On December 15, 1972 the lives of June and Willie Ortiz, two Santa Feans without any experience in the restaurant industry, would change forever. The belief that bringing their community a fine dining experience and that those who came would embrace their love of Native New Mexican food was what fueled their passion. Using Willie’s pension they leased the Dominican Convent at 416 Agua Fria, with 140 seats in seven dining rooms. There were lace tablecloths and red napkins on the tables and historical paintings on the walls.
June was in charge of the front of the house and Willie, a World War II Counter Intelligence vet, handled the back of the house/kitchen staff. Over time their daughter and son-in-law, Joy and Chuck, along with grandchildren, Kevin, Dawn and Chris, became part of the burgeoning family business. As La Tertulia’s popularity grew, Willie and June built a “Sala” so their patrons would have a place to either sit and wait for their dining table or relax after dining. The Sala would develop its own rich history and, in 1976, June and Willie were honored for providing the space with a plaque from the Old Santa Fe Association.
We’re excited to share a reimagining of this family treasure with you, and look forward to creating new traditions in the Tulsa community.