Pinon: New Cafe With Historic Roots

The new Pinon Cafe is a family operation with (from left) owners Rick and Alicia Sexton, Ellie Zafiris, Junior Edwards and Ernesto Castillo.

The new Pinon Cafe is a family operation with (from left) owners Rick and Alicia Sexton, Ellie Zafiris, Junior Edwards and Ernesto Castillo. Photo by Alexis Bechman. |

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There is now a place to eat a Mogollon Monster, the Elvis and a Croque Madame.

Never heard of these? Well, you will.

They are among the specialty dishes at the Pinon Café, which opened recently in the former location of the Knotty Pine Café, and has quickly set itself apart with inventive breakfast creations and a gluten free menu.

Owners Alicia and Rick Sexton said while they offer traditional diner favorites like cheese burgers, chocolate milk shakes and chicken fried steak and eggs they also wanted to spice things up a bit.

The huevos benedictos, for example, offers a twist on eggs benedict. It includes a poached egg and chorizo atop an English muffin with poblano chili sauce. And the Mogollon Monster is a burger patty topped with green chili, bacon, spicy chili mayo and an egg.

But how does gluten free fit in? The Sexton’s 17-year-old daughter has celiac disease and cannot eat gluten, typically found in bread products.

While the condition is gaining awareness and gluten free products are more prevalent in grocery stores, they can’t find restaurants where their daughter can eat.

Alicia said she knew if they ever opened a restaurant they would offer gluten free options – and not just salads.

“We didn’t want people who are gluten intolerant to feel second rate,” she said.

Diners can enjoy hamburgers with either regular buns, or gluten free bread. The same goes for French toast, sandwiches and other dishes.

The Sextons are working with chefs Gerald and Mike Edwards on the new menu. The brothers were working at the Knotty Pine and are part of a handful of staff the Sextons kept on when they bought the restaurant. Blending the brothers’ experience with their ideas, they came up with a varied menu that also includes dessert. Selections include pineapple upside down cake, deep fried pie and flourless chocolate cake (gluten free).

For the Sextons, this is their first time owning a restaurant, but not the first restaurant in the family.

Rick’s parents Paul and Diane Sexton own the Beeline Café with Rick’s uncle and aunt.

The Beeline has been in the family since 1962 when their grandmother Mildred Sexton bought it. Mildred owned the Knotty Pine Café briefly before that from 1954-1958.

Growing up on the Beeline, Rick learned from an early age about owning your own business.

For 20 years, the family owned Sexton Exterminating before selling it in 2009.

After that Rick and Alicia, together since they were 17, decided to pursue their passions. Alicia attended a nursing program and Rick went to helicopter school.

One day, they saw that the Knotty Pine building was for sale.

While the couple had talked about owning their own restaurant, it always seemed out of reach.

This time, however, their dream came true. While they had hoped to keep the Knotty Pine name, they could not come to a deal with the previous owners.

So they looked for a name that had history. They learned the McNeeley family ran the Pinon Restaurant successfully for years. They liked the name and its tie to the past.

The restaurant, 1001 S. Beeline Highway, offers a breakfast special everyday and is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call (928) 474-2890.

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