Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: El Coronado celebrates its renovation with a ribbon cutting and grand re-opening.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – An anchor of Downtown Safford for 36 years, El Coronado recently went through a major renovation thanks to the Safford Downtown Association’s 48 Hour Business Makeover. Now, the only original fixture left is the matriarch herself, Mary Coronado.
The restaurant was at near-capacity Saturday morning at the scheduled ribbon-cutting with the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. As wait staff bustled in and out to take care of their customers, those looking for a good meal marveled at the fresh new look of the place.
The 48 Hour Business Makeover was a contest in which a finalist was chosen to receive $5,000 and more to renovate their business. While the idea was to quickly perform the renovation, El Coronado put in an extraordinary amount of work between volunteers from local businesses, members of the Safford Downtown Association and Coronado family members, to go above and beyond the original scope of the makeover.
The makeover did a complete renovation of the restaurant with a brand new interior, including new flooring, lighting, tabletops, fresh paint, a new bar countertop, and reupholstered seating. The facade outside also received a refresher with new signage.
Mary Coronado said her favorite thing about the renovation was the color scheme change. She also thanked all of those who helped make the renovation possible.
“I just appreciate the community – people (who) came, showed up and volunteered and the people (who) donated time and money,” she said. “It’s just a blessing.”
Mary’s son, Gregory Coronado, also thanked the Safford Downtown Association and Danny Smith for thinking of the contest and all of its assistance in the makeover.
“He (Danny Smith) was the driving force,” Gregory said. “He was here in some of the late hours and we had other association members who showed up and did either demolition work – some did painting (and) a lot of pitching in – even fellow businessman Mr. (John) Howard came over (and) pitched in. That was nice to see – business to business support.”
“Mary here and her family – they are icons to this Valley,” Howard said. “This restaurant is just a place that the whole Valley is fortunate to have.”
Sponsors of the “48 Hour Makeover” included Freeport McMoRan Inc., Ace Hardware, CMI-Quick Copy and Signs, Sorrenson Financial, and Carpet Tile and More.