High school sweethearts Leanne and Santos “Shorty” Tapia have been business owners and entrepreneurs in Moriarty for 20 years.

This week they celebrate the anniversary of Shorty’s BBQ with a party Saturday. “There will be music, free food and roasted corn from Schwebach Farms,” said Leanne Tapia.

The Tapias enjoy working in their business and keeping family traditions. “What gets us up in the morning is our faith and the good work ethic we learned from our families,” Santos Tapia said.

He comes from a ranching family and his wife’s restaurant genes came from her dad, Mario diGesu, who owned Lucky’s Pizza in Albuquerque and Mario’s in Cedar Crest.

In 1993, diGesu helped his son Mark open a restaurant in Moriarty. In 1996 when he wanted to sell, the Tapias saw an opportunity to go into business for themselves.

“Early on we just came to think of our customers as friends.” Leanne Tapia said. “People aren’t a number, in business or in life. We take customer service seriously.” Consistency is another key to success, the Tapias maintain. “Our customers know they can rely on us for a friendly atmosphere and good food. And that doesn’t change.”

Any advice for a would-be entrepreneur? “Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework, is my advice, Santos Tapia said. “There are so many unanticipated costs that people don’t figure in or they’re unaware.”

Shorty’s is located on Route 66 in Moriarty, and can be reached at 505-832-0400.