BLOOMFIELD — There will be no more Halloween parties for customers of Triangle Café, no more pie with coffee.
The iconic Bloomfield diner, 506 W. Broadway Ave., closed July 15 after about six decades in business. Owner Debbie Mohler sold the location after four years on the market for $350,000 to Serious Texas Bar-B-Q, a chain based in Durango, Colo. The location will be Serious Texas' second in New Mexico after opening in Farmington in 2010.
Mohler said some customers have cried with her over Triangle Café's demise.
"It's been our life," she said. "But now it's time to go a different direction, get a better life."
Mohler made the decision after years of health battles. She has suffered from lung cancer, a heart attack and multiple sclerosis in recent years. She said her health is somewhat better now, but she's glad to be done with the stress of running the café.
Mohler began working at the café in 1977 when her mother, Wilda Lasater, purchased the business from Pat and Roger Perkins. Mohler quit her job at Blazer Finance Co. in Bloomfield to become a waitress at the diner, known locally simply as "the Triangle."
"I came over to help my mother, and gosh, the money waitresses make shocked me," she said. "I always had cash in my pocket."
In 1980, 30 years old and with two children, Mohler was thrust into an unexpected decision. Her mother was killed suddenly, leaving Triangle Café to Mohler.
"She left it to me in her will," she said. "I had a choice of selling it or trying to run it."
Mohler opted for the latter, and, in 1981, she married Sam Mohler, who also brought two children to the marriage. They added two more to the family, and all six kids -- David, Joey, Shana, Shane, Derek and Jeremy -- grew up in Triangle Café. The kids bussed tables and washed dishes.
"We made them work for their money," Debbie Mohler said.
For three decades, the Mohlers sponsored Little League teams. Sam Mohler served as mayor, and the couple were named Citizens of the Year in 2001 by the Chamber of Commerce.
Triangle Café was known for its pies -- which Mohler made herself -- Mexican dishes and weekend breakfast buffets. Each year, Mohler hosted a Halloween party for more than 100 children. She often dressed as a witch.
Triangle Café's closure leaves a void for loyal customers. Cleah Tinker often went to the Triangle with her husband, Lyle, for coffee and conversation.
"We'd just go down there and sit and visit with people who came in to have coffee," Cleah Tinker said. "It was just really a nice place. It was our home away from home."
She added, "They had the best pies you could eat."
Tinker said she was a regular customer for more than 30 years. She had mixed feelings about seeing the café close.
"I was happy for Debbie, but I was sad to see the Triangle close," Tinker said. "It was kind of an icon for Bloomfield."
Mohler said she can't be sure exactly when Triangle Café first opened. San Juan County records document the business as early as 1957, but Mohler has a photograph taken there dated 1954. H.P. Goode is the earliest owner on record.
Triangle Café moved to its current location after the original at 401 W. Broadway Ave. burned in 1966. The owners at the time, Clarence and Helen Adair, soldiered on a few blocks away.
Mohler believes the café's name comes from its original location, where the intersection was triangular.
Triangle Café had 23 employees when it closed, Mohler said. The closure was a blow to some employees, but Mohler tried to soften it with two months notice. She also planned to treat employees to dinner at the Bar D Chuckwagon in Durango.
Mohler finally sold the property after dropping the price. The interior has largely been stripped.
Mohler said she avoided becoming emotional until her final walk-through.
"People that came in there were more like family," she said. "We called them by their names."