Entering a world where the median income is less than $20k per year, you have unlimited opportunities to view and live within a world where life takes care of itself in simpler ways. The simple homes, the broken down cars and rusty farm equipment strewn about in yards and on ranches tells tales of life in better times.
What’s seen as appalling at first to a new comer from wherever it appears to be more affluent, more prestigious, more comfortable and filled with more opportunity, these lives I am now becoming part of and getting to know much better are no less filled with laughter and passion. It is a different world and on a much smaller scope than the burgeoning population I am used to, but you can rest assured that I having a wonderful time here in my new and rather remote rural home.
Quick fixes made with duct tape, baling wire and just about anything available as a temporary fix rather than tearing something down, having the funds to purchase the correct new or used parts and complete the repairs correctly is literally seen everywhere. Older cars damaged in accidents with crunched fenders, miss-matched tires, wheels, doors, hoods, trunk lids and tail lights covered in transparent red tape is very common.
The slow to recover economy is felt quite strongly here…
Over the past few weeks I have met numerous applicants looking for work in our hotel and cafe and soon to be opened live music “ghost” lounge as everyone it seems is searching for better ways to help make ends meet. Scenes where entire families work together to survive the cold, brace from the high chaparral wind and put food on the table and a little gas in their cars has made a lasting imprint on my heart and my soul.
A recent experience that tugs on these strings of hope for all involved the removal of a family whose business had failed and my employer is now taking over at the very end of a two-year run attempting to be profitable. As tensions rise, I am caught in the middle of an alarming scenario which I have tried to defuse gracefully for several weeks now.
The closing of a restaurant run very poorly and fraught with woes brought on by filth, the management that of a prison warden, shocking health concerns and personal tragedy for the past year. What at first appeared to be a very friendly, community focused family has now exposed itself via an amazingly grimy kitchen, broken down appliances and a myriad of patchwork repairs made with the tools, parts and know-how that would surely amaze anyone walking into my small town existence.
Having survived theft, vandalism, course words screamed from passing cars, rumors spread about our “hostile” and aggressive takeover, there is light in the kitchen and dining room that lends a warmer, cleaner place for complete families to dine at their leisure. The almost complete redesign of our menu, a huge leap in the quality of supplies and the introduction of such favorites as a pizza oven, a char-broiler, a slow cook b-b-q and actual ovens that can bake fresh fare are to be introduced very soon.
Having become very familiar with the New Mexican favorites, I am now well aware of the caution needed when introducing new choices and even higher quality ingredients should be introduced with caution. The adaptation of a recipe suggestion box will also be placed at the cafe door with a myriad of daily specials used to discover what menu items should be more than simply penciled in. The local favorites will be retained, yet with a new flare for quality and pricing that will bring people in that had been scared or even forced away in the past.
For a newbie restaurateur, I am inspired and with my new management style that includes understanding, communication and humor I am certain that the flow of hopeful employees will continue to my office door.
My next step will include the invitation to musical artists we will invite to perform most nights of the week. Those personalities are quite eclectic to say the least I am finding…