the corner of Boardman Drive and Historic 66 and named it “PeeWee’s Place”. It was here that she became very well-known for her delicious plate-size cinnamon rolls. Customers would frequent her restaurant to indulge in this wonderful treat. There were many who could eat an entire cinnamon roll without sharing! She is now famous for her cinnamon rolls. Yes, she will still makes them to fill the plate; however, she usually makes them a more manageable size that fits on a saucer. They are baked fresh daily and her grandchildren are crazy for them.
PeeWee’s business has taken her to other locations in and around Gallup. These various locations were based on the needs of the business at that time. She had “The Chocolate Shop” on Coal Ave, “PeeWee’s Place” at the Rio West Mall, “PeeWee’s Kampus Kitchen” at the UNM-Gallup Campus, and PeeWee’s Kountry Kitchen” at Ft. Wingate, “PeeWee’s Kitchen”, in the Cedar Hills Plaza on South 2nd St., is where she “lives” now.
PeeWee has spent over 30 years, and a lot of hard work (“elbow grease” as it’s known in the family), growing her business into what it is today. She has been a “hands-on” cook since the beginning. You can always find her in the kitchen. She is very humble and doesn’t want anyone to make a “fuss” over her. She thanks God First and for everything. He blessed her with her abilities and success. She knows that He has made all things possible.
She is also very grateful to those of you who have been and continue to be her regular customers at her restaurant. Your patronage allows her to continue doing what she loves.
I would like to personally invite you to PeeWee’s Kitchen. If you were there today, that’s great! If you’ve never eaten in her restaurant, or if it’s been a while since you’ve been by, she would like to see you soon. PeeWee always serves quality, home-style food. You will never walk away hungry. She will make sure you have a great dining experience in a family-friendly atmosphere. Her restaurant is bright and clean and the food is delicious and reasonable.
Enjoy PeeWee’s kitchen today. PeeWee will treat you as if you were family, joining her for a meal in her home. I know, I’m her daughter, and I want to make a “fuss” over her.
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