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New Mexico Small Business Development Center
Building New Mexico's Economy One Business At A Time

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NMSU-Grants Small Business Development Center

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The Small Business Development Center at NMSU Grants, New Mexico is your sounding board, your safety net, your colleague and your consultant. Counselors at the SBDC assist in pre- and post-venture planning with no-charge confidential one-on-one consulting, low cost training in a variety of subjects, and are able to assist your company in networking with other local companies to achieve your goals. Contact Clemente Sanchez, Director or Gerrie Ortiz, Business Advisor @ 505-287-8221

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2013 Business Success Client

La Tinaja Restaurant-Ira Vandever
La Tinaja Restaurant-Ira Vandever
La Tinaja, “The Watering Hole”, Nourishes the Community

La Tinaja Restaurant and Trading Post was reinvented and opened for business by Ira Vandever just over a year ago. A Navajo restaurant, community center and one-time drinking haunt of Billy the Kid, it is located south of Grants, NM on the Trail of the Ancients between the Ice Caves and El Morro National Monument. At La Tinaja, which means “the watering hole”, the Vandevers also grow and serve fresh organic produce, along with locally raised poultry and meats.

In service to their community, La Tinaja is much more than a restaurant. Their community garden produces fresh vegetables that are picked, cooked and served to their customers. They also purchase a large amount of what is served from local farmers, hoping to revive a culture rich in agriculture and sustainable living. Local textiles and artwork is also offered for sale or trade. La Tinaja’s outdoor amphitheater is also a regular site where free Music Is Medicine music lessons are taught to the youth of the community. There is also a ceremonial arena where traditional tribal performances, dances and bonfires take place. Tourists and locals alike are treated to the traditional stories and foods of the Navajo, the largest remaining indigenous tribe in the world.

Ira Vandever and his mother Mary went to NMSU Grants SBDC for help in all aspects of opening and operating the new business. Clemente Sanchez and Gerrie Ortiz were instrumental in helping launch the restaurant, while offering advice and technical support throughout the first year of operation. With no prior business experience, Ira and Mary relied on the expertise of the SBDC staff to keep them on course during this first year of start-up challenges.

La Tinaja has already opened a second site, Tinaja Express, in Grants, NM. The plan is to expand and hopefully franchise the Express concept of a limited service restaurant or sandwich shop in communities near and far. Trip Advisor and Yelp have La Tinaja ranked as a five-star experience, and CNN Travel Magazine just featured La Tinaja as a top destination where travelers can experience authentic Navajo culture and cuisine. They have been featured in the Gallup Independent and the Cibola County Beacon as a must-visit New Mexico destination.

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NMSU Grants Small Business Development Center
701 E. Roosevelt Avenue
Grants, New Mexico 87020-2113
(505) 287-8221
(505) 287-2125 fax
Office hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., M-F

  • Director: Clemente Sanchez (e: clemente@nmsu.edu or clemente@ad.nmsu.edu)
  • Business Advisor: Geraldine L. Ortiz (e: gerortiz@nmsu.edu)

    COUNSELING

    For the Inexperienced Business Person
    For the Experienced Business Person
    Various Areas of Counseling

    REFERRALS

    NMSU Grants SBDC provides referral services to our clients through internal and external service providers.

    TRAINING TOOLS

    LOCAL BUSINESS PARTNERS


    • Cibola Communities Economic Development Foundation
    • Grants/Cibola County Chamber of Commerce
    • New Mexico State University Grants Campus
    • Mainstreet Grants
    • Future Families Foundation
    • Grants State Bank
    • Cibola Foundation, Inc.
    • First Community Bank
    • Wells Fargo Bank
    • Pueblo of Acoma
    • Pueblo of Laguna
    • Navajo Nation


    The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) operates in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration under Cooperative Agreement No. 12-603001-Z-0032-24, and the State of New Mexico. The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of the cosponsor(s) or participants’ opinions, products or services. All SBDC programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Special arrangements for the handicapped will be made if requested in advance.

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