Driving down Sabino Canyon Road, just north of Tanque Verde stands a 16-foot cowboy boot on the East side of the road. Now it stands in front of Vactor Ranch, a subdivision, however its original purpose was to advertise for The Tack Room, a 5star restaurant. Accourding to the Tack Room’s website, in 1940 Robinson Carr owned the property and built “Hacienda Moltacqu” for $22,000. This building overlooked his race track that featured quarter hoarse racing and sulky racing. In fact, during the summer moths the Tanque Verde Creek would flow through the property. Then in 1943 Van Grant bought the property and added on to the building and turned the race track into a cotton farm. 3 years late investors bought the property, two of the investors Fan and Marvin Kane eventually bought out the other investors. The property was turned into a dude ranch called Racho Del Rio. The son, of Marven and Fan, Jud took over. Part of his take over was placing his sister Alma Vactor in charge of food services. Eventually the whole Vactor family moved in. Alma’s husband David the operations and business manager. During this time period, the 1950s, air-conditioning was not around. Because of this the ranch could only operate form thanksgiving to the beginning of May. This made it very hard to keep the business running during the moths it was not in operation, because of this, in January 27th, 1965, they decided to open The Tack Room to the public. In 1974 Jud died and Drew Vactor took over. He was a University of Arizona graduate, and along side with his father David, they ran the faculty. Alma, the wife of David, and mother of Drew, continued to work in the kitchen with the chefs of the restaurant. The Tack room sits on about 4 acres of original land. In 1996 surrounding property was bought and 107 single family homes were developed by ContaVest. The subdivision named the neighborhood Vactor Ranch.
According the Tucson Foodie, “The Tack Room was the definition of fine dinning for nearly forty years.” the restaurant was extremely high end Dinner was served by waiters in tuxedoes, the service was just as excellent as the food. The restaurant served continental standards, of course with their own twist. In 1977 it won the Mobil Travel Guide Five Star Award. This was very substantial; it was the first restaurant in the southwest to win. It continued to win this award for just shy of 20 years. For many years it was the only 5-star restaurant in Tucson Arizona. Since then The Tack Room was induce into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame. The Tack Room has received the DIRoNA award for fine dining as well By the year 200 it won the AAA Five Diamond Award 8 years in row. Drew Vactor received the honor of Independent restaurant operator of the year in 1996.
During the late 1970s, Drew thought the restaurant needed a better sign from the road. Drew decided to go with the original Rancho Del Rio logo. The logo was a cowboy boot on a mountain. According to Tucson Business, Drew Hired Michael Kautza, Michael was a local artist. He designed the giant wine bottle that sits on North First Avenue. He built the frame of the boot in two pieces in his backyard. In 1976, he then transferred the framework near it’s current spot on Sabino Canyon Road. Once the framework was assembled he pored concrete and added lettering to the giant boot. The inside of the boot is hollow.
The boot is actually 40 feet East of it original location. In 1993 the City of Tucson decide to have Sabino Canyon Road widened. A Phoenix company Jacked the 16-foot concrete boot up on roller bars and railroad tracks to move it back in one piece.
In 1996 Drew Vactor retired, after 26 years. Bob McMohon’s Tucson-based Metro Restaurants bought the The Tack Room. The tack room continued it fine dinning until May 2003, when it closed. According to Tucson.com In October 2005 old fixtures from the resultant we actioned off. Money from the auction benefitted Habitat for Humanity. The boot is still there, Part of the agreement of the property becoming a residential area was the the boot would not be taken away. In fact many of the residents of Vactor Ranch want it to stay.
Connelly, Rita. "9 Iconic Restaurants From Tucson's Past." Tucson Foodie. N.p., 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <https://tucsonfoodie.com/2015/09/17/9-iconic-restaurants-from-tucsons-past/>.
Peachin, MAry Levy. "Alma Vactor, matriarch of Rancho Del Rio, the Tack Room and Vactor Ranch." Inside Tucson Business. N.p., 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <http://www.insidetucsonbusiness.com/community_lifestyle/alma-vactor-matriarch-of-rancho-del-rio-the-tack-room/article_5b5e7b66-55df-11e2-a9cd-001a4bcf887a.html>.
Star, Angela Pittenger Arizona Daily. "Tucson Oddity: Big boot once heralded tony restaurant." Arizona Daily Star. N.p., 01 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <http://tucson.com/news/local/tucson-oddity-big-boot-once-heralded-tony-restaurant/article_f3c18f3f-c8bb-5e83-bb6b-72780f56077c.html>.
Tyler, Ricard C. "History of The Tack Room." History of The Tack Room. N.p., 2 Aug. 2002. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <http://www.5stardesign.com/The-Tack-Room/trstory.htm>.