Portales’ Territorial House to become Italian eatery

Freedom New Mexico: Eric Butler Mark Vigil, owner of Mark’s Restaurant and Catering, takes a look at the second floor of the Territorial House restaurant. A deal was finalized for Vigil to purchase the building, which he plans to turn into an Italian restaurant.

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

After the building’s most recent incarnation ended a few years ago, a menu featuring the old list of entrees continued to be on display in front of the Territorial House restaurant on Second Street.

The place was called the Territorial House Mexican Grill, so the menu had many items with a south-of-the-border flair, along with several steak alternatives.

Now, Portales restaurant owner Mark Vigil intends to make Italian food the featured flavor.

Monday, Vigil said he completed the purchase of the Portales building — which has also been known as “The Roosevelt” restaurant and, previously, as a post office building and an office space for district judges.

Vigil, who owns and operates Mark’s Restaurant and Catering, wouldn’t disclose the purchase price of the building but did say he’s shooting for an opening date in October for his new eatery.

“We closed on it today,” Vigil said. “One of the reasons we even considered it was because of the awesome staff that we have (at Mark’s). We’ve got a really good group of people with lots of talent. We thought there was room to create a couple of corps of great staffs.”

Mark’s Restaurant opened in August 1993 and did well enough that Vigil and his wife, Karyl, were able to move to Florida in 2002 on what he jokingly called “a vacation.” Six-years-plus later, Vigil was back living in Portales.

He said he began thinking about the purchase of the old Territorial House late in 2008.

“It’s an incredibly beautiful restaurant. The ballroom and chandeliers upstairs are phenomenal,” Vigil said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity there for a lot of special events.”

As for the idea of setting up a restaurant with Italian food as the main theme, Vigil thinks it’s been about 15 years since one like that existed in eastern New Mexico.

“We’re still working on the name, but I think it’s set up to do that. And I think this region — Clovis, Portales, Cannon Air Force Base — has some places that might have a pasta dish, but I think it’s such an elegant restaurant and I think an Italian restaurant would go really well,” Vigil said.

Next door, at the Fashion Girl clothing store, Nancy Tivis said any kind of restaurant was bound to have a positive residual effect on her own business.

“Their main meal will be in the evening, and we’ll be closed,” Tivis said. “But, when the other restaurants were there previously, (customers) would come and look in the window and, if they saw something, I’ve had lots of people come in the next day to get something.”