Yee, Mar return ‘home’ to visit family’s former restaurant

Marco Coronado, left, shows Nelson Mar through the kitchen of the El Coronado restaurant. Mar's grandfather opened the restaurant in 1939, calling it the Star Cafe. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — When State Treasurer Kimberly Yee visits the Gila Valley, she likes to meet with local officials at the El Coronado restaurant.

That location is not just because she enjoys the food — her husband’s family previously owned the restaurant years ago.

“Back then it was called the Star Café. I think we started up in 1939 or so, yeah. And it was actually a bunch of close relatives, so several families, basically, got together. So my grandfather and, I think, his uncle were two of the ones who started it,” said Nelson Mar.

Mar said his father went to grammar and high school in Safford while working at the restaurant, leaving to go to Arizona State University. Graduation and a job took him to California, where Mar was born.

However, the stories of the Gila Valley told by Mar’s father is what prompts Yee to visit the restaurant every chance she visits Graham County.

“It’s really wonderful to be in a community where you feel so welcome and at home, and it’s truly authentic. And the people of Safford are authentic,” Yee said.

tate Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks with local law At the El Coroando restaurant, senforcement and criminal justice officials during hervisit to the Gila Valley last week. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

During her visit, Yee spoke with local law enforcement and criminal justice officials, met with business owners at the Small Business Development Center at EAC, and gave the commencement address at Eastern’s graduation ceremony.

She discussed the economic opportunities that could come from Eastern being able to offer four-year degrees, as well as other growth areas for rural Arizona.

She also said she’s “seen overwhelming support for me to consider this (a run for governor) very seriously,” but she has not yet made a decision on her political future.