Written by Mike Cook Photography by Robin Zielinski
Every Thursday evening between 5pm and 8pm, you’ll likely find Lucy Peralt at Mountain View Market Kitchen and Co+op. She’s one of the many Las Crucens who has been to every single one of the store’s $3 dinners.
“The first thing that attracted me was the price. The quality of the food has kept me coming back,” she says.
Corinne Whitmill, the co-op’s marketing coordinator says attendance has averaged at about 200 people per dinner, “and it just keeps getting bigger. The reception’s been great!”
Co-op staff prepare the meals from scratch. Each menu includes a main dish like spaghetti, barbequed chicken or tofu, lasagna, curry, or enchiladas, along with side dishes like steamed vegetables, coleslaw, baked beans, and rolls. And, there’s even a water carafe, so the entire meal is exactly $3.
“What an unbeatable idea all the way around. I’ve been here for every single one of these meals. The food is always excellent,” says local artist Wayne Huber, who adds that the good food, along with the human factor, has kept him coming back each week. “It’s the people. I know half the people who are here.”
The dinners are often attended by political activists, so it’s a great place to talk politics and plan strategies. Other topics overheard at the dinners include football and baseball, the arts, and the weather. Wayne has been a co-op member since he moved to Las Cruces in 2000, but you don’t have to belong to the co-op to enjoy the $3 dinner. You just have to show up, buy a ticket, and get in line. You can eat inside or on tables set up outside Mountain View in the Idaho Crossing shopping center.
Preparing and serving the meals fulfills one of the seven co-operative principles that date back to Rochdale, England in 1844, according to the co-op’s website. The dinners help Mountain View fulfill the guiding principal of concern for the community. They bring people together for a meal that is “not exclusive or expensive. Everyone is welcome,” Corinne notes. “We want to get as many people as possible to come in here and see what we’re about.”
Susan and Keith Higgins, who have lived in Las Cruces for the past eight years, have also attended every Thursday evening dinner “It’s just the nicest meal and it’s inexpensive,” Susan says. “The lasagna was excellent, and I’m a lasagna connoisseur.”
“You get real mashed potatoes,” adds Keith. “You don’t often see that anymore.”
Dennis Nourse is watching his diet and said he appreciates that the dinners include gluten-free choices and other healthy foods. (Vegan and vegetarian main dishes are also served.)
Corinne says the co-op started serving the $3 meals in mid-June and plans to continue them for as long as they can. She says, “We’re community owned and we serve our community.”
Mountain View Market
1300 El Paseo Rd.