Since junior high school, Ricardo Beltran has been cooking up food for the San Antonio community at the Owl Cafe. Here he is helping take down the dollars posted on the wall. Money goes towards children’s charities such as St. Jude’s and Make-A-Wish.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


Dozens and dozens of ones, fives, and tens tacked on the wall of the famous Owl Bar and Café by locals and tourists throughout the year were taken down and counted in the restaurant’s annual ritual last week.

Janice Argabright, who now operates the restaurant after taking over from her mother, Rowena Baca, a couple of years ago, said when all the bills were counted up, there was $1,757 this year.

“It was a good year,” Argabright said. “It feels so good to give back to the community.”

Now the money will be divvied up to various charities, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriners’ Hospital for Children, Carrie Tingley Hospital, New Mexico Vietnam Veterans, APAS, the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch and Alzheimer’s research.

Judging by the notes pinned to the bills one could learn a little about geography and the world. Visitors seeking out a green chile cheeseburger at the Owl came from all four corners of the compass and nearly every continent. Not to mention most of the 50 states, from Alaska to Florida.

The Owl has raised well over $33,000 since the yearly tradition was started by her parents at the famous San Antonio eatery 19 years ago.

But the Owl and its famous burgers go back much farther than that. It is believed Agrabright’s grandfather, Frank Chavez, invented the green chile cheeseburger, starting out with a bottle of Picante sauce on the table and adding green chile shortly thereafter.

Beloved by many, its recipe has remained the same since 1945.

That was 76 years ago, and the Owl Bar and Café continues to win awards for its green chile cheeseburger and its commitment to give back to the community, something that Argabright is proud to be a part of.