Emma Dean Najar first opened her little restaurant in 1991 on north 4th St. in Albuquerque New Mexico. It was small and only had 4 tables but she loved it and it was always her dream.
Business started to thrive and her chile is what brought customers in. Dean’s Chile was homemade and hot. She became known for her chile and people who loved hot homemade chile loved Deans cooking. After about three-and-a-half years Dean’s only daughter, Didi, became ill with leukemia.
Dean choose to close her little restaurant to take care of her daughter and her three children. After a two year fight Dean lost her only daughter at the age of 33. She was devastated and didn’t have the drive to reopen her restaurant. Her only son Frank took the three children, Connie 7, Julian 9, and Johnny 11 and raised them himself. He was single, working and living in Los Alamos. He moved to Albuquerque so Dean could help with the kids and he started commuting from Albuquerque.
After a year of commuting, Frank asked his mom to reopen the restaurant in a larger location and he would invest. She agreed and they went into business again. This location had a occupancy of 56 and was attached to the Sun Valley Bowling Alley just across the street from the old location. It soon became known for its hot and homemade chile. Not having a lot of capital, Frank invested in some billboards, got a commercial produced and aired it for four weeks. Then 9/11 happened and business slowed down.
Equipment needed to be replaced and business was slow so Frank and Dean decided to close the restaurant. Loyal customers were always asking Dean and Frank when they would reopen. Dean recalls “Every time I was out or went to a public event someone would come up to me and say I miss your Chile”. Dean played with the idea of reopening some day, maybe just a “to go” place or something small. But Frank said it would be better to just jar the chile and maybe expand from there. So Dean, always thinking and not lacking in motivation, signed up Frank and herself for classes to get certified to process and distribute her chile.
Now, Frank, Dean and the three kids (all grown up now) prepare and distribute the chile in over 30 locations throughout New Mexico. When deciding on a name Tio Frank is what the kids have always called Frank, So “Tio Frank’s” sounded like the perfect name. Dean still makes her Chile in small batches with all natural ingredients and from New Mexico grown Chile. Dean, her husband Paco, and the Family produce Package and distribute all the chile; and you can still find them doing demonstrations in the locations that carry their chile.