The City Magazine June 2024

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June 2024


FASHION · HEALTH · lifestyle


Shelley Mozelle |


Chaz Wilson |


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Chaz Wilson |

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518 W. San Antonio, Suite A

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Cover Design By: Ernie Sanchez Creative

Letters addressed to The City El Paso Magazine become the property of the magazine, and it owns all rights to their use. Letters may be edited for space. All rights to the contents of this magazine are owned in full by the magazine and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Editor in Chief. Views expressed herein are those of the authors and advertisers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or management of the magazine. All rights reserved. AT YOUR LOCAL WALGREENS Pick a copy of To Subscribe go to JOIN US THE CITY MAGAZINE GO ONLINE FOR MORE! CALENDAR GOT SOMETHING TO ADD? + ADD YOUR OWN EVENTS FOR FREE and give them more visibility and awareness go to for more or scan here now! EL PASO’S ONLY Locally-Owned TICKETING COMPANY DON’T MISS OUT ON THE MOST UP-TO-DATE CALENDAR IN EL PASO FOR ALL THE Socially Savvy OWNED BY FIND OUT ABOUT: ART EXHIBITS CONCERTS PARTIES FILMS SPECIAL EVENTS AND MORE
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From the

write this letter while on vacation in Europe, and that detail is important because during this relaxing time, I’ve indulged in one of my favorite passtimes – people watching. I love to embed myself in other cultures.

Observing their interactions, their trends, their attitudes, and their ways of life.

In an age in which Americans seem to accept how fully mapped our lives are, I wonder if we’re considering how recorded and routine our existence has become? We rise, drink a couple cups of coffee, glance at the day’s news, feed the dog, kiss the family, begin the workday, then rinse and repeat.

Are we so different from our counterparts across the world?

We’re featuring this month, the modern man. As I contemplate this, I become more aware of the diverse roles men play in our livesas husbands, significant others, fathers, and brothers.

Today’s modern man still plays a portion of the traditional roles but seems to be pushing the boundaries with a liberating and courageous voice, and often more in tune with his inner feelings, which has not always been the case. Historically, the male culture seemed to be burdened with the responsibility of wearing everything on his shoulders. It seems that in this modern age, the male role has given themselves permission to kiss their children more, tell those they love those “special” I love you words more often, and allow themselves to connect on a deeper emotional level.

I love this movement, and I love seeing a manly man with a puppy or holding a newborn baby, that vision never fails to move me. The diversity of our modern man is universally appealing and handsome, this seems to be globally. I’m especially aware of this on this trip (I confess that I often run so fast from one life responsibility to another that I don’t stop and watch) regardless of the culture or background, men everywhere love and hold their children in the same tender universal way.

This modern male movement seems to also follow them in their choices of clothing.

In a world where sweatshirts, ball caps and tennis shoes were the norm, men seem to be stepping up their style game (take a peek at the stylish men on our cover). I’m obsessed with the Italian men’s wear collections and look forward to seeing them on the backs and the buns of our American men.

This journey has been a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of masculinity and the beauty of observing it unfold across different cultures. I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I’ve enjoyed my time here, gaining new insights and appreciating the modern man in all his diverse, handsome glory.

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From the

t’s June and it’s “reigning” men in El Paso. This month, we’re showcasing inspirational entrepreneurs for our annual Men In Business issue who have pursued their passions with purpose. For most, gone are ambitions of traditional 9am to 5pm work schedules, macho maxims of stoicism under a “Boys don’t cry” mentality, as well as any misconception that you can’t make a living (and change lives) by following your dreams.

We have SO many great editorials about great men in our community.

For instance, take Annabella’s story on George Reynoso’s vinyl revival via All That Music. Many El Pasoans have memories of All That Music and its different locations throughout the years that demonstrate the connection shared through music. A former radio DJ, Reynoso leveraged his expertise on-air to create the business that introduced new generations of music fans to vinyl, and re-acquainted with familiar favorites.

The men in these pages not only have an eye for business, but also aesthetic sensibilities.

Yoali’s story on Vander Vanity is testament to the glamour and talent being cultivated in El Paso. As a makeup artist, stylist, and so much more, Vander’s found his muse in local rapper/singer/actor Krystall Poppin, creating visual feasts through cosmetics, fashion, and attitude. What I love most about the photography for this editorial is the decision to showcase natural beauty both inside and out in the visuals.

It’s no secret that Johnny Escalante and Kiki Cervantas – the initials behind J&K Present – have made an undeniable mark on the community for more than a decade. I remember the first boozy brunch they hosted at G2 back

when I was an intern for The City Magazine, and the suffering I endured that next morning after a late night gave way to an early morning and I had to trek to the office (sorry, Shelley). Since then, they’ve not only established themselves as tastemakers and vibe setters, but also formidable entrepreneurs who have their finger on the pulse of the Borderland.

Two of their bars are so nice, they’re named twice!

Later, Later and Hush Hish are to goto spots before, after, and sometimes during events at Southwest University Park that have helped shape the downtown nightlife scene with craveable cocktails, Instagram-worthy decor, and an understanding of the community they live and serve. Up Stanton and near the Cincinnati entertainment district you’ll find their other venture, Lost & Found that’s an oasis of liveliness and libations.

Plus, they have undeniable style.

As you’ll see on the cover and in the editorial spread, J&K have a style that extends well beyond the idea of “rizz.”

Many of us know J&K, Kings of Cool, business owners, and scene setters, but I’d like to introduce you to Johnny and Kiki and their “Hush Hush” kingdom.

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Erin COULEHAN Senior Editor Jordan LICON Shelley MOZELLE Yoali RODRIGUEZ Stephanie AMERENA Annabella MIRELES Amber LANAHAN Claudia CASTILLO NUÑEZ Claudia FLORES Katherine KOCIAN Veronica NEVAREZ Vic POULOS Charity VIZCAINO Sergio OLIVAS
17 June 2024 JUNE 2024 VOLUME 122 contents Features Here and Now 24 George Reynoso’s Vinyl
62 The ‘Hush Hush’ World of J&K By:
88 A Trike With A Dream By:
72 Gentlemen, This One’s For You By:
78 Uncorking the Perfect First Date with Wine By:
20 Unmasking Modern Masculinity By:
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Unmasking Modern Masculinity

In the realm of mental health, men encounter a landscape shaped by societal expectations and gender norms. Yet, within this intricate system, lies a narrative of resilience and redemption. With each step towards seeking help, they defy the confines of stoicism and embrace the courage to be vulnerable. In the sanctuary of counseling, they find solace—a space where authenticity reigns supreme, and healing begins. It’s a journey illuminated by strength, where every moment of vulnerability becomes a triumph, inspiring others to rewrite their own stories of resilience and renewal.

What unique challenges do men face when it comes to seeking help for their mental health?

Societal gender roles are the largest barrier to men seeking help, for both mental and physical health. In a previous article, I wrote about the impact of gender roles on women’s mental wellbeing. The tragic reality is that the same gender roles that contribute to women feeling overwhelmed and defeated, are the same ones that cause men to feel isolated.

June 2024

From childhood, boys are told “big boys don’t cry,” “tough it out,” and “don’t be a baby”. While many parents and caregivers have good intentions, teaching boys to “suck it up” is dehumanizing. It sends the message that males are not supposed to feel, and when they do (not if), they need to keep silent. Yet, once these boys grow into men, society shames them when they are emotionally unavailable or have outbursts of anger.

Next comes the shame.

Many of the male clients I have seen often feel lonely, and don’t believe they can talk to their friends about it due to fear of being perceived as weak. So, unlike women, who often seek social support in moments of stress, men are more likely to bottle it up.

What are some common misconceptions or stigmas surrounding men’s mental health, and how do you work to dispel them in your counseling sessions?

An important part of counseling is providing psychological education to clients. This often helps clients to feel understood and less

alone in their experiences. One of the biggest myths that I hear about men is that they do not have feelings. Men, just like women, are humans who suffer.

However, due to societal constructed gender roles, men typically display their emotions vastly different from women. When a woman is feeling anxious or depressed, she often internalizes those feelings (i.e., crying). While men typically externalize their feelings (i.e. yelling/getting in an altercation).

Both men and women feel.

However, the significant difference lies within the expression of these feelings, which can perpetuate stigmas of women as emotional and of men as angry. A core need of every human is to be seen and understood. If you are not taught how to acknowledge your feelings, it will be challenging to have positive coping skills when distress arises.


• Nearly one in four women received any mental health treatment (24.7%) in the past 12vmonths, compared with 13.4% of men.

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• Women were more likely than men to have taken medication for their mental health (20.6% and 10.7%, respectively) and to have received counseling or therapy from a mental health professional (11.7% and 7.2%) in the past 12 months. (From the NationalCenter for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2019).

• According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) over 48,000 people died by suicide in 2021 in the United States. In that same year, the suicide rate among men was almost four times higher than the suicide rate among women. While men make up around 50% of the U.S. population, they comprise nearly 80% of suicides.

Describe a case where you helped a male client overcome barriers to seeking support for their mental well-being?

Several years ago, I worked for a psychologist in Austin and conducted interviews with U.S. Veterans who were seeking V.A. claim benefits. I conducted hundreds



of assessments, a large majority of them, who were male, combat veterans. By providing psychoeducation, utilizing empathy, and validation I was able to provide a space for these individuals to speak openly about their time in the service, and the impact it had on their lives.

One gentleman had been out of the service for 20+ years and had never spoken about the traumas he witnessed while being deployed. He sobbed for several minutes, and afterwards told me he felt “lighter” and “more understood” than he had in over two decades. His willingness to be open allowed me to help him by connecting him to receive treatment for his trauma.

Given the societal expectations placed on men to be strong and self-reliant, how do you create a safe and non-judgmental space for male clients to express vulnerability and seek help for their emotional struggles?

It’s important to acknowledge that the act of seeking therapy is already a significant step towards vulnerability, and that takes strength!

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It is possible for two (or many more!) things to be true at the same time.

A man can be independent and strong, and also seek deep connection with himself and others. Those are not mutually exclusive. I find that when male clients are able to see their vulnerability as a strength, they’re able to accept the parts of themselves they have been hiding. I often equate this to wearing a mask. Just like gender norms expect women to be courteous and kind all the time, men are expected to be stoic and tough.

These narratives are tiresome and harmful.

Behind the façade we portray to the world, there is the true self. Many men I’ve had in therapy want to be seen and understood, and yet do not know how to go about achieving this. The mask only allows for them to be seen in a certain light. How exhausting! Imagine how fulfilling our lives could be if we were courageous and allowed people to see all of our parts: the confident, powerful, and also the parts that feel inadequate and rejected.

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George Reynoso’s Vinyl Revival

The medium in which we listen to music has changed drastically in just a few decades. Today, we pick up our phones and open apps like Spotify or Apple Music and choose a song with a click of a button. But before music became so easily accessible, tangible mediums were the hot commodity. In the 90s, CDs carried the music scene, and in the 80s it was cassette tapes.

However, those mediums never seemed to bounce back quite like the medium that grew in popularity in the 60s and 70s: vinyl.

Someone who not only appreciates the resurgence but also understands the importance of vinyl is George Reynoso, owner of All That Music & Video. Located within one of the most popular shopping spots in El Paso, you’ll find a store that specializes in vinyl records that you can buy (and even sell your own) records.

24 June 2024
| Words and photos by: ANNABELLA MIRELES |

Before All That Music & Video became the store at The Fountains at Farah that we all know and love, it was named Nostalgia Records and Tapes and was located on Montana and Raynolds.

“My family loaned me $8,000 to open up a lease, put in some carpet and build some fixtures,” Reynoso said. “It wasn’t enough for inventory; it was more to help me get started on deposits, utilities, and everything else that it takes to open up a little space.”

Starting a business with little to no inventory is a tough start, especially at only 26 years old, so Reynoso was on a journey to make connections and look for stock.

“I went out to California with a friend to make some contacts and as we got off the freeway, we saw this huge sign in the middle of Hollywood that said ‘BLOWOUT! Several million records!’ It was because the industry had just tanked due to the disco invasion,” he recalls.

Before Reynoso got into selling music, he was a radio DJ and television reporter. Reynoso said that it was his years as a radio DJ that helped him learn which records would sell. The store moved a total of five times before settling down in The Fountains at Farah in 2020.

“I went through the warehouse, and I probably found about 500 records that had a chance of selling here from all the time I spent on the radio. I’d listen to people and their requests, so I kind of knew what would sell in El Paso. I was the guy that was always on the radio playing music from the past. I knew the community and I knew the songs that people were looking for here.”

After starting his first record store, he later moved the store to Lee Trevino in 1987 and rebranded in 1994 to All That Music and then All That Music & Video in 2007 to widen the demographic and let the community know that his store wasn’t only for nostalgic records, but all types of music. 25 June 2024
Music is moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness and gaiety, and life to everything. It is the essence of order and leads to all that is good, true and beautiful.

“It gives credence to the adage ‘location, location, location’ for retail,” Reynoso said. “My old location was across the highway from Landry’s and was prominent. I mean, everyone knew who we were and where we were, but we just didn’t have traffic. We felt like maybe the freeway exit was wrong, but our core audience supported us, and we later were able to move on to The Fountains, where our market is now a lot younger. We’re finding out how to reach different demographics. Like, whether you’re 70 or 20, we’ve got all kinds of music.”

To Reynoso, music isn’t just something he puts on while he works. He understands it and views music as a representation of the generation.

“Music is very personal,” Reynoso said. “All the complexities that make up a personality are expressed through music, which is why,

generationally, every generation needs to fly and do their own thing. And in 30 years, children will be trying to express themselves uniquely for their generation. But this has been going on forever. It’s like a cycle. But good music with a good melody and harmony is timeless.”

Having your own business is no small feat for anyone, and even harder when people don’t believe in you.

“I was fearless,” Reynoso said. “I was too stubborn to fail. You just have that drive and ambition and with that, people will think you’re nuts. They gossiped about me saying ‘he’s going to fail’ or ‘he’s just got a little hole in the wall’ and I had to hear all that. But I was just having fun. It’s nice to be doing something that you like and that is your passion.”

Reynoso says that part of what has helped his business become so successful is not only catering to all music lovers, but also the resurgence of vinyl.

Factors such as nostalgia, sound quality, and collectability helped revive the craze for the tangible form.

Whether it’s being the proud owner of a controversial album cover like the Beatles’ “Yesterday and Today” or artists like Taylor Swift who release multiple vinyl variants, the combination of collectability and the warm analog sound that resembles being at a live concert inspired this resurgence that has helped Reynoso’s business.

“This generation wants something physical to hang on to,” Reynoso said. “The industry is smart. They’re doing gimmicks like releasing different colors or making them numbered.


We are now doing numbers that we did 20 years ago.”

With mediums going in and out of style, there is one thing that is certain: music never will.

One of the quotes that has kept Reynoso motivated through his career is one by Plato that moved him so much, it’s even printed on the side of his notepad.

“Music is moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness and gaiety, and life to everything. It is the essence of order and leads to all that is good, true and beautiful.”

It’s stories like Reynoso’s that should inspire small business owners and show that with passion and drive, a dream can turn into a successful store like his which is now a staple for music lovers in El Paso.

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The Home that Love Built

In Memory of Ken McDermott

May 12, 1941 — April 23, 2024

Kenneth James McDermott was known to be kind-hearted, humble, and inconspicuously hilarious to many of those who knew him well. The entrepreneur turned restaurateur passed away peacefully in his home on April 23, 2024, leading to a widespread outpouring of love and support from El Paso area residents, and beyond, and came to be well-known for our city’s beloved staple and Ken’s last venture, Track One.

30 June 2024

Born on May 12, 1941, in Fall River, Massachusetts, from very humble beginnings, he served our country for a lengthy 20-year career with the United States Army, and as many of Fort Bliss-stationed, military members often do, he fell in love with El Paso and made our Sun City his permanent home after retiring in 1978. His late wife, Lolly McDermott, fondly recalls Ken’s self-proclaimed love of El Pasoans and our weather as the reasons Ken would ultimately remain here for the rest of his life.

Following retirement, Ken embarked on several notable ventures that, like Track One, were longtime local favorites and remain memorable for most of us.

From The Little Dipper Lounge to The Plaza Lounge at the original Plaza Hotel during the late 1980s, the man had a keen knack for the bar and restaurant industry. He also

owned McDermotts Pub at what was once the Roadway Inn on Geronimo Drive, and ultimately took over the widely beloved Track One Restaurant, of which he’s been credited as the fourth owner who boasted the longest run since its inception back in 1972.

Fast forward to the 1990s, Lolly recalls an article that had been written during this time that raved about Track One’s delicious buffalo wings, which she explains were not generally popular at the time. It was at that point that

their wings became an almost overnight sensation and have very much remained a hands-down favorite for El Paso locals.

The rest is history.

Today, Track One boasts one of the longest award-winning streaks for their top-selling wings in town and other delightful eats. The ambiance lends equally to Track One’s longterm success, which, according to its history, was created by the relocation of three 31 June 2024

railroad cars consisting of a 1920 Vintage Southern Pacific dining car, a caboose, and a reefer boxcar.

Upon entry to the unique railroad-style eatery, the multitude of awards, both on the local level and beyond, are decked on just about every wall. The latest and most recent addition to the restaurant is their brand-new food truck, which offers onsite meals to any El Paso business looking to provide their employees, patrons, and guests alike with meals that are both convenient and delicious.

According to Lolly, Ken passed before he could see their new mobile caboose in action, but she knows he’d be very proud.

A 17-year-long teacher, Lolly retired to help Ken run Track One as it grew in popularity and learned firsthand the nuances of his successful operation.

32 June 2024 In Memory of Ken McDermott

It should be noted that Ken proved to be a loving family man and dear friend to those close to him. He was affectionately coined “The King” by those closest to him and as Lolly shares, stems from a hilarious inside joke within the huge circle of friends that they both enjoyed over the years.

Regular trips to Las Vegas were one of Ken’s top to-dos, as well as golfing at some of the most desirable golf courses in the country. Not only was he an excellent golfer, but he also golfed alongside the pros. Long before becoming an avid golfer, Ken was a pin boy at a bowling alley in his days who eventually became a championship bowler.

At their home, Ken and Lolly’s fun-loving “Track Two” mini-lounge and bar, as they coined it, holds almost as much memorabilia as the restaurant itself and became an athome extension of Ken’s cheerful nature. A loyal Boston Red Sox fan, unsurprisingly, the walls are adorned with baseball mementos and other keepsakes that span his love of his favorite team, and so much more. This modified garage that once housed a Winnebago is an extension, literally and

figuratively, of who he was as a person. The couple shared their Kern Place home for many, many years, and it shows. Truly, this is the home that love built.

All in all, Ken’s love for El Paso and his keen ability to serve up great food and drinks to our locals is part of the legacy he now leaves behind. Lolly intends to keep Track One “on course” for many more years to come in the same tradition that Ken paved the way for and now her son, Joseph Ramirez, will help carry on Ken’s mission to serve El Paso with the same level of gratitude and appreciation for all their patrons, past and present.

To sum up very simply, Lolly says that she and Joseph have basically “split Ken’s role,” which of course, were many.

For now, Track One lives on, as does the love Ken amassed over many years from all his devoted family and friends, of which many are loyal employees and longtime customers. And as many who knew him best have done over the years, let’s raise a toast to Ken McDermott and say, “Cheers to The King!” 33 June 2024
In Memory of Ken McDermott OVER 2000 RUGS FROM EVERY REGION OF PERSIA A room without a rug is like a kiss without a hug 915-842-8414 6600 North Mesa Suite 404, El Paso, Texas 79912 Stop by for a cup of tea and browse Repairing Cleaning Padding

Meet Kenneth Wilson CEO Showcase


One of El Paso’s longest-standing organizations is entering a new chapter in its more than one century of history with the arrival of a new CEO. The arrival heralds a promising era of innovation and inclusivity, where the YMCA’s mission of nurturing mind, body, and spirit finds renewed vigor.

As the newly appointed CEO, Kenneth Wilson brings not only a wealth of experience but also a profound dedication to fostering holistic growth and empowerment within communities. With his strategic prowess and compassionate ethos, he stands poised to redefine the YMCA’s role as a beacon of hope and transformation for generations to come.

With a career spanning 17 years within the YMCA, Wilson’s journey from a teacher coach to CEO reflects his unwavering commitment to community service and empowerment.

“I’ve been slowly just climbing my way up,” he shares.

Wilson’s journey with the YMCA began in San Diego, where he initially served as a teacher and coach.

However, it was his transition to full-time work with the YMCA that set him on a path of growth and impact. Moving to Oklahoma, he assumed the role of operations director, steadily ascending the ranks until he assumed the position of executive director. Eventually, Wilson found his way to El Paso,

drawn by the YMCA’s emphasis on family values and its mission as the Young Men’s Christian Association.

“I was drawn to the YMCA just for the fact that they are about family,” Wilson reflects. “I love that the values are just what the YMCA is at its core and a nonprofit and communities and then and the work that they do in the communities for the whole of a whole family and for those who don’t have as much as we do.”

Upon assuming the role of CEO in El Paso, Wilson’s vision became clear: to stabilize the YMCA and harness its potential to effect positive change in the community. Recognizing the pressing needs of the local populace, Wilson aims to position the YMCA as a beacon of support and service.

“I see the potential,” he says. “Everywhere that I’ve been with the YMCA, I have adjusted and figured out what the needs of the communities are and have positioned a way to be able to meet those needs.”

Wilson’s leadership is characterized by a hands-on approach and a deep understanding of community needs.

Despite facing challenges such as aging facilities, he finds inspiration in the unwavering support of the community.

“People are still coming to the Y,” he observes. “That really excited me. These people are here showing up for the Y.”

Looking ahead, Wilson envisions a future where the YMCA plays an integral role in burgeoning communities like East El Paso. With rapid growth and evolving infrastructural needs, he sees the YMCA as uniquely positioned to meet the community’s demands for recreation, support, and empowerment.

Central to Wilson’s philosophy is the importance of mentorship and community engagement. Whether through youth sports programs or professional development opportunities for staff, he believes in nurturing future leaders who embody the YMCA’s values.

“I had a great YMCA mentor,” Wilson shares, “and I hope to be able to pay that forward.”

Wilson’s tenure at YMCA of El Paso is marked by a profound dedication to serving the community. From providing financial assistance to families in need to fostering a sense of belonging among members, his leadership embodies the spirit of the YMCA. As he continues to lead by example, Wilson remains committed to realizing the organization’s mission of fostering holistic community development and empowerment.

“People in El Paso share passion and a connectedness,” says Wilson. “They show up because they’ve created relationships, maybe with our staff or maybe with someone in an aquatics class – and that’s what it’s all about. The YMCA has programs across the country but it’s the people in El Paso making our facilities so special. 35 37


The enduring legacy of entrepreneurship in El Paso is alive and well – and only getting stronger. Men in business carve out their mark on the city’s bustling economic scene, spanning generations of local ownership and operation. From the historic streets of downtown to the sprawling outskirts, El Paso’s business community reflects a rich diversity of ventures, each echoing the stories of those who came before. Whether rooted in time-honored traditions passed down through family lines or springing forth as bold new endeavors, these enterprises stand as pillars of the community, embodying the resilient spirit that defines the Borderland

Dr. Guillermo Becerra, Medical Director, Hospice El Paso 1440 Miracle Way (915) 532-5699

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

In medicine, care and love for patients are crucial. I wanted to help patients with innovative, integrative care. I began my journey as a solo physician eight years ago with my sister, Rubi Becerra, as my general manager and only employee. Together, we provided compassionate care, supporting our patients daily.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

We stay updated with the latest medical technologies and innovative treatments found in big cities. Our hospice is a pioneer in end-of-life care, treating all medical conditions with compassion and honesty. We prioritize patients’ goals and wishes during this very sensitive time in human life. We are the only hospice in El Paso that cares for children who are terminally ill; that is a sacred responsibility to us.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Prioritizing patient care over financial interests is a significant challenge. Balancing the limitless need for quality healthcare with limited resources always presents a significant hurdle. However, we remain committed to putting our patients’ needs first, as demonstrated by Hospice El Paso’s charity care program.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

Our well-structured team, with top-notch administrators and compassionate staff, helps us manage risks effectively. We never deny services and always find solutions, embodying our pioneering spirit. I often remind myself to “Just do it” to combat procrastination.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Look for inspiration from others in your field, innovate, and stay current even if it requires investment. Take care of your body, mind, and soul, believe in God, and be brave. It is also important to dream, travel and take joy in the small things; in other words, live each day to its fullest. Professionally, treat your team well, and lead with inspiration, not fear. Always love, cherish, and care for your family.

Photographed by:


What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

I feel incredibly humbled by my journey. Surrounding myself with people I admired played a crucial role. I always believe doing things well consistently produces quality and builds your reputation and brand. With God’s blessings, a strong educational foundation, hands-on learning, and hard work I found my path. My dissertation for my MBA, which was more of a capstone project, involved writing a business plan. People took interest in it and what started as a homework assignment turned into my first venture.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

Our mission at Hospice El Paso is unparalleled. It’s essential to have staff members who genuinely care and have a deep compassion for what they do. This dedication to caring for others is the heart and soul of our business.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In the world of entrepreneurship, we face numerous challenges such as financial constraints, regulatory issues, staffing, and accessibility. While no specific challenge stands out, the key is to approach each inevitable challenge with a positive attitude. It’s this mindset that helps us navigate through difficulties.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

Risk-taking involves a combination of analysis, research, preparation, planning, prayer, and action. Gathering as much information as possible increases the odds of success. When time is limited, I follow my gut instinct and say a prayer. Above all, it’s crucial to always do the right thing.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Surround yourself with good people—those with integrity. Always be honest and generous with rewards, and don’t forget to thank God. As I often say, “The success of all leaders is born on the shoulders of those they lead.”

1440 Miracle Way (915) 532-5699
Voiland, CEO, Hospice El Paso

West: 5929 Cromo, Suite B (915) 581-6688

East:1201 Montwood (915) 203-8800

What inspired your pursuit of dentistry, and how did that passion lead to your partnership in this practice? In the beginning, our passion for improving oral health and transforming lives motivated us to become dentists,” stated Dr. Vahid.

Dr. Naser, raised in a healthcare-immersed family, witnessed dentistry’s transformative impact firsthand. “The blend of art and science, along with the joy of seeing patients benefit from dental care, inspired me to pursue this field,” he added. Their partnership is rooted in the belief that dentistry can restore confidence and foster healthier communities, driving their shared mission to make a positive difference.

How does your dental practice uniquely cater to the needs of the community?

We stand out for our commitment to excellence and compassion,” Dr. Vahid explains. “Our comprehensive dental care includes advanced periodontal treatments and dental implants.”

Dr. Naser adds, “What sets us apart is our dedication to enhancing smiles and improving quality of life. We treat each patient like family, ensuring they feel valued and supported.” Their commitment to patient care, financial assistance, and community well-being is evident as they strive to provide the best treatments.


Can you recount a case where your dental practice significantly improved someone’s quality of life in the community?

Drs. Vahid and Naser share touching stories of transformation.

Dr. Vahid recalls a gentleman and an elderly woman whose smiles and confidence were restored through tailored treatment and dental implants, saying, “Witnessing both of their transformations, from despair to tears of joy is always heartwarming.”

Dr. Naser adds, “After undergoing our customized treatment plan, including dental implants, a patient tearfully expressed gratitude, saying, ‘You’ve restored my smile and my confidence—I feel like a new person.’ These stories highlight the profound impact of compassionate dental care.”

How do you combine technology and care to ensure patients feel supported throughout treatment?

“We combine cutting-edge dental technology with compassionate care, using digital imaging and minimally invasive procedures for accurate diagnosis and treatment,” explained Dr. Vahid. “What makes us unique is our empathetic approach and commitment to putting our patients’ needs at the center of everything we do.”

Dr. Naser adds, “Our patients are individuals with unique needs and concerns. We listen attentively, address fears, and guide them through every step. We prioritize education to enhance their quality of life. Our goal is for patients to feel valued, supported, and empowered throughout their dental experience.”

What advice do you have for those considering a career in dentistry or starting their own practice?

Dr. Vahid advises, “For those considering dentistry or starting a practice, passion and dedication are key. Remember, dentistry is more than a profession; it’s a calling. Building strong patient and community relationships are essential for making a meaningful impact.”

Dr. Naser, an El Paso District Dental Society member, emphasizes, “Engaging with the community is crucial in dentistry. Join local initiatives, prioritize patient-centered care, and foster a supportive environment. These steps are vital for a thriving practice that positively impacts lives.”


2244 Trawood Dr., Suite 100, El Paso, TX (915) 280-2354

1255 Country Club Rd. Suite C, Santa Teresa, NM

What inspired you to become a business leader?

It was more of who, rather than what inspired me to become not just a leader in business, but the community as well. Like most boys growing up, I looked up to my father (Harold), and wanted to be just like him. I’ve been very fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work beside him for the past several years, and am still inspired by his devotion to the mortgage company and its employees. My mother (Beth) has always been heavily involved with local non-profit organizations. Her commitment to the El Paso community is steadfast and it has inspired me to “give back” to a community that has treated our family so well for many years. My inspiration also stems from a desire to make family & close friends proud of who I am as a person.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspects of your business?

That’s easy! For me, helping El Pasoans Achieve the American Dream of Homeownership has got to be the most rewarding aspect of mortgage lending. In doing so, my goal is to ensure each and every Rocky Mountain Mortgage client is met with a smile. Customer Service is a priority, and providing a positive mortgage “experience” is key to meeting every customer’s needs.

44 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photography provided by Rocky Mountain Mortgage Company

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you have faced as a business leader, and how did you overcome it?

One of the more recent challenges I have had to face as a business leader was the COVID-19 pandemic. While many businesses were closing their doors and/or cutting staff, I made the decision to keep our doors open (and keep our staff). During the pandemic, we overcame many setbacks by adapting to the times, diversifying our services, cutting costs, and focusing on value-added solutions for our business partners and customers. All in all, the COVID-19 pandemic taught me valuable lessons relating to resilience and adaptability.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

Risk requires a balance between the timing of an opportunity and safeguarding a company’s interests. In business endeavors, I believe in calculated risks that are grounded in comprehensive research and analysis. Potential rewards are weighed against associated risks before making decisions. To manage and mitigate risks, we implement contingency plans, maintain robust relationships with financial institutions, and stay well-informed about market trends and regulatory changes.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

My advice to aspiring businessmen and entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey is to be passionate about what you do, stay focused on your goals, and never give up despite challenges or setbacks. Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, advisors, and peers who can offer guidance and encouragement along the way. And most importantly, always strive for excellence in everything you do, quality work will always speak for itself in the long run.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 45 Photography provided by Rocky Mountain Mortgage Company
46 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: ANNABELLA MIRELES Alfredo H. Arellano PMHCNS-BC, PA Psychiatry & TMS Clinic 1122 Montana Ave. 1611 Beech St. Ste. D 2204 Joe Battle Blvd. Ste. 207 (Opening in July!) (915) 307-5796

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

My wife and I wanted to build a business that reflects our values, provides the most up-to-date psychiatric services, and serves the needs of our community. The ability to run my own business based on what is best for our patients is the most satisfying part of having my practice. Our first office had a waiting room and my office, four years later we now have three locations to serve the El Paso community.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

The level of commitment to offer research-based psychiatric services, utilizing advanced technology, and highly trained staff sets us apart. We are proud that we offer services that can be found in any other major U.S. city. Patient feedback and testimonials validate our patient outcomes with regards to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and other services provided.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Navigating the health insurance business has and continues to be a challenge. In February 2024, a cyberattack on United Healthcare

Insurance froze claims and payments for three months. We were fortunate to have saved money for a rainy day and continued operations as usual by relying on God to take care of the issue as it was beyond our control. Like always, he came through!

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

Research and networking is critical when taking risks. Seek out individuals who have already done it successfully and ask them for advice. Do not reinvent the wheel or try to do it yourself. Put your ego aside and learn from others to minimize risks and implement strategies to overcome them. Then when you succeed, help others succeed!

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Research everything you can about your business. Always take care of your customers, provide excellence in the service you provide, train your staff and know your market. The financial side of the house will take care of itself if you do the first four areas. Many businesses focus on the money and forget the other areas. In the end, you want to be known for the product that you deliver!


Manuel Mendez, TLC Hospice Services

3711 Admiral St. Ste. A (915) 529-2119

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

My Father inspired me. My father used to own catering trucks and restaurants. I always thought I would own my own restaurant someday. At a young age, a friend asked me to help him out with his business. He had a Home Care here in El Paso. Seeing him working with elderly patients just moved my heart. Learning to work with the elderly community just felt good and rewarding at the same time.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

I started my business working with the elderly. Trying to make them as comfortable as possible during their last days, is the least we can do. Matthew 7:12 says, “To treats others as you would like to be treated,” and that’s what I like to base my life on.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

As an entrepreneur, you go through many challenges. The biggest challenge I faced at the beginning was financial. At the beginning, every little bit of income that comes in goes to the business. With time and with the help of God, those financial struggles have gone away. Other challenges have arisen, and I’m sure that they will always come up, but I really put my faith and trust in God.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

First, you have to weigh the risk. Plan the risk and just do what feels right. Owning a business is not easy but well worth it.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Always follow your dreams. Always put God first and just take risks; You have to just go for it. Many times, you might feel like giving up or that it’s not getting any better, but you just have to keep going.

As an entrepreneur you need to understand you will work harder and put in more hours.


What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

Having led multiple marketing departments for years, we identified a gap in the market for more effective and affordable solutions that put the client’s needs first. Collectively, we offer over 60 years of experience spanning traditional media, digital marketing, website development, video production, and social media strategy. Oftentimes, agencies want to fit the client to their playbook and not the other way around. We create customized marketing solutions based on the needs of our clients to help them move the needle as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

We care deeply about our clients. We believe the best way to serve them is by becoming an extension of their business and adopting their goals as our own. We are committed to extreme accountability and transparency in everything we do. This approach allows us to build long-lasting relationships with our clients.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In our industry, every day brings unique challenges. As a marketing agency, we face our own internal challenges and often need to adapt to those our clients encounter. Audax was founded on a simple philosophy to address these problems: work our asses off! There’s no secret sauce. We tackle every challenge, both internal and external, with relentless effort because that’s what our clients need from us and that’s what we are committed to doing, day in and day out.

Audax Studios (915) 838-5551

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

We prepare diligently. By staying educated and putting in the work, we aim to be leaders in our industry. The biggest risk a marketing agency can take is falling asleep at the wheel. If we’re not constantly learning and staying at the forefront of what’s possible, we risk falling behind. More importantly, it would be a disservice to our clients, which is simply irresponsible.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Find your passion, establish a vision, stick to your values, and commit to seeing it through. The reality is that the journey into entrepreneurship is not easy. When you step into this world, you take on a responsibility to yourself and those around you to give it everything you have. Preparation, hard work, integrity, and grit will propel you into the future of your dreams. Go be bold!


Ruben Alvarez

The Marketing Hunters 1100 Montana Ave., Suite 213 (714) 345-9541


What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

In 2019, after devoting eight years to a company where I expected to become a partner, I was disheartened when it was sold, shattering my aspirations. Despite a modest bonus for growing the business, I realized my goals didn’t align with the company’s vision. Drawing on my sales and marketing expertise, I launched The Marketing Hunters, determined to forge my own path. While starting anew presented challenges, I was driven by the desire to build a company that values dedication and effort.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

Our unique strength at Marketing Hunters lies in our creativity and openness to criticism. Unlike many businesses, we don’t prioritize ego-stroking; if an idea falls short, we’re quick to acknowledge it. This culture resembles Netflix’s past, where dissent was valued. Our priority is client success, so we welcome feedback on ideas, fostering a culture of honesty and growth for everyone involved.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Unlike the pandemic, the current climate is marked by heightened fear and caution. I rely on past experiences, which lack recession exposure. Seeking guidance from seasoned professionals, I’ve intensified sales tactics and streamlined internal processes to retain clients. I’ve learned that those committed to excellence thrive, even amidst adversity.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

There are three primary approaches to risk: risk aversion, calculated risk-taking, and high-stakes speculation. While enticed by big paydays, cautionary tales like Alex Hormozi’s $50K loss give pause. Warren Buffet’s gradual wealth accumulation underscores the value of measured risk. I carefully evaluate risks, avoiding those that jeopardize my well-being or sleep.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Anyone who is starting needs to know that you cannot have shame when starting a business. There are only so many reasons your business will fail. Most of them will be because you care too much about who you are and how you will be seen if you do something. The sooner you let go of your shame or ego, the faster you can do all the things necessary that will ensure you succeed.


3D Scalp Micropigmentation Studio 7423 Alameda Ave., Suite B4 (915) 261-9819

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

I have always been inspired by people who had their own companies and always asked many questions. I learned a lot from multiple entrepreneurs and pieced together a foundation that would eventually lead to where I am today, the hear-and-now! I want to say that my first real opportunity was at 17. I had the chance to work for an engineer who managed his successful construction company. This gentleman taught me the basic principles of accounting, the basic principles of negotiating contracts, and essential hiring and interviewing people skills. I call it “The School of Hard Knocks.”

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

Nowadays, we struggle with social belonging, self-confidence, and believing in ourselves. I consider what we do at 3D Scalp Micropigmentation to encapsulate all the facets mentioned. We genuinely believe that we add real personal value to one’s self-esteem and how they walk away with a fresh outlook on their appearance, and I love the look and glow of their aura. Our clients exude a new and healthier me! The best and most fulfilling moments are when we are provided the honor of performing our micro-pigmentation on clients who have undergone an arduous Medical Journey.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Our most significant and challenging moment was the world succumbing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was sudden and unforeseen! There was a lengthy lapse of no business, and luckily for myself and my family, we have always lived with reason and managed what liquidity we did have at our disposal to carry us through. But, as the world around us managed to survive, so did we, thanks to our Lord.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

I am an optimist and believe in myself 110%! I always consider a NO as the Next Opportunity! I closely review every opportunity with reason, sustainability, and progressive thinking about every project. I mitigate risk by thoroughly understanding the project and its realistic viability.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

“If you do not believe in yourself, how do you expect the world to believe in you!” Go to school and educate yourself; knowledge and a solid foundation are power! As Entrepreneurs, you must be passionate about your project ventures to persevere. To bring real value to any prospective targets, you must always ask, “Why am I targeting this group/person and delivering a real-valued solution!”

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 51 Photography provided by 3D Scalp Micropigmentation Studio

Torch Fitness

1147 Larry Mahan Dr., Suite D (915) 799-6664


What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

Inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur didn’t come to me till a bit later in my adulthood. Before I started my business I was a firefighter for the El Paso fire department and left after 5 years to pursue a degree in nursing. During that transition an opportunity came to me to take over a small gym that had decided to close down. Once I took over and got a taste of becoming my own boss I was hooked. Owning my own business allows me to do what I’ve always loved doing, helping others to lead better, healthier lives on my own terms.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

I consider my gym to be very different from other group training gyms because we take a very different approach to coaching and programming for our members. Unconventional training is a form of training that I believe anybody can benefit from. From someone new starting out to a seasoned crossfitter. Torch Fitness is that hidden gem that won’t stay too hidden for long.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge starting out was having no experience. Entrepreneurship is literally a trial by fire and not many people are cut out for this life. I will be in business 7 plus years now and there isn’t a day where I’m not challenged or learn something new. I love this life.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

Taking risks is essential to creating an original business entity in that you’re the first person trying out this new thing you’re trying to do. Your experience will be your own and if you’re successful others can benefit from it. I think every risk I take is always considering how it will benefit my customers.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Simple advice. Never give up. Always outwork your competition and don’t have a plan B. Stay the course.

Photographed by:

What inspired you to join the utility industry, and can you share the story of how you started at EPE?

The opportunity to work at El Paso Electric (EPE) early in my career was incredibly exciting. I started in the Environmental department, gaining valuable experience by supporting our operations team and focusing on power supply activities. This role opened the door to working with the Regulatory and Government Affairs team. For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of representing EPE, engaging with elected officials and regulatory bodies locally, federally and in our service areas in Austin and Santa Fe. Being an El Paso native, husband, father and a UTEP engineering graduate, this role has been especially meaningful as it allows me to contribute to my community and EPE’s broader region spanning west Texas to southern New Mexico.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of EPE?

Our employees. EPE is a 1,150-member family that never settles and could not possibly take the job of keeping your lights on more seriously. I have the daily privilege and honor of working with the best individuals in the industry and we couldn’t be prouder to call this region home. In supporting our employees’ efforts, we work hand in hand with our union members from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 960, economic development organizations, local educational institutions, nonprofits and many local suppliers.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you all faced as an organization , and how did you overcome it?

One significant challenge we faced as an organization was the threat posed in 2023 by Proposition K, which would have jeopardized our ability to serve and invest in our community. To overcome this

Daniel Perez, Director of Regulatory & Government Affairs

El Paso Electric

100 N. Stanton

challenge, we educated and engaged customers, employees, community partners and local leaders. Through a robust campaign highlighting the potential negative impacts of Proposition K, we successfully communicated to customers the importance of maintaining our ability to invest in infrastructure and provide reliable service. Our collective efforts led to the defeat of the proposition, allowing us to continue our mission of powering what matters for our community.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

At EPE, we approach risk-taking with a balanced and strategic mindset. EPE conducts comprehensive risk assessments before integrating new technologies and projects, identifying potential risks, evaluating their impact and developing contingency plans. Our continuous improvement mindset allows us to adapt to changing conditions and emerging challenges, turning potential risks into opportunities for growth. This careful balance ensures we provide reliable service and foster the growth of our community.

What is one thing about you and/or EPE that you wish everyone knew?

From our roots in the heart of downtown El Paso, we continue to grow and thrive, fueled by the resilience and passion of our people. Every single day, we build on this remarkable legacy and I am honored to be a part of this journey, celebrating and contributing to the future of a place we all proudly call home. Our community, our culture, our universities and our employees are second to none. I love working for an organization that continues to build on its 123-year legacy of reliably powering our community.


What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

After working for various solar companies and recognizing the need for better service in El Paso, we were inspired to establish WestStar Energy Solutions. We believe that solar energy, when implemented correctly, can benefit every home. Determined to provide the highest quality solutions, we took matters into our own hands. Thus, WestStar Energy Solutions was born: a company dedicated to delivering exceptional, locally-focused solar energy services. El Paso’s local solar experts. El Paso for El Paso.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

At WestStar Energy Solutions, our most distinctive qualities are our deep love and commitment to El Paso. We are dedicated to providing the community with tailored solar energy solutions at fair prices. Our goal is to educate El Paso families about the specific solar needs of their homes, recognizing that each house is unique and requires a customized system.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One significant challenge we continue to face is the influx of out-of-state companies providing incorrect information about solar energy in El Paso. Solar energy regulations here differ from those in most other regions, as we have a single electric company with unique guidelines.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

At WestStar Energy Solutions, we believe that risk management is fundamentally about providing accurate information. Misinforming our El Paso families leads to dissatisfaction, a risk we are not willing to take. Ensuring our clients have the correct information is our top priority to maintain happy and well-informed households.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

For aspiring entrepreneurs embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, our advice is to embrace passion, persistence, and perseverance. Believe wholeheartedly in your vision, stay committed to your goals, and be prepared to overcome obstacles with creativity and resilience. Surround yourself with a strong support network of mentors, peers, and advisors who can offer guidance and encouragement along the way.

WestStar Energy Solutions 7717 Lockheed Dr. (915) 955-3096

Gerald Miller, Poe Toyota 6330 Montana (915) 775-2000

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

I’ve always had a deep and abiding passion for cars. This love affair with automobiles began at a young age and only grew stronger over time. I embarked on my 45-year career in the car business as a mechanic, where I spent countless hours under the hoods of various vehicles, learning their intricate workings and honing my skills. From the roar of a finely tuned engine to the satisfaction of diagnosing and fixing a complex issue, every aspect of being a mechanic resonated with me deeply.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

Helping people with all their automotive needs, whether it’s servicing their vehicle or selling them a new one, has been a deeply rewarding aspect of my career. Providing expert maintenance and guiding customers through the purchase of their dream car brings immense satisfaction. There’s nothing quite like seeing the smile on a client’s face when they drive away in a perfectly serviced car or a brand-new vehicle that fits their needs and desires.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it? Operating during COVID may have been the most challenging time that I have experienced in my career. Keeping our employees and customers safe, managing the disruptions, and dealing with the lack of inventory was a huge challenge. The constant need to adapt to rapidly changing guidelines and supply chain issues tested our resilience and ingenuity daily. Despite these obstacles, we remained committed to providing exceptional service and support to our valued customers.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

I’m very disciplined in my thought process about any risk-taking. I try to think of every angle, good or bad, before making any decisions affecting the business. I really strive hard to avoid impacting any of our employees or customers with any bad decisions. By carefully weighing all possible outcomes and considering the long-term effects, I ensure that my choices are informed and responsible.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

I would tell anyone just starting out to find something they are passionate about and go for it. Learn everything there is to know from the ground up. Stay focused and never forget where you came from. Embrace every opportunity to gain knowledge and experience, as these will be invaluable in your journey. Maintain humility and gratitude for your beginnings, as this will keep you grounded and motivated.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 55 Photography providerd by Poe Toyota

Law Office of Gabriel S. Perez

What kind of law do you specialize in?

Our office specializes in personal injury, civil claims and federal civil rights cases. We expertly handle misdemeanors, felonies, and capital felonies in state and federal courts. The team also specializes in civil litigation (state and federal) that ranges from business litigation, breach of contract, construction litigation, and more. Additionally, we focus on personal injury from slip-and-fall accidents and dog bites, to car accidents and wrongful death claims.

Why did you become an attorney?

I try to help those who can’t help themselves. We strive to achieve positive results for our clients while maintaining professionalism at all times. I have extensive experience resolving complex issues across a multitude of areas.

What do you want readers to know about you?

I have suffered two catastrophic accidents, and am intimately aware of the devastating effects that my clients go through in their own situations. I understand the impact of being hurt because of someone else’s negligence and will fight for the justice of my clients.

How do you ensure each client is treated well?

I personally meet with each new client at the initial consultation. I want to make sure they know that I will be handling their case and overseeing every aspect from start to finish.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

El Paso is home. My son attends UTEP as did I. We are a Miner family and proud of it. I recently funded a scholarship at UTEP for local students wishing to pursue law school.

(915) 444-5351 56 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
N. Campbell

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and can you share the story of how you started your first venture?

Sergio: Entrepreneurship is not an inspiration for me, it is more of a process. I always wanted to bring comedy to El Paso, and this town embraces and loves good food. To me that’s not entrepreneurship, that is a combination of the two best things we can have, love and humor.

What do you consider to be the most special qualities or aspects of your business?

Aaron: We ensure the food is cooked and delivered to perfection, our Kool-Aid and lemonade drinks are unique and very rarely served here in El Paso. There is currently no other venue in El Paso that brings nationally recognized comedians and the option to have a full course meal during a live comedy show, or just drop by Monday through Sunday and have breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food is delicious.

Can you describe a significant challenge or setback you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Sergio: Serving in the Army, working for the government, or working for myself the learning curb has become more of an exercise. I really stress to our employees that we are all here for each other, and the most important thing that I have learned working in the service industry is to provide the best service that you can, the absolute best service.

How do you approach risk-taking in your business endeavors, and what strategies do you employ to manage and mitigate potential risks?

Aaron: The most difficult challenge we have is getting people in the door, most people do not know we are even here in El Paso. The only risk we may incur is not optimizing our time when we are not busy. When that happens, we have our employees on their phones posting on social media and reaching out to their network advertising Chuckles.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?

Sergio: Make it a process, make it something you love, love to do, or love to have. Both Aaron and I love the venue, he loves to cook and make people happy, I love to joke and make people happy, we both love what we do, that is why together we are “Morning Love.”

Sergio Morning & Aaron Love Chuckles Chick-In And Waffles 1506 Lee Trevino Dr. (913) 213-1518

Three Mule Saloon 4907 Crossroads Dr. (915) 999-8091

Three Mule Saloon


Photographey provideed by Three Mule Saloon MAYOR OSCAR LEESER Mayor, City of El Paso

Make noise, take charge.

Join our Empowering Leaders Society!

Turn your ideas into action with Raiz Federal Credit Union. We’re inviting young visionaries like you to join our Empowering Leaders Society. This isn’t just a program — it’s your platform to shine, share, and grow. Here’s what we offer:

• Mentorship and guidance: Gain real-world insights from leaders who care about your success.

• Professional workshops: Sharpen your skills with tailor-made workshops that prepare you for leadership.

• Community engagement: Make a lasting impact with projects that matter to our community.

• Your voice matters: Have a say in our direction and community initiatives.

Designed for young minds between 16 and 22 eager to impact tomorrow, this program is your chance to lead the way. If you’re ready to step up, we’re ready for you.

Want to be the voice of your generation? Take the first step today.

Scan the QR code or visit to start your application or nominate a leader.

Federally Insured by NCUA

The ‘Hush Hush’ World of

Editorial photography by:

Editorial Assistant: KATHERINE KOCIAN

Additional photography courtesy of: JOHNNY ESCALANTE

Step into the pulsating rhythm of El Paso’s nocturnal heartbeat and meet the disruptors of the status quo: Johnny Escalante and Kiki Cervantes, the namesakes behind J&K Present. In a city where tradition meets the avant-garde, these two renegades have carved out a realm of boundless creativity and unbridled passion. From local origins to the zenith of El Paso’s entertainment echelon, their journey is emblematic of audacity, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries.

It’s the beginning of the summer, and we’re sitting inside Hush Hush, the duo’s most recent bar venture near Southwest University Park, which they created after updating and resuscitating the bones of


the building that was the former Blackbird Cantina. The end result is a transportive architectural experience that is undeniably cool and effortlessly stylish.

Or so it seems.

Behind the craft cocktails, chic decor, and overall vibe lies an adventure of grit and determination as two entrepreneurs break conventional norms and write their own rules while overseeing multiple businesses. From navigating the treacherous waters of the industry to weathering the storms of uncertainty, Escalante and Cervantes have emerged as architects of their destiny. Theirs is a saga of calculated risks, strategic alliances, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Like the local scene they’ve created and mastered, the foundation of their friendship is a social one.

“We had a lot of mutual friends,” says Cervantes of their introduction in the aughts. “One of my best friends, who I grew up and went to school with, is Johnny’s sister, Jessica, who is my age. When I moved back from TCU, I was friends with the same group as he was coming up.”

Cervantes graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising from TCU, and moved home to work in his family’s denim manufacturing business, Border Apparel.

“When I moved back, it was like, ‘Okay, I graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising – I’m going to be in fashion.’ But I came back, and my dad said, ‘Okay, eight o’clock! You’re working in accounting.’ That lasted a whole month,” he laughs. “I’m not a 9 to 5 person with a 12 to 1 lunch hour. I was trying to be more on the fashion side of creative product development but still had the curiosity of doing something else. I’ve always been a fan of music and entertainment.”

Enter, Escalante.

While also working for his family’s business, Escalante Roofing, the two’s orbits intersected.

Initially, their venture stemmed from their social circles and mutual interests.

“It was like, ‘You know people; I know people. Let’s do a party or a show, and we’ll see what happens,’” says Escalante.

El Pasoans of a certain age (mostly millennials) have fond memories of “The Morning After.”

These brunches, day parties thrown by Escalante and Cervantes before they were J&K, were wild from the start – and in the best possible way. The brunch first started inside G2, then quickly grew to take over the restaurant’s parking lot, eventually outgrowing the Cincinnati Entertainment District and moving to downtown.

Champagne. Confetti. Cool music played loud.

Like the expansion of the parties themselves, the momentum rapidly spilled over into their day jobs.

“When we started doing these shows, we asked ‘How can we push the envelope and do what’s next?’ Then, it started taking up more of my time to the point where I needed to make a choice and figure out what’s next and how to execute what we were doing better,” says Cervantes.

After a few years, they realized the value in what they were creating, as well as the entrepreneurial opportunities.

“I remember my personal accountant telling me, ‘Hey man, you’re starting to make some real money with this, June 2024

you should probably set up an LLC and start reporting taxes.’ Up until then we were doing a show or party on a weekend, just here or there. At first, my mindset wasn’t really that this was a business, because I was still working for the construction company,” says Escalante.

But he remained drawn to the call.

“This was kind of like gambling: we’d throw parties and were just thinking about building a brand by throwing the coolest parties in town. We’d book these DJs and throw shows. I wasn’t really looking at the cost, the profits, or the expenses. There were a lot of times where we’d lose money on a show or get taken advantage of by certain bar owners who thought we were just young kids who wanted to have a party. It took us a while to be like, ‘This is a real business that we’re going to get serious about.’ Then we started to figure out ‘We can charge for this. We can make X amount of money. We’re older now, we can’t just get paid with free booze.’ What we were doing was creating value and we said ‘Alright, gotta get serious.’”

Thus, J&K Present, their entertainment and promotions agency, was established.

Together, the two combined their skills and formed a business centered on a lifestyle that’s come to produce premier entertainment in the Borderland from day parties and merch, to bar ventures and shows of all sizes.

In the realm of concrete and neon, J&K Present stands as an example of innovation, reshaping the nightlife (or day party) narrative one electrifying event at a time. What began as a serendipitous collision of personalities and aspirations has blossomed into an empire fueled by adrenaline and ambition. With Escalante’s entrepreneurial prowess and Cervantes’ artistic flair, they’ve curated a collage of experiences that defy convention and challenge the status quo.

“The best part of my job is I can think of an idea, put it into motion and execute and have people perceive it as something that they want to embrace,” says Cervantes. “I like creative avenues and expressing our creativity with shows and parties. If you look through our portfolio, what we’ve done is what we were into at the time. Whether we were creating spaces or pushing DJs, it’s a reflection of who we were and what we were into at the time.”

It’s a delicate balance that the duo manage with aplomb.

“What I bring to the table when we’re working on a room is ‘How do we do what’s next? And how do we stay timeless?’ I like to make it so that two to three years from now, the place is still designed correctly and feels good,” Cervantes adds. “Johnny is the type where, if I throw out an idea, the next day he’ll have four options about how to move forward. The ability to push things forward, make things happen, and bring them to fruition. He’s really good at asking ‘What are we going to do next?’ because he knows that’s how we’re going to get better.”

In addition to J&K Present, Escalante and Cervantes own hotspots Later, Later; Lost & Found, and Hush Hush that attract patrons from near and far. It’s not uncommon to see a line wrapped around the block to get into one of the bars on a Friday night.

It’s also not uncommon to run into J&K themselves, on the clock but also in the spotlight.

“It’s exciting and overwhelming to pull up to one of our spots on a Friday night. We’re from here, we’re local guys. We’re at our bars, we’re at our shows. We want to be able to cater to everything that’s going on, especially on nights that we have lines around the block, in order to function properly,” says Cervantes.

To do so requires patience, planning, and the discipline behind-the-scenes that makes it all look easy.

“The perception is that we show up on a Friday night and everything just comes together,” says Cervantes. “There’s a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes for not only us, but our entire team and our ability to curate and create events – these things don’t just come together.” Beyond the dazzling marquees and booming basslines, there are sleepless nights, bruised egos, and hard-fought victories. It’s a world where the line between dream and reality blurs, along with the division of personal and professional identities.

“People think that what we do is really fun –and it is – because it doesn’t feel like work but it still is. There’s still accounting, there’s still HR, there’s still legal,” Escalante explains. “I think a lot of people undermine how much work goes into it. We get comments like


It’s exciting and overwhelming to pull up to one of our spots on a Friday night. We’re from here, we’re local guys. We’re at our bars, we’re at our shows. We want to be able to cater to everything that’s going on, especially on nights that we have lines around the block, in order to function properly,”

‘You guys don’t work, it must be so nice.’ But we have six businesses that we’re running almost at all times.”

Fortunately, both have solid support systems – especially with the support of their siblings.

“My sister, Jessica, is four years older than me and was always the cool girl in my eyes. I have vivid memories of her being barely old enough to drive a car, she had a little Honda Civic,” Escalante recalls with a smile. “We’d turn the corner and she’d pull over to make me drive so she could finish her makeup. The ‘Hush Hush’ World of J&K 65

She was into Fiona Apple and Erykah Badu, so we’d listen to that in the car.”

As they grew up, Escalante grew to value the support of his cool older sister, who continues to root for and work with J&K.

“What I admire most about my brother is his generosity and sense of humor,” she says. “He shares his time and love without measure. People really like to be around him and I’ve always felt really proud of that.”

She adds that while she’s impressed by Escalante’s accomplishments, she’s not surprised.

“I knew from a young age that he would be successful,” she says. “He’s always had a special something: he’s smart, creative and fun. Everyone always sees the positive end results, but I’ve seen the setbacks and lows. It’s been the greatest satisfaction to see someone who I love so much grow and succeed time and time again.”

For Cervantes, his journey to success is also intertwined with the bond he shares with his sisters and parents.

“Being so close with my sisters and parents has given me the opportunity to be able to do things like this and that’s something that I don’t take for granted,” he says.

Like Escalante, Cervantes’ achievements are a source of pride for his siblings.

“I’m immensely proud of Kiki,” says his sister, Carla. “His creativity and vision is unique and whimsical, and he continues to amaze our family throughout his career. Every project tells a beautiful story, and he does an incredible job transforming ideas into reality. The attention to detail on design, diversification, marketing, and quality is what sets you apart.”

Behind the dazzling façade of packed venues and pulsating beats lies a world of meticulous planning and tireless dedication. “People might think that we’re just cruising and having a blast,” Escalante muses, “but it looks easy from the outside.” Beneath the surface, they juggle a myriad of responsibilities all while navigating the unpredictable currents of the entertainment industry.

Their success is not just measured in Instagram likes and sold-out shows, but also in the resilience forged through countless setbacks and late-night brainstorming sessions. “It’s not a 9 to 5,” Cervantes explains, “even when you’re off, you’re thinking about work, checking emails, and things like that.”

Today, their collaboration is a symphony of contrasts: Escalane, the assertive risk-taker, and Cervantes, the visionary tastemaker. “He’s the one who leads us

in the right direction,” Escalante reflects, acknowledging Kiki’s creative prowess. Together, they straddle the delicate balance between innovation and timelessness, constantly probing the boundaries of El Paso’s cultural landscape.

While simultaneously in the limelight, behind the scenes, and ahead of the curve, Escalante and Cervantes serve as the masterminds and faces of J&K Present, few have had the opportunity to step inside the inner workings of their universe.

As they reflect on their journey from impromptu parties to lifestyle moguls, Escalante and Cervantes remain grounded in their commitment to community and creativity. “We turned a hobby into a lifestyle,” says Cervantes.

The lifestyle – like J&K – are evolving, all at once out loud but also “Hush Hush.” 67 June 2024
The ‘Hush Hush’ World of J&K


June 2024 70

Let’s face it, men enjoy results, too!

Women, we appreciate our self-maintenance, don’t we? We take pride in our skincare, our anti-aging regimens, body contouring, and more. Women also tend to be more open to talking about nip-tuck procedures and injection appointments.

Most of the time men don’t understand why we do what we do, but they are certainly intrigued by it.

being said, it still tends to be more hushhush, given the assumption that medical aesthetics are more of a “feminine route.”

Do you ever feel hesitant about asking questions or scheduling a consultation? You want the results but are unsure about taking the next step…

Let’s be honest: Feeling attractive is not vanity.

yourself in the mirror. What is it that you are determined to change?

Imagine your end goal. Discuss your intended results. Commit to taking action

Experience the confidence you crave!

• Eye Rejuvenation (Blepharoplasty)

• Upper Blepharoplasty corrects loose skin on your upper eyelid

• Lower blepharoplasty is the removal of undereye bags / excess skin


I want to assure you that it’s completely normal to want to look your best. I’m confident that there is a procedure for every concern you have regarding your physical appearance.

It’s crucial to remember that this is about more than just your body – it’s also your health.

• Neck Lift (Lower rhytidectomy) emoves loose skin around neck and jawline due to loss of elasticity from aging or weight loss Included possible considerations are contouring, sculpting, and skin tightening under the chin (if you are a candidate)

• Male Breast Reduction (Gynecomastia Surgery) reduces the size of the breast tissue




Okay ladies, please pass the magazine over. Gentlemen, this one’s for you.

As of 2024, plastic surgery has significantly increased in popularity for men. That

So, when “shopping around” for a medical professional, they should be a plastic surgeon who is:

• Qualified

• Highly trained

• Board-certified

From there, they will be able to provide you with an assessment based on their expertise and determine whether you’re a candidate for the procedures.

I’ve provided a few body enhancement procedures that can help you reverse the effects of time.

Whether you desire subtle changes or more a dramatic transformation (with the approval of your surgeon), do what makes YOU happy.

I want to remind you that there is no need to feel uncomfortable discussing your concerns with a surgeon. The list I’ve included are procedures that are also extremely common for men. As you read through each, I encourage you to look at

• Liposuction, which slims and reshapes by removing unwanted fat in areas such as: abdomen, waistline and/or back

Of course, there are less invasive aesthetic treatments (such as injections), but the ones I’ve discussed provide permanent results upon appropriate diet and exercise post healing time.

Remember, everybody is unique, and everyone has their own insecurities and improvement goals. Therefore, it’s crucial to have in-depth communication with your doctor, especially when considering a cosmetic procedure like the one mentioned above.

Men, you too can embrace self-care with confidence!

The medical “beauty treatments” that once piqued your curiosity are not exclusive to the women in your life – they are beneficial for everyone.

Including you! 71 June 2024
72 June 2024

Enter the Age of

Vanity G

rowing up, glam architect

Vander Vanity often dreamed of building reallife dolls. From customizing makeup looks to building concept celebrity eras, he aspired to live up to a life filled with endless beauty.

Deciding to become part of the beauty industry at 18 years old, Vanity started building his self-taught technique behind the counters of MAC Cosmetics. Vanity said this opportunity allowed him to dip his toes inside the makeup industry.

Throughout his five years, he began to build skills that allowed him to feel comfortable with makeup and learn more thoroughly about different products.

“It was my first opportunity where I was thrown into the world of makeup,” Vanity said. “I used to be at the mall doing makeup, selling makeup, so I was able to really play around with it and discover more about it.”

Vanity mentioned that once his work at MAC began to gain recognition, it shifted his perspective on his career.

“I was getting a little bit more respect,” Vanity said. “The word kind of spread around that there is this makeup artist at MAC who’s really good, so I would get a lot of people trying to get their makeup done by me.” 73

As time flew, his art needed a bigger spotlight.

“I just felt like I wanted more, I didn’t want to be behind the counter anymore. I felt my brain wasn’t being stimulated anymore by just having a regular 9 to 5,” Vanity said.

Vanity decided to quit working behind the counter and build his own brand. The decision to leave MAC was not easy because he had no other resources, but Vanity said it was a test to prove his capabilities to himself.

“When I quit MAC, it was one of the scariest career decisions,” Vanity said. “I thought it was going to take me to the top because it has happened for a lot of artists. When I quit, the scariest thing was I had to really look for jobs.”

His journey as a solo makeup artist kick-started with a mix of paid and free work, but Vanity understood it was part of the risk as an artist, and it was about putting his face and name out there.

“It was a huge struggle for me in the beginning, I would fake it till I made it,” Vander said. “I would take the bus with all my makeup bags just to go to a client’s house.”

Once he built confidence in his work, Vanity decided to take a leap and aim for his dream of working with music artists. With a little help from social media, he found the person who changed the trajectory of his career forever: local rapper, singer, and actor Krystall Poppin.

“In 2018, I saw her for the first time on social media and I remember watching one of her music videos, and I was like ‘Snap! This girl is from El Paso, that’s pretty cool.’ Because, back then, people didn’t really express themselves in that way,’” Vanity said. “Immediately, I was like I want to do her makeup.”

He messaged Poppin through Instagram to offer his glam skills, and at first the rapper rejected him.

Another opportunity presented itself when Poppin booked the opening slot for Cardi B’s concert in 2019. Vanity said he messaged her again, congratulating her on booking the show, and proceeded to curiously talk to her about the team she would have by her side for the performance.

He described this early era of Poppin’s career, where her image was a more relaxed, chill tomboy – and she did not have a glam artist. Vanity then took his shot, as he told her that since she was opening for a widely recognized artist, she needed to look and feel good on stage.

“She was like, ‘Come to the studio right now, glam me up in front of my team so that we can test something,”

June 2024

Vanity said. “I went there in 20 minutes. I packed my bag, made sure everything was clean and perfect.”

He booked the job, but it fell through when Cardi B canceled the show that same year. Regardless of the outcome, Poppin took a liking to his work and decided to keep him as part of her team.

Since then, Vander has transformed her image to be as out-of-this-world as the triple threat herself.

“I think she had the talent and her team killed it, but what was missing was the visual star quality,” Vanity said. “That’s where I came in and told her, ‘We need to make you look like an alien, you cannot look like the person next to you, people want to see something interesting on stage.’”

In 2021, Vanity transitioned from just doing glam to becoming the most crucial role in fully styling Poppin.

His work with the artist has navigated through different eras, from following trends such as oversized street style with joggers and sneakers to a dark feminine edge that involves edgy pieces with lace, corsets, and platforms. Vanity says the base of each era is her new sound and music.

“I think me coming in with the glam and the outfits and the hair, is not the only thing shifting the look,” Vanity said. “She shows me new music and a new direction, so it’s my job to turn her new sound into the new era.”

Vanity’s goal is to elevate every look Poppin has, which mainly involves hunting for items that people do not see anymore. He turns for inspiration to Balmain’s creative director, Olivier Rousteing, and image architect Law Roach.

The work ethic and creative freedom Vanity has constructed opened horizons that have transitioned his career into an independent stylist and glam architect. He said being part of Poppin’s team has led him to gain

opportunities to work with other female artists, such as rappers Bia, Jenny69, and Reverie.

“It’s little opportunities just by being in the room, people watch you and see your work, and then get other jobs because of that job,” Vanity said. “I meet more people and then more photographers and more models.”

Even though Vanity has been building a network outside of the Sun City, he plans to leave a mark within the local community by opening an institution that provides indepth education on makeup styling.

“I want to stay in the city and open up the very first makeup school in southwest Texas,” Vanity said.

Part of his motivation is rooted in the makeup community the city of Los Angeles has built.

Vanity mentions that creating a space that dedicates itself to makeup artistry will help pave the way for people who want to be part of the beauty industry.

“I’ve done a lot and learned a lot with my career so far,” Vanity said. “I feel there’s a meaning behind it, and I think doing this makeup school and advocating for creators in the 915 area will fulfill a different part.”

He plans on building a course that teaches artists techniques, how to discover themselves, the ways of industry, and networking.

“I was held back so much because I didn’t have a lot of support growing up, and all I wanted to do was create,” Vanity said. “I know I can change kids’ lives by allowing them to creatively express themselves, it means a lot more than just opening another makeup school.”

Besides advocating for education, Vanity hopes to keep expanding his beauty brand and work with other established celebrities such as Sexxy Red, Kendall Jenner, and Zendaya.

June 2024
Enter the Age of Vanity and Operated Since 1948 Go to and find your nearest location today El Paso Owned

Y Uncorking the Perfect First Date with Wine!

ou find yourself on a first date that has been long in the planning. Over numerous phone calls and texts, you know you both appreciate wine, but have not discussed WHAT wines – even the topic of preference of red over white. The topic has only been “I am sipping a glass of vino while we talk on the phone”. You never bothered to ask what varieties or styles of wine they like, but of course you have said you know wines trying to impress them on the phone.

Now here you are, at your first in person date, meeting at a nice restaurant with an extensive wine list, the usual introductory awkwardness and now they hand you the wine list and simply say, “You are the expert – you pick”!

Do you guess and run the risk of guessing wrong? Do you impress

by showing your wine acumen and spend 80% of your budget for the month on that featured bottle? Do you ask your date what they prefer, and sound unsure of your professed wine acumen?

Hopefully some basic suggestions will get you over this dilemma and your wine skills will be evident but not pompous.

First and foremost, keep it simple.

Avoid the temptation to impress by immediately ordering from the “Reserve List.” Instead, simply ask your date “do you prefer whites or reds?” A great starting point, and a question that does not give away your anxiety. If the menu selections have not begun, perhaps suggest starting with a nice glass of sparkling wine while your date peruses the menu and you slowly panic over the prices on the wine list. June 2024 76

A California or Oregon sparkling wine will buy you much needed time while menu selections are made. A sparkling Rose always works. Avoid the yeasty and expensive French Champagnes, saving the money for a better meal wine instead.

Once you have a clue as to what menu items your date is considering, call over the sommelier and while pointing to a “price range” you can afford on the wine list (out of your date’s view of course) say, “I would like to consider something from “this region,” and ask the sommelier for wine suggestions that go well with the menu items selected. If you get the dreaded, “The wine the director is not here tonight,” or “We don’t have a sommelier,” then take a leap with the following suggestions.

(Also, avoid the obvious recommendations that are overstocked and too well known, like Prisoner or Meomi.)

My pick in such a situation, Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir goes great with many foods that pair with both red and white wines. Pork, pasta, chicken, veal and salmon always do well with this wine varietal. Avoid an overblown red like a single vineyard Cabernet unless of course you both just ordered lamb or steak. Even then, until you know for sure one’s wine preferences, a high alcohol Cabernet can overwhelm. Try a red blended Meritage, for example instead.

If salads are being ordered as the main course, then go straight to a Rose from France. If your date has a preference for white wine, and white wine matches the food selection, a Sancerre from France will show your depth of knowledge, or a Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand always impresses, and has a broad appeal as it is lighter than mostChardonnays. If your date has stated a preference for Chardonnay, then look for a nice Chardonnay from the Russian River appellation of California. While generally

fruitier and oaky, it always pleases the broad palate of most Chardonnay drinkers. A Merry Edwards, Matthiason, or Kistler if you can afford it, will do well with most Chardonnay drinkers.

Never let the wine outshine your date! Avoid complementing the wine you chose instead of your date!

Lastly, probably best to avoid dessert wines.

Heavy, viscous and sweet, they generally are better if served AS the dessert, not paired with one. A glass of Canadian “Vidal Inniskillin” is a dessert in itself, but seldom is available. Simply avoid the temptation to try and pair caramel or chocolate dessert with a light dessert wine. Save the port for the fireplace and comfy chairs. Not the crowded and noisy restaurant.

Good luck and Happy choices. So many wines and so little time!

June 2024

The Sun City Whiskey Club QUANTITY I

t’s Saturday evening, and whether you are meeting up with friends later or wanting to spend the night alone, you find yourself inside a store. You make your way to the whiskey aisle because it was too long of a week to settle for beer. Now you find yourself in a predicament. With so many shades of amber or mahogany gleaming through the glass bottles, which one is worth getting? Unless you have experience, the choices turn into gambles.

Luckily, there is a source for just that information, The Sun City Whiskey Club.

Two years ago, current president Robert “Rob” O’Donnell was enjoying his wellearned retirement from the military when he was presented with the opportunity to create this club by his close friend Joe Huerta, who was also the owner of Speakeasy Liquor. The idea certainly had Rob’s attention since

June 2024 78

he not only had a deep appreciation for whiskey, but also because his father had their own distribution warehouse in Michigan called “Fountain Beverage Distribution.”

SCWC started out as a small group of friends getting together every now and then to try a rare bottle that was found. Now, the SCWC has grown into a formalized club with their own logo that hosts formal tastings every three months or unless treasure is found. On average, 20 to 25 members attend these tastings, where the SCWC can try around five different whiskies that are also paired with a specific spread of food.

Even after Huerta’s passing, Rob kept the club running forward with the close-knit group of members. “We wanted everyone to get along, everybody to trust everybody,” says O’Donnell. “We were going for quality instead of quantity.”

Stemming from all walks of life such as military, law enforcement, local business owners, the SCWC prides itself on being a responsible club that watches out for the safety and wellbeing of all of their members and guests.

For those who are not able to make the tastings, they are still able to review the notes and information from the SCWC’s Facebook page.

O’Donnell describes the whiskey tasting process like a fun puzzle where everyone tries to solve the flavor.

Each person has a journal and shares their ideas regarding what they are tasting. Then, at the end of a typical meeting, everyone present will come to a consensus, and O’Donnell will share the flavor findings on their Facebook page. This is a shared option because no one’s opinion is more valuable than another.

“Before you go out and spend that money, you know what you’re getting into,” says one of the SCWC’s members. “This helps us go

beyond the label you see on the shelves. It’s like an affordable version of high class.”

They extend that goodwill outside of their club through their Whiskey Dinners and fundraisers.

The last Whiskey Dinner the SCWC hosted started at the distillery, New Riff. With more than 100 people in attendance, the club worked with the locally owned Forti’s restaurant to pair a course of a meal with the different whiskies the New Riff representative would be bringing.

“Everyone gets to try them and that’s the key,” explains O’Donnell. “Not everyone would like them, but they still get a great dinner, and the distiller gets to market here. It’s a win-win for everyone.” The turn out for the Whiskey Dinner was so positive that the SCWC is already planning the next dinners for October, where they will host the Garrison Brothers and the Penelope distilleries.

Wanting to also support El Paso, the SCWC has begun fundraising for local organizations. Their recent fundraiser was for the El Paso Animal Rescue League where they reached out to those who would purchase an ounce of a rare Woodford Reserve Baccarat bottle. Securing thousands of dollars, all the proceeds went to the Animal League because the funding for the SCWC is the group itself with every member contributing in any way they can. “Everybody helps each other out,” says O’Donnell.

With the high success rate of the last few events, distillers are calling the SCWC to be a part of the festivities and be the star of the next function.

When asked how he can keep track of all of these moving pieces, O’Donnell says, “It’s not hard since meeting people is the best part of this club. The hard part is keeping up with showing my gratitude.”

With the rate of success, distributors, managers of restaurants, and other liquor store owners have become members of the SCWC.

With so much success in such a short period of time, the SCWC is already moving forward with their next steps. Between the managing of events and keeping a sharp eye for any new whiskey, O’Donnell and the club will be opening a liquor store of their own on Doniphan this summer called, Sun City Spirits and Cigars.

Even with this new store opening, the club has no intention of slowing down. They will always be welcoming new members to join: either at events, or even in the store aisle, when the same amber bottle of whiskey catches the eye.

Then, when those new members come to their first meeting, after walking pass the stuffed Javelina at the door and the wide wooden tables held up by emptied whiskey barrels with names like “WhistlePig, New Riff, and Heaven’s Door” branded on the side, they will be getting the most out of the tasting phenomenon with a few taught tricks from the club:

1. Before you take a drink, inhale the aroma of the whiskey. You can even taste the aroma if you open your mouth slightly with each breath.

2. Then it’s time for the first sip. For the inexperienced palette, the best technique is to hold the whiskey on your tongue for a few seconds. This will open up the taste buds and burn away any false notions or ideas your expectations might still have.

With O’Donnell at every meeting, he will remind you, “Do it to enjoy it, not to impress.” Then on the second sip going forward, there is no more burn only flavor. If that is what you learn and enjoy during your first meeting, imagine what you could experience next time.

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I wanted this place to feel like you’re walking through a friend’s house. You want to sit down, listen to good music, have good wine, and just enjoy.
82 June 2024

Bon Appétit atAcca

Anondescript building with a close proximity to downtown is sparking curiosity and whetting appetites across the community. Nestled within its walls is not just a restaurant but a chronicle of Chef Andres Pablos’ adventures, passions, and relentless pursuit of flavor. The restaurant is called Acca, and its mission is simple: to serve modern comfort food via “a cuisine crafted amorously.”

For Chef Pablos, Acca is more than just a dining establishment; it’s a manifestation of a dream that ignited in 2020 when he stumbled upon the space and felt an inexplicable connection. With a gut feeling guiding him, he rolled up his sleeves and dove into the world of construction, crafting the restaurant with his own hands. This hands-on approach wasn’t just about building walls; it was also about creating an intimate haven where every corner whispers tales of his culinary journey.

“I wanted this place to feel like you’re walking through a friend’s house,” Chef Pablos shares. “You want to sit down, listen to good music, have good wine, and just enjoy.”

The journey to Acca wasn’t paved with ease. Chef Pablos admits to a steep learning curve, mastering tools and carpentry on the spot. Yet, the challenges were met with rewards as the final result emerged—a space where patrons don’t just dine but feel a sense of closeness, a shared experience woven into every dish.

“It’s pretty rewarding to see the final result and how people react to it. Whenever people walk through the doors, they feel a certain vibe. We emphasize with the feeling of just being close,” he says.

With a culinary journey spanning more than 12 years, Chef Pablos’ expertise is as diverse as the flavors he serves.

From the bustling kitchens of central Mexico to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, his path meandered through Spain, Denmark, Chicago, and Italy. Each stop added layers of knowledge and inspiration, shaping his vision of what Acca would become.

The menu at Acca is a testament to Chef Pablos’ philosophy – accessible yet exquisite, comforting yet refined. From a spicy fried chicken sandwich to meticulously crafted Mille Feuille, each dish is a canvas painted with flavors honed from years of exploration and experimentation.

“Mille Feuille is a really special dish,” Chef Pablos explains of the decadent dessert. “It’s a little bit of everything into one bite. Sweet, savory, with layers of texture and flavor.”

But beyond the culinary delights, Acca stands out for its open kitchen, where the chefs are as much a part of the show as the dishes they create. Here, the barrier between kitchen and dining room dissolves, fostering a sense of connection between the creators and the connoisseurs.

“We wanted to steer away from being a high end or like a snobby restaurant, we just wanted to be laidback with good food,” says Chef Pablos. “What we offer is a really good burger, really well made pasta, steak, fresh fish, things like that. They might look simple, but you know there’s a lot of process and a lot of technique.”

501 Texas Ave. El Paso, TX 79901 915.588.2287 shoppineapplevintage Shop Vintage and Visit Us! Stand Tall, Wear A Crown, Stay Sweet. Stand Tall, Wear A Crown, Stay Sweet.

Olive & Poppy

84 June 2024 Inside Italian Delights at

Brian Aguirre remembers the excitement he felt when watching his mother cook as a young boy. The sounds of kitchen appliances and the joy he felt while eating his mom’s cooking all started what would later become a long and rewarding journey in the culinary arts.

When his grandma would take him to the library, Aguirre would go to the cookbook section and read about all things culinary, especially the baking recipes. As he grew, so did his curiosity in baking.

During his time at Chapin High School, Aguirre took culinary classes and met his future fiancee Kevin Martinez, 25, all before graduating in 2017. Soon after, he enrolled at EPCC to pursue a degree in business before getting his bachelor’s from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. While in school, Aguirre embarked on many journeys to get a taste for his talent.

Martinez shared what he and Aguirre experienced before diving into their latest venture.

“We went to a restaurant in L.A., called Osteria Mozza, where we first got a real taste of Italian food,” Martinez said. “After that, we got cookbooks galore and we started getting into cooking recipes, books, pastries and everything.”

One such recipe that got Aguirre hooked on Italian baking was one for olive oil cake, which he remembers and bakes to this day.

“We tried an olive oil cake recipe a few years back and we just fell in love with it,” Aguirre said. “So I just started testing new stuff with it and just making it my own.”

The two also traveled to Italy, once in 2020 and a second time in 2021. There, they got to experience Italian cooking and baking firsthand, bringing back what they learned to share with the El Paso community.

“My favorite part was definitely trying out new foods and desserts to bring back to El Paso for everybody to try,” Aguirre said.

Upon his return, Aguirre decided to try out the recipes he got from his cookbooks and vacations.

an Instagram account for the business in September and since then the page has garnered almost a thousand followers.

“I was maybe like 20 [when] social media took off and I started learning how to get more followers, how to get more interaction,” Martinez said. “I knew all about hashtags, about how to target a certain audience.”

From panna cotta to cannolis, Aguirre kept true to the recipes of authentic Italian desserts to share with his community in the form of his new bakery, Olive & Poppy.

Named for their two sheepdogs, Aguirre and Martinez aim to make a unique mark in El Paso’s culinary scene. To do that, he wishes to highlight the authenticity of the food he makes and – more importantly – to delight the customers they serve.

“I wasn’t really sure before, but I knew I wanted to own my own business and just bring something to the community,” Aguirre said. “Just seeing the joy on people’s faces, getting little reviews, and them telling their friends about it. Even having people with an Italian background who fall in love with the desserts because they can’t really find that sort of thing here.”

To get the word about Olive & Poppy out to the people, Aguirre and Martinez have been using social media and their own website to do so. The owners first launched

Driven by determination, Aguirre hopes to expand the business. With that said, the owners have begun imagining how to get to a new storefront and even expanding outside of the city limits.

But first, they would like to start out in stands before opening their own store.

“This year we definitely want to start in the farmers’ markets. We know the upper valley one is really popular and you can find a lot of niche types there,” Aguirre said. “I just want to stand out there and [get] the recognition that they see in person versus a quick pick up or delivery.”

“I have clients who order from the bakery and they’d be like ‘My mom is Italian, she loved it.’ We definitely want to leave a unique mark. We want to make our own trends, which is what we’ve been doing.”

In the future, Aguirre and Martinez hope to have a space for Olive & Poppy.

The two envision a relaxed cafe with “darker earth tones’’ as Martinez said. They also hope to add coffee to their future menu once they do get a store and possibly sooner. For now, their main goal is to keep customers happy and maintain Olive & Poppy’s reputation as an authentic Italian bakery.

“I think we have some good plans and the biggest payoff is definitely seeing the customers happier,” Aguirre said. “Just seeing the customers happy, the smile on their faces, the reviews or the messages.”

June 2024 85

A Trike with a


On the small street of 2430

Wyoming Ave sits a black metal fence with an intricately painted white snake weaving itself across the metal. Upon closer inspection, one can see that at the tail of the serpent is a sliding door bearing the words “Coffee and Records,” welcoming visitors into a hidden lot dressed with picnic tables, a small trailer, and an open stage. Playing host to this space is a single-story building with the logo for Café con Leche on the door.

The owner of this comfortable little spot is Julio Mena, a musician who’s taken his history with the world of coffee and cultivated an experience that puts popular large chains to shame.

Mena’s journey in the coffee industry began in 2005, when he was hired at his local Starbucks.

“Whenever I was studying and working in music, I was usually doing part time work at local coffee shops. I started liking it because it not only worked with my schedule, but it offered me the opportunity to learn more about the world of coffee,” he says.

Throughout his 20-year career in the music industry, Mena was never truly far from a coffee experience. Whether it be working local shops stateside as he booked gigs or traveling abroad performing, Mena would seek out opportunities that allowed him to expand his coffee knowledge.

“I traveled with cruise ships, which granted me the opportunity to experience a variety of coffee shops around the world. I’ve received a lot of inspiration and have incorporated a lot of what I’d seen into the shop. For example, we pair vinyl records with coffee, which was something that I saw in coffee shops in Norway. One of my favorite shops in Norway incorporated that style with beer. I could point at anything within the store and tell you what inspired it. Another example is the roaster that we have

in the shop. This was something that I first saw when I was in Puerto Rico. They had a roaster at a shop there and I thought it was cool for people to see the roasting process in-shop. Our shop takes more of a European approach, which is why we introduced beer and wine to our menu last December. Now you can come to Café con Leche to start your day with a cup of coffee and close it out with a glass of wine or beer.”

This fusion of cultures with coffee is one of the details within Café con Leche that has kept people opening its doors locally and out of the city.

However, this success was not easily achieved.

As with many aspiring business owners, Mena was faced with the struggle of capital and establishing himself within a city that tends to see many of its coffee drinkers turning towards large chains.

Enter the Café con Leche tricycle.

86 June 2024

Now paid homage on the Café con Leche logo, this little trike was Mena’s financial solution and introduction to the El Paso market as its sole bike-peddled coffee provider. Retrofitted to dispense nitrogen-infused cold brew, Mena obtained a mobile permit with the city and became a fast staple throughout downtown. He also rode around at local pop-ups and markets as he sold coffee to the public.

But, Mena would find himself having to adapt his business style in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic made its way across the globe, as in-person engagement found itself coming to a near halt.

The pandemic environment required innovation for businesses to survive, and Café con Leche was one such business that rose to the challenge.

“During the pandemic, we actually started canning our cold brew coffee and at the time I’d been doing UberEats in order to keep a steady income. We sold our canned products online, so whenever I was out doing deliveries and someone had ordered a cold brew I would also be delivering those cans to customers throughout the work day. Now we have some of our products sold in Whole Foods,” Mena shares.

“I started interacting with Whole Foods and I discovered that to get your product in stores you’d need a lot of capital for Whole Foods liability insurance.


Fortunately it worked out, and we’ve been able to be with Whole Foods for about three years now. I hope to build out more with this aspect of the business to try and get more of our product in various stores. Two of our customers have helped me with that aspect of the business, and we’re looking to see if we can expand the brand further.”

Mena shares that should the business have opportunities to expand further, he intends to invest in a space whose sole focus is the extension of product production primarily for in-store distribution and, in doing so, expanding the Café con Leche brand to other companies besides Whole Foods.

Since its inception, Café con Leche has been

a trike with a dream

“I feel like the coffee from Mexico tends to be overlooked by a large portion of the coffee brewing world. They grow great coffee, and I feel that by purchasing and roasting that coffee not only makes sense for me business-wise but also allows the beans grown in Mexico the chance to shine,” Mena explained.

For about three years, Mena has been roasting the beans he sells in the shop, and in doing so, the space has not just been given an attractive visual appeal but also a personalized touch as visitors can see firsthand just how the bean is transformed into the flavorful beverage within their cup.

In addition to their in-house beverages, Mena currently sells two types of beans that use different methods of preparation: the wash method and the red honey process.

With the traditional wash method, the bean is plucked from the cherry and washed with water to remove mucilage before drying. The red honey process, however, is a method that came about as a means of water conservation. The technique takes the de-pulped cherry and utilizes the sun

to dry and naturally remove any unwanted organic matter. These techniques produce distinct flavors unique to their preparation method, creating a unique brew for an array of coffee connoisseurs.

Mena is an individual who puts his all into everything that he chooses to do, and Café con Leche is no exception.

With in-house roasted beans and crafted syrups, one can see the effort Mena has put into a budding passion that has now sprouted and taken on a life of its own.

One beverage unique to Café con Leche that one wouldn’t typically see in large chains is their Café de Olla. This beverage is a marriage of the traditional method with specialty coffee preparation.

Rather than throwing the spices in a batch with the coffee itself as with the conventional method, the Café con Leche team produces a simple syrup combining the blend of spices, allowing the distinct flavors to be recreated within any beverage, whether it be a simple coffee or a custom latte.

June 2024

As the business has found itself in its third evolution and gaining stability, Mena has started to take some time for his family while opening himself up to new hobbies such as golfing; one might even spot a favorite Café con Leche design engraved on his clubs.

When asked if he might like to share anything with our readers, Mena said, “Try to be a little open to something different and give local businesses a chance. We know that many people have grown accustomed to large chain styles, but local shops have their unique charms. Please remember that reviews that wouldn’t typically make a dent in a massive chain like Starbucks could ruin a local shop. We, Local shops, might not be for everybody, but I think we offer something different. In the case of Café con Leche, I think that most of those who have given us the chance have enjoyed their experiences.”
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The Blessings Counts SportS Scorer The who HIS WHO HIS

June 2024 92
| By: ERIN COULEHAN photos courtesy of: EDWARD MORELOS |

IIn the world of sports, where every moment counts and every victory is hard-earned, there are individuals whose dedication and passion transcend the boundaries of the game. Among them stands Edward Morelos, a beacon of resilience and redemption whose journey from adversity to success embodies the true spirit of sportsmanship. Despite facing formidable obstacles, including a tumultuous past and a felony conviction, Morelos refused to be defined by his circumstances. Instead, he embraced the world of sports journalism, using his platform to uplift others and celebrate the achievements of local athletes and teams.

Through his podcast, “Sports-N-More Podcast,” Morelos has become a voice of inspiration, amplifying the stories of his community and fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among sports enthusiasts.

“I have more than 215 episodes, and the podcast was started in 2020,” he says. “I love supporting locals, especially the kiddos.”

An example of outreach done through the Sports-N-More Podcast is the recent “Covering Kindness” outreach as donations of bucket hats, water and

sunscreen were gathered. Morelos and a few friends went out into the streets to distribute to the homeless in the Borderland area. Before that, Morelos, through the Sports-N-More Podcast, also hosted the “New Year, New Underwear” Outreach as donations of socks, t-shirts and underwear were collected and handed out to the homeless.

As the Director of Media Relations for the Sun Bowl Association, his responsibilities extend far beyond the confines of a single role. From orchestrating media coverage for events like the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl and the Thanksgiving Day Parade to managing social media campaigns and crafting publications, Morelos is a driving force behind the organization’s outreach efforts.

“I also lead the charge with all of our social media and bring in a cohort of interns every semester, who take over but with my guidance. Together, we help inform the public about what the Sun Bowl Association has going on.”

The ethos to put students and community first came after Morelos was given a second chance in his early 20s upon being ensnared in the dangerous web of methamphetamine using and dealing, a path fraught with peril and uncertainty. Yet, amid 93

the chaos and turmoil of his surroundings, Morelos clung to hope and a belief that redemption was possible, even in the darkest of times.

“I’ll be honest,” he says. ‘I wanted to be a teacher and a coach but I got in trouble.”

He was sentenced to six years prison time, but the judge chose a more lenient route.

“The judge said, ‘I’m going to suspend those six years and give you five years probation,’” Morelos recalls. “I was lucky that I didn’t have any prison time, and I also stopped drinking.”

Today, Morelos is proud of his more than 20 years of sobriety.

With unwavering resolve, he took the first tentative steps towards rehabilitation, seeking refuge in the world of academics and sports, a realm of discipline, teamwork, and camaraderie.

“I went to New Mexico State University to study journalism, and my mentor, Dr. Sean McCleneghan said, ‘Eddie, you need to go and talk to people in the media relations office in the athletic department.”

Morelos had never heard of media relations, but took the suggestion and landed an internship that launched the trajectory of his career.

As an intern, he immersed himself in the intricacies of the sports industry, embracing every opportunity to learn and grow. From men’s basketball to football, women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball, he immersed himself in every aspect of the game, channeling his passion and dedication into a newfound sense of purpose. “I started learning little things,” he recalls, reflecting on his journey of self-discovery. “Little by little, I was learning – and I was enjoying it.”

His journey into the world of statistics began with humble beginnings, learning the ropes of data input and analysis through handson experience. Over time, he honed his skills, becoming a vital asset to the sports community in El Paso and Las Cruces. His involvement with New Mexico State University’s basketball programs further solidified his expertise, as he meticulously records live game statistics, contributing to the comprehensive coverage of collegiate athletics.

Morelos remained steadfast in his commitment to personal and professional growth.

Amidst the challenges of the 2008 recession, he persevered, seizing every opportunity to expand his skill set and broaden his horizons. From New Mexico State’s men’s basketball to football, women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball, Morelos embraced each new role with an unwavering sense of

purpose, leaving an indelible mark on those he encountered along the way.

His dedication did not go unnoticed.

Through hard work and perseverance, he ascended the ranks, earning a full-time position within the sports industry – at the Sun Bowl Association – an opportunity that seemed unimaginable in the depths of his darkest days.

With his predecessor leaving the role, one phone call (and offer) created a once-in-alifetime.

“That job was meant to be,” he reflects, acknowledging the miraculous circumstances that led to his success.

Morelos wears multiple hats, including his role as the Field Time Coordinator and Official Scorer for the El Paso Chihuahuas, where he ensures the smooth operation of baseball games.

The roles of Field Time Coordinator and Official Scorer in baseball are both crucial to the smooth operation and accurate recording of events during a game. Each position carries specific responsibilities that contribute to the integrity of the sport and the fairness of competition – big jobs with a lot of responsibility and little room for error.


The Field Time Coordinator is responsible for managing the game clock, ensuring that it runs smoothly and accurately throughout the duration of the game. This includes starting and stopping the clock as needed, coordinating with umpires to maintain proper game flow, and making adjustments as necessary to keep the game on schedule. The Field Time Coordinator plays a key role in maintaining the pace of play, which is essential for the overall enjoyment of the game by players, coaches, and spectators alike.

Additionally, the Field Time Coordinator serves as a liaison between the officiating crew and the game officials, relaying important information and ensuring that all parties are on the same page regarding timing and scheduling. This communication is vital for maintaining order and clarity on the field, particularly during fast-paced and high-stakes moments in the game.

On the other hand, the Official Scorer is responsible for accurately recording and documenting all the statistical events that occur during the game. This includes tracking hits, errors, runs, RBIs (Runs Batted In), strikeouts, walks, and other key metrics that contribute to the outcome of the game. The Official Scorer’s role is essential for providing an accurate and comprehensive record of the game’s events, which serves as a valuable resource for players, coaches, scouts, and fans alike.

The Official Scorer must possess a keen eye for detail and a thorough understanding

of the rules and conventions of baseball. They must also make quick and accurate judgments about each play, determining whether a hit should be scored as a single, double, triple, or home run, or whether an error should be charged to a fielder. These decisions can have a significant impact on a player’s statistics and, by extension, their career trajectory and earning potential.

Moreover, the Official Scorer’s role extends beyond simply recording statistics; they also play a role in ensuring the fairness and integrity of the game. By accurately documenting each play and applying the rules consistently and impartially, the Official Scorer helps to maintain a level playing field for all teams and players.

Morelo’s dedication to accuracy and precision in this role underscores his commitment to excellence, despite the inherent pressures and demands of the job.

His journey is not defined solely by his professional accomplishments. It is also marked by his unwavering commitment to giving back to the community that supported him on his path to redemption. Whether through mentoring at-risk youth or volunteering at local outreach programs, he seeks to pay forward the kindness and compassion that have been bestowed upon him.

As with his professional duties in the sports industry, timing is everything.

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Ingenuity and academics are at their finest at the University of Texas at El Paso, where three faculty members were recently named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors’ class of 2024.

UTEP professors Marc Cox, Ph.D.; Eric Freudenthal, Ph.D.; and Raymond C. Rumpf, Ph.D. are among 124 fellow academic inventors around the globe who the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) states “have demonstrated

remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.”

According to the NAI, the 2024 Class of NAI Senior Members is the organization’s largest to date and is composed of individuals from 60 NAI member institutions across the country. Collectively, the newest class of Senior Members are named inventors on over 1,000 U.S. patents with

344 of those being licensed technologies and commercialized products.

“This year’s class of Senior Members is truly a testament to the outstanding innovation happening at NAI Member Institutions and what happens when the academic space encourages and celebrates invention and commercialization,” said Paul R. Sanberg, President of NAI. “We are proud to welcome these outstanding academic inventors to June 2024 96

the Academy and look forward to supporting and celebrating them as they continue in their innovation journeys.”

Dr. Cox is an associate professor of biological sciences and the chair of pharmaceutical sciences at UTEP’s School of Pharmacy and renowned for his research on breast and prostate cancer, the latter of which has contributed to the development of a new class of drugs for castration-resistant prostate cancer treatment. In 2016, he was named Texas Inventor of the Year by the State Bar of Texas’ Intellectual Property Law Section, and continues to lead innovation and change lives.

“This recognition demonstrates UTEP’s commitment to advancing discovery of public value and brings national attention to the many technologies being developed at UTEP with the potential to impact the health, culture, education, and economy in the region,” said Cox. “I am honored to be named to the 2024 Class of NAI Senior Members, and I am looking forward to using this platform to continue to advocate for intellectual property protection and entrepreneurship on campus and in the region.”

Dr. Freudenthal is an associate professor of computer science and member of UTEP’s biomedical engineering faculty whose research interests have led to multiple intonation enhancement patents. Intonation enhancement is a new form of immersive augmented reality designed to increase people’s awareness of intonation, which is the natural rise and fall of a person’s voice when speaking. (An example is the rise in tone to ask a question.) Currently, Dr. Freudenthal is investigating the reasons and mechanisms behind why intonation enhancement increases a person’s ability to express and discern nuance in spoken communication.

In addition to his academic work, Dr. Freudenthal is an entrepreneur with a local start-up set to launch at the end of the year that will feature consumer products designed to enhance emotional intelligence.

“I proposed IE to cure my tin ear with the hope that it would enable me to sing with friends,” said Freudenthal. “Now, I focus on helping people to communicate better.”

Dr. Rumpf is a professor of electrical and computer engineering, who also spearheads UTEP’s EM Lab that develops electromagnetic, photonic, and hybrid 3D printing technologies. The EM lab has created a multitude of breakthroughs under Dr. Rumpf includes innovative ways to control light, as well as being the first to automate hybrid direct-write 3D printing, which allows for the production of complex 3D parts for conductors, dielectrics, magnetics, and other materials.

“The EM Lab is very ambitious and inventive because of how we developed our culture to accept risk and failure in areas where the payoff could be huge,” said Rumpf.

Drs. Cox, Freudenthal, and Rumpf are not only inventing valuable technologies, but also inspiring generations of UTEP students.

“These exceptional professors are creating new treatments for cancer to patients, new tools for people to understand each other better, and new ways to build complex 3D parts,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “They represent the best of what a university can do to impact the health and economy of the community we serve.”

97 June 2024

Inspiring Through the Sound of

Sound of

| or local musician Carlos Barba, personal projects are just one piece that fuels his drive for music. As a piano teacher at Pebble Hills High School and as the artistic director of the El Paso Youth Jazz Ensemble (EPYJE), Barba always seeks to help his students reach new heights in music.

Growing up, Barba had an interest in music and the desire to pursue it sparked in high school, when the pianist started playing guitar and formed his own garage band. However, for Barba, deciding to pursue music was a challenge since not only was he unsure about what to go after, but also the difficulties that came along the way were a task to tackle.

“When it came time to start college, I wasn’t sure a part of me wanted to study music, since I didn’t know if it was going to be a sustainable career,” Barba shared. “At the time I was getting into the keyboard and piano. Eventually, I just didn’t care if it took me a while, because I couldn’t read music. I was 18 and that held me back for a while, but it worked out in the end”

Today, Barba is a well-rounded musician and performer with experience in and out of music studios with seven full-length albums as leader, two as sideman, two EPs, and two singles. His own band, The Carlos Barba Trio had the opportunity of opening for Antonio Sanchez & Migration Band in the Cd. Juarez International Jazz Festival 2019. Aside from this, Barba has also shared the stage with

photography by: CARLOS BARBA



renowned musicians Brian Lynch, Obed Calvaire, Matt Penman, and Aaron Goldberg in the Guadalajara International Jazz Festival 2017.

According to Barba, even when teaching was not a first option and there was hesitation, he shared that this new venture has grown on him over time. In addition, having a full-time job as a piano teacher is a great opportunity to earn a living via music.

“I’m really grateful that I can completely live off of music, through either teaching or playing or a combination of both,” Barba expressed. “Sometimes I have too much work, more than I can handle, but I’ve gotten to love teaching because when you work with students, and you see their growth, and you see them succeed, that’s a great feeling and is different from the thrill of just performing.”

Despite the busy schedule Barba finds space, not only for his freelance work with his own jazz trio, which most recently performed at Borderland Beer Fest back in May, but also among his different projects is a focus as the artistic director of El Paso Youth Jazz Ensemble.

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My goal is to expose students to the genre. I know some will eventually branch out and do something else, but I think being part of this program will help enrich their paths and even our community with some jazz.

The ensemble was established in 2007 by musicians and educators Marty Olivas and Ricky Malichi, with the goal of fostering a love for jazz music in the younger generations focusing on stylistic traits, technique, performance, and improvisation among other skills that enrich and preserve the heritage of jazz music.

While the ensemble is not new, according to Barba, the non-profit organization had a few ups and downs, until most recently when he was given the opportunity to run the program.

“Our chair, Mr. Victor Salas reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in starting the ensemble again,” Barba said. “I tried it out for a summer with a small group and it went well. We did a summer program and now we have a full band which is about a 22-member group, and we run the ensemble the whole year.”

The band consists of musicians ranging between the age of 15 and 18 years old, most of them with previous experience playing music. In 2023, the ensemble decided to open a few spots for students in the 8th grade to offer more opportunities to students who seek the experience of playing in an ensemble.

“I’ve seen their progress and now I’m excited that they’re going to stay, and they will grow with the program,” Barba said. “In the beginning when new students join in, they’re not at the level of where everybody else is, but that seems to motivate them; within a few months they grow and gain that experience.”

Barba shared that the goal of the organization is to primarily help members grow musically, while also ensuring the tradition of jazz music is alive. As reported by CNN Entertainment, the consumption

of jazz music has decreased since the late 1960s and with new music genres on the rise, jazz lost its commercial appeal.

However, the end goal of the non-profit organization is not only to shape students into well-trained musicians but to also elevate the genre in the community.

“We teach the students that jazz is very intricate music and has multiple sub genres and that there is a lot to explore within that realm,” Barba expressed. “My goal is to expose students to the genre. I know some will eventually branch out and do something else, but I think being part of this program will help enrich their paths and even our community with some jazz.”

Last December, the El Paso Youth Jazz Ensembled shared the stage with members of the El Paso Youth symphony orchestra, and most recently, the ensemble opened for UTEP’s Jazz Band in a local event in the month of April.

According to Barba, one thing he hopes to improve is looking for external funding to help keep the organization afloat. In the past, the organization has had a few donations and organized fundraisers. This is to help students keep a low tuition for students and to award scholarships for those who can’t afford the payment but wish to have a spot on the ensemble.

“We get a lot of students who can’t afford to pay 200 dollars — that is the tuition for the whole year— but we never turn them down or send them away, that’s when our funding comes in and helps students out,” Barba said. “We operate with a very low budget; we try to keep the program as affordable as possible for the students. And then next year, we’re also planning a different fundraiser to hopefully make the tuition free.”

According to Barba, the organization is now looking for members of the community who are interested in donating to the ensemble

or wish to become board members and help on the administrative side.

Even when balancing his fulltime job along with directing the EPYJE, Barba still finds time to take care of his personal projects. Most recently, Barca collaborated with El Paso Opera playing a piano part for their production of ‘Sunday at the Park with George.’

“Just like I push my students to get out of their comfort zone, I also jump into things that are also out of my comfort zone. The opera was written in the 80s and is really intriguing and hard as well,” Barba said. “The score with all my music is 220 pages so it was really intimidating and before the first rehearsal I was really scared and nervous, but I decided to jump into that challenge and push myself just like I do with my students.”

June 2024 101
Inspiring Through the Sound of Jazz




If you’ve watched movies and shows such as “Luca”, “Cobra Kai” and “Ford vs. Ferrari” or even performances by The Revivalists or Alanis Morissette, you may have heard or seen a guitar that was crafted by luthier Boot Arreola.

Arreola, who is a native El Pasoan owns B.A. Ferguson, a handmade guitar business established in 2008. Arreola has gained a popular clientele and moved his business to South Carolina after starting it in his hometown.

But, before his business became what it is today, Arreola’s journey started out of a piqued interest in guitars as a child and an apprenticeship with El Pasoan Barry Martin, owner of Frets and Necks Guitar Specialty.

“I had heard of him when I was about 12 or 13,” Arreola said. “And when I was 15, I had this guitar that had broken. My grandfather was really good at fixing things and after he looked at it, he suggested that we should get someone else’s help. I remembered Barry since everyone would tell me about him. My grandfather took me over there and after five minutes of looking at Barry’s shop, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

After visiting Martin’s shop, Arreola wanted to learn more about lutherie and sought out a job from Martin.

“I even asked him if I could work for him for free,” Arreola said. “He told me to go be a doctor or something else. I was fairly stubborn, so I continued to go back. I would go see him for years and would take him guitar projects. By the time I got engaged, he offered me an apprenticeship.”

After a two-year apprenticeship with Martin, Arreola decided to commit to the business full time after getting married and finding out he was going to be a dad.

“It kind of came out of necessity,” he said. “My wife and I had been married almost a year 102 June 2024

and we had just found out we were pregnant. Between the two of us, we had almost five jobs. We just knew that the path we were on wasn’t super sustainable unless we made some drastic changes, so we moved to South Carolina. It took a few years but by the time 2008 came around, I had started the business around the housing bubble burst, and I thought to myself, ‘This is crazy.’”

Despite now living in South Carolina, Arreola recognizes the strength and willpower being an El Pasoan instilled in him which got him through a rough start.

“I was getting into the business full time and there was a recession happening,” he said. “But it was probably one of the best decisions I made because it allowed me to use the El Paso resourcefulness that I think we all have. We’re kind of a culture where in

some ways we are forced to make do with very little and learn to improvise.”

Part of what makes B.A. Ferguson unique in addition to original designs that Arreola comes up with, Arreola’s goal is to create sustainably by using reusable resources such as unwanted pianos.

“Wood is a living thing, even after you cut it,” he said. “It needs to twist and turn. One of the problems in the music industry today is the fact that most companies can’t wait for the wood to dry. I also wanted to be resourceful and use things that were going to be thrown away anyway. I had gotten some people calling me asking if I wanted a piano, since the other option was to send it to the dump. I wanted to use it since pianos have such beautiful wood that’s about 100 years old.” 103

From Keys to Strings

Arreola currently has about 15 pianos worth of wood out of the original 30 he was able to collect over the years.

“Sometimes, we would just charge them gas money to go pick them up,” he said. “At the end of the day, on paper, it makes more sense to buy wood because it takes so much time to take apart a piano, but at the same time, it’s worth it because we are reclaiming this wood and giving it a new life.”

Not only does Arreola craft his guitars, but he also designs and modifies them, taking time to create original designs.

“I would work on some of the guitars that came in and I would ask Barry if I could trace it out and modify it later on,” Arreola said. “I used to work on some cool guitars that were from the 60s and 70s that were known as student model guitars. They were cheaper guitars made for kids to learn, and even

though they weren’t great quality, you could upgrade them to make some amazing guitars.”

Arreola has even received attention from renowned guitarists who’ve inquired with him such as Zach Feinberg from The Revivalists.

“Zach ended up reaching out to me as they were growing in popularity,” he said. “He told me I had some guitars that he’d like to try out and he invited me to their show in Charlotte to see if we could strike a deal backstage. We hit it off and he loved the guitars. He ended up picking one out and actually played it live that day. We made another guitar for him and as soon as he got it, he ended up playing it on the Stephen Colbert Show and Austin City Limits.”

Arreola has also made guitars for artists like Andrew Synowiec, who performed with Alanis Morissette and played music for film soundtracks as well as Mark Cimino from Shelter Dogs.

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“These people made it in the industry,” he said. “It means a whole lot because they recognize the value of my work which allows me to value my own work a lot more.”

Arreola makes about 50 guitars in a year and not only sells them on his website, but also in 11 stores that deal his product such as Strum PDX in Portland, OR, Coast Sonic in Carlsbad, CA, and even internationally in Bangkok Music Exchange in Thailand, Kanda Shokai in Japan and Axe and You Shall Receive in Canada.

“I started from literally nothing,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where if you’re not working, there’s no money being generated. That gets hard especially if you’re driven creatively, so you must blend creativity with money making. It’s not for the faint of heart, but It’s especially worth it and it’s still all surreal for me.”

June 2024

Flowers and Beesand Chickens, Oh My! W

Photos courtesy of:




elcome to the long-awaited introduction of The El Paso Children’s Garden, a magnificent 60-acre botanical garden with 10 uniquely themed rental venues nestled within a seven-path garden labyrinth. Visitors will embark on an unparalleled experience, unlike any other botanical garden in the United States, and the garden will be right here, in our backyard.

Upon arrival, visitors will be met with spacious parking and a beautiful entrance set against the stunning backdrop of our beloved Franklin Mountains.

Let’s get to know more about the garden, join me for a walk…


A Journey Through Color and Nature

The journey begins on a single-colored pathway, each garden with its own unique garden color filled with native flowers. Let’s start with the red Terrace Garden, where vibrant red terraces pave the way. This promenade will often be the scene of fashion shows, doggie parades, and will lead to the enchanting red grove, filled with red nuts and berries. Nestled along the red pathway, visitors will discover the estate-inspired villa with an event space capable of hosting 200 guests for weddings, quinceñeras, and family gatherings.

The orange garden is where you’ll find the Three Sisters seasonal squash tunnel and edible/medicinal garden, where visitors will be able to pick their own vegetables

and enjoy a farm-to-table experience. This garden also features a 100-person Hacienda-themed rentable space. As you walk the cactus garden, you’ll be excited to see our life-size Lady of Guadalupe Grotto, representing a cornerstone of our Hispanic Catholic culture. Turning the corner, you’ll hear the buzz of the 360-degree view beehive, which will be “buzzed” about around the country.

Because a garden needs critters, you’ll be able to see our chicken coop and hear chickens

pecking the ground and clucking as they have casual chicken-chats between hens.

Turning the corner on our yellow pathway, be prepared to be awed as you experience our area’s largest butterfly house, The Shiloff Family Butterfly House. Visitors will learn about the butterfly life cycle from egg to larva to butterfly. Imagine celebrating a wedding in one of our many themed event spaces and concluding with a butterfly release to celebrate the special moment.

107 June 2024

A botanical garden would not be complete without a maze, and ours is called “Mimi’s” secret garden maze. Originally, mazes were created to entertain royalty, and considered a very popular activity, Mimi’s Garden will be no different. If one looks closely, they will find little prizes hidden in the maze. The ancients believed a maze could put the mind in a calm state and have a way of connecting to the world.

Ambassadors of Conservation and Biodiversity

The El Paso Children’s Garden stands as a beacon for the importance of preserving native plant life, conservation, education, and biodiversity.

A Celebration of Native Plants

Approximately 2,000 native plants are being introduced into the garden. The global array of colors will enlighten any palate as a visitor strolls. In today’s world, we’ve become

unaware of the importance of putting our hands in the rich soils of life, where we’ve learned that children’s cognitive skills are stunted if they’ve not been taught the importance of taking care of a living thing whether it be a chicken, a beehive, or simply watering plants to enjoy the next morning bloom.

Educational and Enriching Experiences

The best education happens when you’re least expecting it, and the El Paso Children’s Garden will provide an invaluable opportunity to teach guests of all ages about both the diversity and necessity of native plants, the importance of water conservation, and the necessity of pollinators.

Many are unaware that pollinators such as birds, butterflies, hummingbirds and most importantly – bees – are a few of the pollinators that keep plants alive and productive.

Fun fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat, depends on a pollinator.

Designed for All

The garden is crafted for education, visual interest, and pure enjoyment.

This is a unique experience in the world of botanical gardens, right here in West Texas, where El Pasoans, Las Crucensans, and Juárez residents call home. Whether through the garden’s beauty or its educational offerings, visitors will find tranquility and “ah-ha!” moments unlike any other.

The garden is dedicated to the child in all of us who delight in the beauty of nature.

This destination draw will, no doubt, significantly impact the local economy, benefiting hotels, restaurants, and vendors of all sizes. Visitors will not only experience the garden but also be encouraged to explore other local attractions like La Nube, a day watching El Paso’s professional soccer team or our minor league baseball team, or visiting our baby giraffe or one-horned rhino at the El Paso Zoo, learning about our deep architectural history, or simply shopping at some of our local boutiques. Come, stay, play, and get to know our city and all we have to offer.

Sustaining the Garden’s Future

You might ask, how will we sustain this project after completion?

June 2024 Flowers and Bees and Chickens, Oh My!

Through continuous ticket and membership sales, revenue from ten event spaces, gift shop sales, and food and beverage profits.

Additionally, the garden will be eligible for grants due to our mission:

The El Paso Children’s Garden, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating a public botanical garden. Our purpose is to inspire a deeper connection to nature, foster a commitment to conserve and protect natural resources, and enhance understanding of the interdependence

of plants and people through research, education, and hands-on experience.

Where did the vision and deep commitment of this project come from?

Our founder, Dennece Knight, and why this dream for our city was so important she says, “This garden was designed to be a oneof-a-kind, high-engagement, four-season place of beauty: a refuge for El Pasoans of all ages to enjoy, as well as a must-see stop for those passing through. We want every person who enters to bask in the sheer beauty and breadth of native and adaptive

plants and trees that can be successfully grown here and expand their understanding of the how’s and why’s to gain knowledge on a personal level that is slipping further and further away every day.”

Join us in this exciting journey to bring The El Paso Children’s Garden to life, a place where every visit is a celebration of nature and a step towards a more sustainable future.

Follow our website and social media to learn more about the colors of the garden.

We have so much to tell you… to be continued… 109 June 2024
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The grand opening of Mutt’s Canine Cantina

was a barktastic celebration for man’s best friend, bringing together dog lovers and their furry companions for a day of fun and community. The event featured a variety of dog-friendly activities, delicious treats, and a welcoming atmosphere that highlighted the special bond between dogs and their owners. With plenty of wagging tails and happy barks, Mutt’s Canine Cantina is a new go-to spot for both dogs and their humans.


May Launch Party

The City Magazine celebrated the launch of its first-ever immersive ARX cover with El Paso Children’s Hospital Multispecialty Center for the annual medical issue. Guests saw the cover brought to life in the palm of their hands, ushering in an exciting new era of technology and growth in the community.


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JUNE 2024 Advertiser INDEX

3D Scalp Micropigmentation Studio........................................


Alfredo H. Arellano PMHCNS-BC, PA Pgs. 23; 46-47

Ana Square Microblading & Permanent Makeup.................Pg. 13


Audax Group .....................................................................................

Ben Bridge Jewelers

Ben E. Keith Beverages

Borderland Bail Bonds ...................................................................

Casa Buena Vista Homes

Chuckles Chick-In Waffles

E.G. Designs


El Paso Children’s Hospital ................................... Inside back cover El Paso Electric.................................................................................Pg. 53 El Paso Periodontics & Implant Specialists

El Paso Rhinos Hockey

15 El Paso Roller Derby ....................................................................

111 EP Accounting & Tax Services

11 Epic Events and Entertainment

Hospice El Paso ......................................................................

Hyundai of El Paso

of the Mountain Gods

105; Back cover

Intraceuticals .................................................................................... Pg. 90

KFOX14/CBS4 Pgs. 2-3

Law Office of Gabriel S. Perez Pg. 56

Mendez Isaac Joudi, PLLC Pgs. 18-19

Paso del Norte Center of Hope.................................................. Pg. 38 Persian Rug Gallery Pg. 33 Pineapple Vintage Pg. 83 Poe Toyota Pgs. 1; 55 Raiz Federal Credit Union ............................................................. Pg. 60 Rejuvene M.D. Pg. 22

Drive Pg. 61

Mountain Mortgage Company Pgs. 23; 44-45 Shell Shocked................................................................................ Pg. 104

Plastic Surgery Pgs. 4-5 Stryker by Spectrum Pg. 81 Sugar Skull Fashion Boutique..................................................... Pg. 68


The City Ticketing Pg. 110

The Marketing Hunters ................................................................. Pg. 50

The Mix Salon and Spa Pg. 80

The State Line Pg. 27

Three Mule Saloon Pg. 58

TLC Hospice Services ................................................................... Pg. 48

War Eagles Air Museum ................................................................ Pg. 74

Westar Energy Solutions Pg. 54

116 June 2024
104.3 HITfm
front cover
Pgs. 42-43
Pgs. 40-41 Hotel Indigo
Pg. 75 Tacotote Pg. 36
Torch Fitness..................................................................................... Pg. 52 Track One Pg. 28 Walgreens Pgs. 8-9

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