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MESCALERO, N.M. (July 21, 2021) – Casino Apache celebrated the grand opening of the Red Hat Grille on July 15 with a ribbon cutting ceremony that honored original Red Hats who officially marked the restaurant open for business. 

The ceremony began with an invocation from Ted Rodriguez, an original Mescalero Apache Red Hat and opening remarks from Frizzell Frizzell Jr., Chief Operating Officer at Inn of the Mountain Gods. The history of the Mescalero Red Hats was then told by Jonathan Adams, Director of Operations at Casino Apache before the ribbon cutting by Mason Guydelkon, Ted Rodriguez, Oliver Enjady, Delbert Mendez and Juan Peña, with thank you remarks from Sarah Kazhe, Director of Marketing. 

Red Hat Grille was named after the historic Mescalero Apache Red Hats, the first organized Native American wildfire crew that led the way for other highly skilled firefighting crews across the country. Established in 1948, the all-Indian fire-fighting organization would flourish well into the 1960s and was in demand all over the West. 

The original Red Hat crew consisted of 19 men from the Mescalero area; many were World War II veterans, which was exemplified in their strict style of fighting fire. Well known and highly respected, the Red Hats won acclaim for their work including their command of a sector of the 17,000-acre Capitan fire in Lincoln National Forest that scorched the paws of the now-famous bear Smokey. In 1954, the Red Hats were awarded the Interior Department’s top honor for meritorious service by distinguishing themselves “for gallant performance in service and for conservation and prevention of destruction of our natural resources.” 

“The Red Hats’ love and respect for the land as well as their deep sense of pride, tradition and fellowship contributed greatly to their success,” said Adams. “They are a cornerstone of our tribe’s history and being able to commemorate them and incorporate their story and memory into our property is an immense honor.“ 

The new restaurant is located in what was formerly Smokey B’s with a design that is centered around original historic photographs of the Red Hats, visually telling the story of these celebrated firefighters through the carefully curated decor. The menu has a variety of creative handcrafted items including sandwiches, salads, specialty entrees and an all-day breakfast menu. Some of the signature menu items include the Southwest Philly sandwich, Apache Tacos and desserts made daily. 

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