La Kiva Has New Owners

We first came to the Big Bend during our Christmas Breaks in the early 80’s.  This was shortly after Gil opened La Kiva and at a time when the Penisaurus had one more bone than it does now.


A few of you will remember and will be grinning at that comment.  This was at the time that Gil was stamping all the paper money that passed through his till with “La Kiva”.  Cute trick and it got our attention.  We fell in love with that wacky, underground  bar that did the good barbecue and so we ate there frequently when we were in the area.  We were living in Oklahoma at the time, so it wasn’t too far away.

Hiking the high Chisos
Hiking the high Chisos

It took us two days to make the journey because we had young children (you should see them now).  We camped, backpacked  and hiked all over the National Park.  It was heaven to us.  Warmer than Oklahoma City in winter, more interesting wildlife and much better scenery.  Add to that the wacky bar, good food and interesting company and you can see why we have been going back, at every opportunity, for over thirty years and now our children are taking their children.   In the mean time, my job dictated that we all moved

La Kiva oldto Minneapolis and that is a lot further away, but we still managed to hit Big Bend fairly often.  The last time was last year when we worked for the winter as volunteers at the Big Bend Ranch State Park.

La Kiva 010I was in Corpus Christi when I heard the news about Glen.  That incident haunted me for weeks.  I used to lay awake at night pondering what may have happened.   As soon as the initial shock had faded, my mind turned to the future of La Kiva.  I started to think that I may buy the place and reopen it.  I immediately dismissed the idea from my mind as impractical foolishness, but it kept sneaking back uninvited, usually late at night.  Weeks turned into months and still no sign of La Kiva reopening.

I came across comments on various websites that speculated that La Kiva may never re-open.  In alarm, I checked with a good friend who lives in Terlingua.  He told me that the bar was for sale, so I started investigating more seriously.  Making a long story short, I made a bid for it and failed.  A few weeks later I was contacted by the realtor saying that the bar was back on the market.  I went ahead and bought it and now I can say with some authority that La Kiva will open again.

Having got this far in the narrative you are wondering who this dude is that  bought the beloved La Kiva.  My name is John Holroyd and my wife is Josie.

All hat and no cattle.
All hat and no cattle.

I am an engineer and my wife is an artist.  We presently live on the western edge of Wisconsin close to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  We are both English and we moved to America in 1980 with our two children.  We hail from the county of Yorkshire, named after the city of York and the origin of my nickname, Yorky.  We are retired, though it looks like that just ended.

27 thoughts on “La Kiva Has New Owners”

  1. Great news! Everyone will be so excited that it will reopen. I wish you both the best! Looking forward to the reopening grand opening!!??

  2. Congratulations, we too fell in love with the area when we visited, and LaKiva was one of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat and have a drink after a day of hiking.
    We wish you the very best, and look forward to meet you when we visit again.

  3. Good to see La Kiva in the hands of good folks. Look forward to meeting y’all late October. All the best to you both.

  4. Loved ready your story and how you came to buy LaKiva. We are all so glad you did and appreciate all the time, effort and money it is taking to reopen it.
    Your thoughts on buying it remind me of how I went back and forth on the decision to buy our ranch out near Chinati Hot Springs. We too failed in our first attempt and then got another opportunity to make an offer again. Also, I thought of owning it continued to enter my mind and I finally decided I had to have it! That was 8 years ago and no regrets… is like heaven.
    Thanks again! You will be met with lots of support and love by west Texans!

  5. So glad someone who knows the people and the area and has a love for both bought the bar. We love that place and spend a great deal of time down there. Best wishes for a successful opening and business venture. We will see you in October for Barlow Bash and Chili Cookoff. We love the happy hour!

  6. Good Luck to you both! My wife and myself have spent many happy times at La Kiva. I am a Brit too, albeit a Welsh one, married to my Texas Treasure, my wife Cindy, who, when she was young, lived and worked in the Big Bend at Vila de la Mina outside of Terlingua. She wad a friend of Gil Felts, who was the late Glen’s uncle.
    We brought my nephew and his fiancé to the Big Bend on two occasions and visited La Kiva. They hail from Ripponden ,Yorkshire too! Small world……. We look forward to returning to the Big Bend as soon as we can, and hopefully meet you both. Take care….Rob & Cindy Tate

  7. The community thanks you……… just a suggestion, from Collie Ryan, this place needs to be ‘smugged’ and blessed prior to opening, for positive energy purposes……….”)

  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce yourselves to the community. The time you have taken with this blog and other steps you have initiated are great signs that you are feeling at home in the community and, in turn, welcoming us into your lives. Your sensitivity and intentions show in these posts and make it a real pleasure to welcome y’all here. I’ve been thinking about pulling in to say “Hi!’ so maybe I’ll just do that!

  9. Thanks for giving life to La Kiva. It is a critical component of the region.
    Glad to hear a fellow engineer bought it. That adds to my confidence that it will succeed.

  10. Congratulations! Glad LaKiva is going to someone who understands it’s history. We will visit you on the next trip.

  11. Glad it will be reopening. No one can ever take Glens place. But thank you for continuing a wonderful experience for many of us and many to come.

  12. Cogratulations! Terlingua is one of my favorite places on earth and La Kiva is quite special to me. I will be bringing my wife, parents, sisters and brother to help me celebrate another birthday at La Kiva, this will be my 50th, in March 2016. I hope to meet you then, if not before.

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