Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘Naa Daa Bighan’ opens in Lók’aahnteel

‘Naa Daa Bighan’ opens in Lók’aahnteel

By Nicholas House
Navajo Times

GANADO – Darlene Owens had a bigger vision: a steakhouse where casual meets quality.

Because she couldn’t find an ample space to provide a fine dining and steakhouse experience, Owens found a small space for a café near Ganado Chapter House. She named her restaurant “Naa Daa Bighan” or naadą́ą́’ bighan, meaning “corn house,” which has been in operation since June 1.

‘Naa Daa Bighan’ opens in Lók’aahnteel

Navajo Times | Nicholas House
Customers await orders inside the new Naa Daa Bighan café in Ganado, Ariz.

Owens said the Naa Daa Bighan has been bustling with customers for over a week.

“And the business is doing so well that we need a bigger space,” Owens explained. “We used to open at 6 a.m., now we open at 7 (o’clock) in the morning. We’re closing between 2-3 p.m., depending on our daily specials. That’s what we’re doing.”

Owens is a professional cook who owned “Fry Bread Mama’s” restaurant in Old Town Albuquerque, which catered to tourists. She is Ta’neeszahnii and born for Tábąąhá. Her maternal grandfather is Deeshchii’nii, and her paternal grandfather is Bilagáana. She is originally from Upper Cross Canyon, Arizona.

A ‘Corn House Breakfast’

Darlene Owens enjoys cooking. “I love a healthy, (the) good taste of food,” she said. “That’s what I like to do.”

She and her husband, Edward Mighetto, are empty nesters, allowing them to run Naa Daa Bighan and serve breakfast and lunch. The Naa Daa Bighan menu comprises local names, such as “Corn House Breakfast,” diced potatoes, beef summer sausage, green onions, bell peppers, and jalapeños. Other items are “Shama’s Breakfast,” made up of hash browns, two eggs, a choice of meat (link sausage, bacon, or ham), and Texas toast; and “Sheepherder’s Breakfast,” made up of two eggs, beans, posole, and tortilla.

“Chili is one of my favorites because (it) gives a really good flavor to your food,” Owens said. “Then we have Mexican food and local flavor.”

Local flavors are frybread burgers, fajitas, and tacos, among others.

“I do have my own signature salsa,” she said. “It goes flying off the shelf, so I try to serve my salsa with everything. We make it right there at the restaurant, and we sell it (there).”

Owens recently introduced colorful tortilla chips to go with her salsa.

Looking for an establishment

Darlene Owens started looking for a restaurant space in 2019. She and her husband looked at many old buildings in the area, but none of them fit the bill.

‘Naa Daa Bighan’ opens in Lók’aahnteel

Navajo Times | Nicholas House
A waiter takes orders inside the new Naa Daa Bighan café in Ganado, Ariz.

When some people learned she was looking for a space in the Ganado area, they pointed her toward a building near the chapter house under renovation. The building needed construction, said Owens.

“We (she and her husband) looked at it, and it seemed like it was an opportunity for what we wanted to do,” she explained. “We talked to a gentleman named Willie Tracey, the chapter manager.”

Owens and Edward Mighetto met with Tracey, an entrepreneur, to discuss acquiring the vacant building. “He said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Owens said. That’s when Naa Daa Bighan, named for corn grinding, for kinaaldá, came to be.

Naa Daa Bighan can accommodate 20 people. There are 16 chairs inside and four outside. Owens’s restaurant has three other restaurant staff members: a line cook, a waiter with “excellent customer service,” and a greeter/cashier.

“Once we get the corn-grinding machine, we’ll be grinding corn,” Owens added. “We want to carry kinaaldá items like hairbrush, stirring sticks, and clothing––stuff like that.

“But I love to cook. I wanted to pick up some spice and make it taste wonderful––put a smile on people’s faces.”

Owens thanks the Ganado Chapter and its officials, the Ganado community, area entrepreneurs, visitors, and customers who have visited Naa Daa Bighan thus far.


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