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Georgia Maryol

Honored October 2018

Georgia Maryol

A quiet visionary for Santa Fe, a pillar of the Santa Fe community, a great businesswoman with a great heart-those are just some of the praises given to Georgia Maryol.  Born in the Atrisco barrio of Albuquerque,  Georgia is the daughter of Greek immigrants and is the eldest of six children. Her growing up years were spent helping in her parents restaurant, the Central Cafe on Route 66. After a time at UNM, Georgia realized she was less interested in being a student and more interested in doing things in life.The restaurant business was in her blood. She married, had two sons, and after several restaurant jobs in Santa Fe she took a big risk.  She bought a small, unglamorous restaurant that happened to serve exceptional Northern New Mexican food reminiscent of her childhood. She kept the restaurant name Tomasita’s, named after the head cook, Tomisita Lebya.
    Since the birth of Tomasita’s 45 years ago Georgia translated her love, talent, and many hard years of labor into one of the most successful eateries in Santa Fe. The restaurant has grown from 3 in the earliest days to now, 78 plus loyal employees. Some say the only way to get a job at Tomasitas is to inherit it, because employees are there for life.
    As the the owner of Tomasita’s Georgia insisted all staff be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their position…be it manager, cook, busser or dishwasher…everyone including herself worked as a team. The employees and diners at her eateries be they Hispanics, Anglos, Native Americans, immigrants, and now tourists too have always reflected the community.
    A favorite of locals and a destination for tourists, Tomasita’s reputation has spread. It has been featured in publications such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Gourmet Magazine.                    Although Georgia has handed over her restaurants to family members, at 79 she is still actively involved with the day to day operations of the Atrisco Cafe, and keeps her eyes on Tomasita’s as well.  On a Saturday or Sunday morning you will find her in the kitchen, at the steam table, making orders or greeting customers as they come in the restaurant. She still sets the tone at Tomasita’s and the Atrisco Cafe.
    Dedicated to promoting classic Northern NM cuisine Georgia has always supported and trained many staff who went on to establish their own successful restaurants. Family members own Tia Sophias, named after her mother, and Atriscos named after the barrio where she grew up.
    As a political activist, Georgia spearheaded a movement to change the way the state legislature approved liquor licenses for restaurants, which helped restaurant owners across the state.
    Always thinking of others, and being ahead of the curve Georgia built  a special wheel chair ramp for customers with disabilities  before it was required by the American Disabilities Act. Being environmentally conscious, she was the first restaurant to recycle before the city provided collection trucks. After her son George took over the business, he installed photovoltaic solar panels in the restaurant’s parking lot and included a charging station for electric vehicles.
    Despite these and other great successes, Georgia has remained modest, grounded, and always generous. There is no public fanfare, no sitting on prestigious boards; she simply makes giving back to people and to the community her priority.
    Georgia’s broad influence reaches beyond the restaurant business. A collector and patron of the arts, Georgia displays local artists’ works in her restaurant, and provides a table under the portal for Native Americans to sell their jewelry to tourists.
    Georgia helped organize and raise money for the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and Pavillon. For eight years in the past, she donated a day’s restaurant’s proceeds to the Special Olympics. She catered a birthday lunch when local hero, Leroy Petry,  was honored at the state capital. She fund raises for Youth Shelters and Family services which helps homeless youth. Georgia has been a moving force at the state level to recognize and remember the immigrants all over the world including Greeks and Italians, from Dawson, NM, who lost their lives in in the second worst mine disaster in US history.
    And on a very personal level, Georgia is equally kind…like taking a  basket of hot sophillas to the garbage collection crew; taking a friend dying of aids to New Orleans, to grant him his last wish; loaning her car to a tourist/stranger whose car broke down in the restaurant parking lot and needed to get to the airport; offering her guest house to an employee down on her luck; and on and on….she is there for anyone in need.
    Georgia has strengthened our community’s economy and through her kind giving spirit has helped improve the lives of innumerable Santa Feans.Her generosity and loving knows no bounds  There is no expectation of ever being repaid. Georgia never takes credit for her good deeds.  She just does them.

 

Story by Nancy Dahl

Photo © 2018 by Esha Chiocchio