80 Year Contract Over At Carslbad Caverns


The company that has supplied concession services at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for nearly 80 years has lost the contract. Cavern Supply Co. will be replaced next year by Carlsbad Cavern Trading, owned by Santa Fe-based businessman Armand Ortega, to supply food, drinks, retail, kennel and vending services at the park. The new vendor was chosen after competitive bids, said Michael Snyder, National Park Service Intermountain regional director. Five companies bid. Carlsbad Cavern Trading will begin operations once a project to renovate the park’s visitor center is completed, expected next March. Cavern Supply president Frank Hodnett said it was a shock when the National Park Service chose another vendor. His Carlsbad company was specifically incorporated in 1927 to provide concession services at the park, he said. “We have no other business except the concession,” Hodnett said. “There is a very good possibility that we will close, but at this time, I can’t say for sure.” Cavern Supply sold its first meal in the cavern’s famed underground lunch room in 1927 and opened a surface restaurant the next year.

National Park Service is trying to choose service contracts based on merit and not senority. A good thing in my opinion.

I was at carlsbad caverns several years ago (pre digital cameras). The food was pre prepared sandwiches that came in boxes. The boxes looked like they were from 1927.

One Reply to “80 Year Contract Over At Carslbad Caverns”

  1. As absolutely no cooking is allowed in the underground lunchroom, pre-prepared sandwiches are about the only option. A box was used to contain them to provide protection which couldn’t be provided if a bag were used. However, since the NPS is going to close the underground lunchroom, this won’t even be an issue. The Cavern Supply Co. has been fighting this move for several years in an attempt to provide a much needed rest to visitors taking the 3 mile walk. I can’t think of any company more deserving than the Cavern Supply Co. which is a small town business, rather than a large multi-faceted conglomorate, more deserving to continue providing quality service to park visitors.

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