Pearl Ditmore – Owner/Operator of Pearl’s Restaurant in Lovington

It’s not all that often that someone from Lea County gets written up in a state wide magazine, but in 1977, the Hobbs Flare told of Lovington resident Pearl Ditmore’s write up in the June issue of New Mexico Magazine. Pearl came to Lovington shortly after World War II and in her first local restaurant configuration, she served meals and took in boarders at an old house at 19 West Central, the road that runs south of the court house. Pearl liked to cook and be with people. Her cooking style widely appealed to those in the region who would come there to eat or take away meals for later. She eventually moved to her best known location on Love Street. All meals were $2.50. There were no waiters or waitresses and no tips were allowed. Patrons were asked serve themselves and to bus their own dishes and silverware when they were finished with their meals.

Ditmore began serving breakfast at 6:30 AM and that meal lasted until 10:30. Lunch was served from 10:30 to 2:00 in the afternoon. There was no regularly scheduled evening meal, but a larger back room was available for gatherings such as banquets, luncheons and dinners. It was not unusual to read announcements in the local paper that a meeting of one of the civic clubs would be held at some appointed time at Pearl’s.

Pearl Barbour was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1914. She was taught to cook by her grandmother. After graduating from high school and attending business school, she had difficulty finding a job. Her grandmother helped her to open a hamburger restaurant in Gladewater, Texas where she catered to oilfield customers. After a number of other moves following the oil boom, she relocated to Lovington. Pearl married Don Dorrell Ditmore in 1952. Pearl also operated a boarding house before demand allowed her to tear out some walls and open it up to create a larger dining area.

Family style cooking was the norm and it became a popular place to eat in the county. For many years, the business did not even have a sign to announce the name. It wasn’t needed. Pearl was also known for her kindness to people down on their luck, including spouses of prisoners at the jail. She died in 2012 at the age of 97. Her obituary closed with these words, “We salute Pearl Barbour Ditmore for her long tenure of unselfish service to our community. Pearl, you have earned your crown of jewels in Heaven.”

Image credit: Kirby Smith Rogers Funeral Home

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