The City Magazine March 2024

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2700 w picacho ave (575) 523.0833 9 Find your copy of at a Walgreens near you


Shelley Mozelle |


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Senior Editor

Erin Coulehan |

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Maggie Blum |


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March 2024 FASHION · HEALTH · lifestyle EL PASO/LAS CRUCES magazine
HOW TO REACH US 518 W. San Antonio, Suite A El Paso, Texas 79901 (915) 217 - 0723 | 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 DON’T MISS OUT ON THE MOST UP-TO-DATE CALENDAR IN EL PASO FOR ALL THE Socially Savvy MAR 22 TASTE LA DOLCE VITA WINE DINNER Mar 22 at 7:00PM - 9:00PM The Silo Bar APR 21 SPOTTED: EL PASO APRIL 2024 CAR SHOW Apr 21 at 10:00AM - 2:00PM War Eagles Air Museum MAR 23 THE WHOLE NEW WHOLE HOG Mar 23, 2024 at 3:00 PM MDT Grace Gardens UPCOMING EVENTS ADD YOUR EVENT TODAY! + ADDING YOUR OWN EVENTS IS FREE and will give them more visibility and awareness Ticket an event with us today! go to for more or scan here now!

From the recently discovered that what I want from life is – really – very simple. I want all of the animals. That’s obviously not possible, and perhaps more accurate to write that I *love* all of the animals.

One of my favorite memories from working at The City Magazine – a million years ago, in the land of 2012, as an intern – was going to the El Paso Zoo once a month to meet and learn about a special wildlife resident. Without question, my favorite was Savannah, the magnificent Asian elephant. For Savannah’s 60th birthday, Shelley and I were invited to help give the birthday queen a bubble bath.

Let me assure you, the experience lived up to the idea you probably have in your mind right now.

I’ll never forget being escorted to the back of the exhibit and being introduced to Savannah. Intelligent brown eyes with pretty eyelashes and freckles. I instantly loved her and popped by to visit each time I was at the zoo. Ten years later, and we were back at the zoo to prepare for Savannah’s 70th birthday. Like many El Pasoans, some of my favorite memories and symbols of El Paso have to do with our elephants: Mona, Juno, and Savannah. My heart was broken when I learned of Savannah’s passing, and she was an obvious choice as a cover. Her larger than life personality and joy are something I’ll always remember as a blessing for having known.

“God gave unto the animals a wisdom past our power to see: Each knows innately how to live, which we must learn laboriously,” writes Margaret Atwood.

In these pages, you’ll read about the ways that animals enrich our lives that include emotional support bearded dragons, a rare species of bird rediscovered in Africa by UTEP scholars on expedition, and the baby goats and mini cow at Ranchos Los Rivas who are helping veterans and civilians improve their mental and physical health.

Which reminds me!

This is also our fitness issue! Fitness in our culture is ubiquitous with wellness, which is helping to address stigma surrounding mental health – and that’s always a good thing. Don’t miss Charity’s article on working your mental fitness as rigorously as your physical fitness to help improve overall wellness (the F.A.T.E.S. portion of the editorial is super helpful and interesting!). We also have a fabulous story about a local dance academy that’s keeping the community on its toes by providing access and education to ballet.

Back to the animals!

I’m so excited for Dr. Alozie’s editorial on the health benefits of being around animals. I’m someone who becomes giddy around any creature cute and cuddly, and Dr. Alozie’s scientific explanation makes me feel slightly less silly about it.

But knowing the science won’t change the reaction.

I was VERY silly around the baby goats at Rancho Los Rivas; I dare anyone not to be. Meeting Roberto, who is so interesting and impressive as a human, and his animals is a memory I’ll cherish like Savannah’s bubble baths. It’s through animals and animal lovers that many of us are able to be our most giddy, our most silly, and our most at-ease.

May we feel that everyday.

March 2024 12


14 March 2024
Erin COULEHAN Senior Editor Claudia FLORES Katherine KOCIAN Amber LANAHAN Charity VIZCAINO Dr. Ogechika ALOZIE Jamiah DANCIL Gibel AMADOR Sergio OLIVAS
15 March 2024 MARCH 2024 VOLUME 119 contents Features Here and Now 22 Straight to the Pointe By: CLAUDIA FLORES 72 The Elephant Preferred Perfume By: ERIN COULEHAN 90 Of Tales & Tails By: AMBER LANAHAN 40 The Hero & The Herd By: ERIN COULEHAN 82 Healing Paws By: DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE 34 Flex Your Mental Health By: CHARITY VIZCAINO 72 22 90

Extreme Queen

of the


16 March 2024
Meet the
| By: ERIN COULEHAN photos courtesy of: FERNANDA GRATTON

Most women can identify with the desire to accomplish the impossible. We stretch the hours of the day to meet the needs of our family, work, and social lives. We squeeze our bodies into shapewear to look just right and arm ourselves against body expectations. We’d move mountains if we could.

I’d like to introduce you to a woman who’s more concerned with the climb than getting to the top.

Through rigorous challenges and solitary moments of mountain climbing and hiking, Fernanda Gratton, embodies the archetype of the modern adventurer and has forged a profound sense of self. Gratton’s expeditions demonstrate the transformative power of nature to nurture personal growth, resilience and identity development for women interested in outdoor pursuits.

“I grew up in a mountain biking family,” she explains. “My dad has been a mountain and road biker his whole life, so we grew up on the trails and traveled around the city and the country for races.”

Gratton attended UTEP and jokes that the lifestyle of a college student overshadowed her perspective of El Paso.

“I completely forgot about the mountains!” she laughs. “I never even climbed the Franklin Mountains.”

That – like everything else – changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gratton, her husband, and their two sons were living in Houston then relocated to El Paso. During the days of stay-at-home orders, the family sought creative ways to spend their time.

“We started doing small climbs, and would take the boys to smaller trails around El

Paso. Then we got really into offroading,” says Gratton. “We bought a Jeep, and then that allowed us to go through terrain that not many people get access to. We started camping, then backpacking, and one thing led to another.”

It was during a 23-mile backpacking trip that she had a thought:

“I saw the mountains and wondered how it would be to be on that top of it,” she recalls.

Despite growing up in an outdoorsy environment, she didn’t consider herself an expert – especially when it came to climbing mountains.

“I didn’t know anything about classes or levels of difficulty,” says Gratton. “For me, it was just a mountain and I said ‘Let’s go climb it.’”

Her first climb was not for the faint of heart, and Gratton overcame more than the challenge of scaling a mountain; she took herself to new heights and cultivated a deeper sense of self along the way.

“I’ve never considered myself an athletic person,” she explains. “I’ll work out but no one would ever describe me as an athlete.


I was a mom. I still had baby weight on my body, so mountain climbing was not really something that I thought I could do.”

But she did.

Her first climb was Mt. Sneffels in Colorado, a fourteener (14,000 feet) that is the highest summit of the Sneffels Range in the Rocky Mountains.

“By the time we reached the summit,” she says, “it felt like such a personal accomplishment. I couldn’t believe I had just done this.”

She and her husband did the climb together, a memory that she says will last forever.

“It sounds cliche but that religious experience that people talk about is true. It felt like, ‘Wow, not a lot of people are able to live this experience,” says Gratton. March 2024
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Since then, she’s traveled to continue to reach new heights: Mt. Rainier in Washington, Wilson Peak in Colorado, Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, and more.

During a trip to Mt. Rainier last September, she camped for eight days of activities that included crevasse rescue training, ice climbing, and glacier traveling that she says was particularly memorable. It’s experiences and memories like these that inspire her to

continue climbing, not only for herself, but also as an example.

“As women, we want to be active to lose weight,” she says. “Women are always thinking that we want to be fitter. It’s always about the weight, and that was a struggle for me until I stopped caring about it.”

Instead, she directed her focus at other goals, such as “I want to be at the top of that mountain.”

Gratton says that a moment came where she said “screw it.”

“My husband and I are young. I feel young. I have two young boys, and let’s live life,” she recalls thinking to herself. “I was determined to stop worrying about what other people think of me and about losing weight – just have fun. It’s taught me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to,” which is a lesson she’s instilling in her sons.

While she says some might not understand leaving home for a week to conquer a mountain – literally – that doesn’t matter. What’s important is that her sons know their mom is an adventurer.

“I know I’m setting an example for my kids when I come back and they say, ‘Mommy, I love what you did. Now I want to climb Mt. Rainier. I want to climb Mt. Everest with you.’”

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At ages 18 and 19, most dancers must decide whether to attend college or join a professional dance company. For Aylin Aguirre, a passion for STEM led her to graduate from UT Austin with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, then later pursue her love for dance by opening her own ballet academy.

Located at 13340 Soleen Road Suite D, Nylia Ballet Academy opened its doors in the summer of 2023, offering far East El Paso a ballet-focused dance studio. According to Aguirre, after coming back to El Paso, opening her own studio felt more like a necessity after being unable to find adult ballet classes to join.

“I started training when I was 11, and I kept dancing until I was 18. Then, I went to college because I wanted a job that paid money – you know how the arts are. Once I did that, I decided to come back, and was looking for adult ballet classes because I wanted to get back into it after six years. There


was none,” Aguirre says. “I was driving an hour every day to a studio on the west side, and then I thought it was a bit extreme. So, in the span of three months, I got the idea of opening a studio. It started in March, and we opened in late May.”

El Paso has a solid dance scene, and most studios offer ballet classes that provide focused training in classical ballet and technique, which contributes to the development of dancersin multiple disciplines and styles, as well as opening the door for those who wish to concentrate on ballet.

American Ballet Theater, one of the top ten companies in the world, offers a training program nationwide for ballet instructors to provide them with the proper tools to aid in the development of students in different areas of classical ballet. At Nylia Ballet Academy, Aguirre is a certified ABT teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum.

“Having one of the top ballet schools in the nation backing us is proof that we know what we’re doing. This was important for me to achieve because I need to make sure I’m at the level,” Aguirre said. “This is not just about ‘Let me prove I can do this,’ it’s about gaining knowledge and the training that I need to perform at the level I am teaching.”

As a team led by young women, Nylia Ballet Academy offers a daily class curriculum and adult ballet classes for beginner and intermediate/advanced levels two to three times a week. Ballet is not only physically demanding, but also known to be an expensive sport. Ballet requires a specific form of training, mostly provided by specialized studios and private coaches. Apparel and shoes are also key equipment for dancers. For those who are on pointe, the shoes range from $110 to $150 per pair.

In most of the top dance schools around the country, dancers are given scholarships

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that cover their dance education, and in professional companies, the cost of shoes are covered and the dancers compensated for being on stage.

For Aguirre, the goal is not only to provide the community with access to a high-quality dance education but also to transform the academy into a dance company where dancers are paid. For those who attend the school, the goal is to provide students with a small scholarship that can contribute to their dance training.

“I proved that I could earn my certification, and now one of my biggest goals is training our students not just to have good ballet technique, but so they can get to live as dancers: where they can have careers, get scholarships, and get into schools,” Aguirre says. “Ballet is an expensive sport and in reality, if you’re going to be training in a school, you must have at least four pairs of pointe shoes minimum a month – that is over $500 – so for me, it’s about giving that opportunity and access to kids who can’t afford that.”

According to marketing director Jazmine Cuevas, the academy seeks access to the community through collaborations with local schools, fitness gyms, and local libraries.

“Different places on the east side are so down to collaborate. Schools want us to do professional development or to be there for their military parent nights. We’re about to collaborate with Sho-Offz Gym, which most of them are bodybuilders,” Cuevas says. “We collaborate not only just with the east side, we’re doing a lot with local libraries, and going to different branches for the upcoming production of Cinderella. So, it’s about to go out into the community and show we’re here for them.”

One way that schools show the progress and talent of students is through dance recitals or full productions, which also contribute to the community having some appreciation for the art form.

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While the academy will be presenting the production of Cinderella this upcoming spring at UTEP’s Magoffin auditorium, the focus also lies on presenting more mature and culturally-diverse shows.

“We will be doing an Afro-Mexican performance, thinking that it’s going to be telling the history of blackness, which has every part in it,” Cuevas shared. “We are making the whole production from scratch. It’s going to be a very ambitious production, but we’re hoping that as we go forward with it, there is community outreach, too, creating events around it and talking about why this is important.”

Aguirre and Cuevas shared that breaking ballet stereotypes is critical to the formation of healthy dancers, going from children to adult dancers.

“For me, I have noticed, especially with adult dancers who came back to ballet, that their biggest worry is body dysmorphia or anorexia, so as a teacher, my words have a certain weight and I’ve seen that me being body positive to them, one small compliment will change everything,” Aguirre said.

Although ballet is considered a demanding practice both physically and mentally (especially by those pursuing it professionally) as a recreational activity, ballet provides the body with great benefits. According to The New York Times, ballet offers both physical and cognitive benefits since it involves the use of memory and physical mobility such as flexibility and agility.

“In the Western culture, we think a lot about the mind separated from the body, but cognition and spiritual well-being are huge parts of ballet, and if you think about the way ballet operates, it’s actually very holistic,” Cuevas shares.

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el Paso’s ouTsTandinG aThleTes

thleticism in El Paso is renowned for the dedication, passion, and discipline necessary to succeed that has inspired the community, while also leading to achievements in sports at collegiate and professional levels. A number of notable athletes have come out of El Paso across various sports disciplines that have left a lasting legacy and showcased the talent and determination the community has to offer to the world of athletics.

aaron Jones

NFL running back for the Green Bay Packers who played high school and college football in El Paso before being drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Kayla Gomez Team USA boxer training for a spot to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, who was named the 2021 USA Boxing Youth Female Boxer of the Year. TrisTen newTon College basketball player for the UConn Huskies from the Big East Conference – and cousin of Aaron and Alvin Jones – is headed to the NBA Draft in 2024 as a projected potential second-round pick.
March 2024 28

Camryn heon diaz de leon

Hockey player who has played for Mexico’s junior and senior national teams. In 2023, she and Team Mexico won the bronze medal at the Dicision II Group A Women’s World Championship.

ausTin TrouT

Professional boxer who held the WBA (regular) super welterweight title from 2011 to 2013.

marGareT Varner Bloss

Two-time Uber Cup champion, who excelled at three different racket sports – badminton, squash, and tennis – is the only athlete to ever represent the U.S. at the highest level of competition in all three sports.

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Flex Your

The concept of mental fitness is a cornerstone of well-being that encompasses the resilience, clarity, and adaptability of a person’s cognitive and emotional faculties. This concept reflects the strength and agility of the mind to navigate life’s myriad challenges that can range from daily stressors to profound adversities – and everything in between!

Just as physical fitness is vital for optimal physical function, mental fitness is inextricably linked to nurturing psychological health and fostering senses of fulfillment and purpose. By working on mental fitness,

a person can enhance self-awareness, emotional regulation, and cognitive flexibility that empowers people to thrive despite the complexities of modern existence.

In summary, mental fitness equips people with the tools and resilience needed to confront life’s uncertainties with clarity, fortitude, and a sense of inner equilibrium that you can learn more about below!

What is “mental fitness?”

Mental fitness is a branch of Positive Psychology that focuses, not on the

deficits or ailments of a person, but also acknowledges the strengths each person intrinsically possesses and is capable of. The official definition states, “Mental fitness is the flexible capacity to utilize resources and skills to psychologically adapt to internal and external challenges or advantages to enable optimal functioning.”

Okay, whew, that’s a lot of jargon!

Put simply, mental fitness means having a set of skills to face difficult emotions or stressful life experiences and live a fulfilling and resilient life.

March 2024 35

Why is it as important to work on our mental health just as physical health?

In my nearly seven years as a clinical mental health counselor, the most common goal I have heard from clients is, “I want to be happy.”

Sounds like a great goal, right?

We all want to be happy, however, emotions are fleeting. All of them. The feelings that make us feel like we are invincible and full of joy, and the ones that come crashing down, drowning us in despair.

Emotions are transient, and if our mental state and subsequent behaviors are

tethered to these passing waves, then we will forever be tossed about, searching for the next high.

Life is not linear, therefore, it is up to each of us to acquire coping skills to navigate life’s ebbs and flows. In healthcare, physicians encourage their patients to engage in proactive behaviors to reduce the risk of diseases and death. Annual checkups, immunizations, and physical exercise are all part of a preventative medicine. Most people can agree on the importance of taking care of our physical well-being, but when it comes to habits for mental wellbeing, there is still stigma and lack of public awareness. Mental and physical fitness are not separate issues.

In fact, research shows that when one suffers, the other is likely to follow.

What are the links between mental and physical fitness?

Like any athlete will tell you, becoming physically fit does not happen in overnight: it takes years of consistency and practice. One of the amazing gifts we have as humans is that the more we practice something, the better we will get.

This can be applied to both physical and mental fitness. When looking at the determinants of mental fitness, there are three different factors to consider: genetics (parental DNA, family mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety), environment (Who is around you? Are you supported?

March 2024

Is there abuse, love, stress, neglect?), and actions/thoughts (How we see ourselves, the world, and what we do about it), also known as a Biopsychosocial model.

None of us have control over our genes or our childhood environments, but, the most important factor of the three – your actions –is the one that is in your control! How exciting!

Perhaps, you have not taken care of your mental health in the past, it is never too late to start.

Neuroscience teaches us that our neural pathways can be reshaped with repeated practice, just like our physical bodies can become fit when exercised.

Who or what can help strengthen the mind / mental health?

In a world that is unpredictable, I want to remind you of your own power. You are in

so much more control of your life than you think! Let’s look at practical strategies for creating a fit mind.



mindfulness practices, meditation, and observation of your thoughts. Apps like Headspace or iCalm are useful tools.)


Of self, others, and of things you cannot change


Who is in your corner to support you in life? We all need social support.


What are your values? Values are a motivator to press on when things are tough.


Belief in self and in your ability to accomplish what you set out to do.

Reading material:

Being Happy: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life by Tal Ben-Shahar

Begin therapy:

Therapy is often thought of as a last resort after a painful life event or due to a severe mental illness. Let’s stop contributing to the stigma! While therapy can benefit those who experience loss, severe depression, or a life transition, it is beneficial for ALL people in ALL stages of life. If our mental and physical fitness are tied together, than therapy appointments should be viewed just as typical wellness check-ins. Going to a trained professional is not a sign of weakness, we all can use support as we work on our fitness goals, physical or mental.

March 2024
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Hero THE


Herd THE

| photography by:

One of the mysteries of existence is the way that animals can connect people more deeply to our own humanity. We give grace when there’s an accident in the house. We shower them with positive affirmations. We learn life lessons from creatures who will never speak our language.

Most can relate to the experience of having an awful day – maybe an awful few days, weeks, months – and coming home to a wagging tail. Suddenly, things feel okay. There’s comfort in sharing a connection with another living being, even amidst struggle.

Oftentimes, our four-legged friends are the ones who teach us how to more securely stand on our own two feet.

Through empathy, compassion, and determination, Roberto Rivas Jr., a disabled United States Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan post-9/11, transitioned to a career in biomedical engineering, ultimately finding purpose and healing through time spent with animals. By introducing goat yoga to the community at Rancho Los Rivas, he not only offers a unique form of relaxation and fitness, but also fosters a supportive environment for people and animals to connect and thrive.

“I was one of the first units in Afghanistan right after 9/11,” says Rivas on a sunny February afternoon on his ranch with a recently hatched chick sleeping sweetly in each hand. “I worked on jets and helicopters, and was in the thick of it.” Rivas served for four years that included two overseas deployments in the middle of a warzone.

“I spent more time out there than I would like, and seeing the nastiness of war made me want to change my field to medicine,” he says. “I realized that I wanted to help save lives rather than being involved in the taking of lives – and now look at us.”

Rancho Los Rivas in West El Paso is a hacienda-style home where Rivas and the many members of his menagerie live, work, and inspire.

Rivas came back from deployment forever changed and struggled to find a path toward healing. He was accepted into Harvard Medical School, where he completed two and a half years before his father fell ill with cancer and he moved back to El Paso. The stress of giving up his medical school education, coupled with existing trauma, a cross-country move, and his father’s health compounded the stress, but led to a universally-desired feeling: he wasn’t alone.

“As all this stress piled and piled on,” he says, “I realized that my dogs were helping me feel better. Then I remembered that I used to like horses and horseback riding.”

He purchased a ranch, and thus, Rancho Los Rivas was born.

“I bought my first horse and noticed that I didn’t have anxiety attacks anymore. I didn’t have panic attacks anymore. I decided to start getting more animals, then I got the goats and have not had any issues since,” he says, stroking the mane of Dante, his very first horse.

The benefits of interacting with animals as a way to alleviate stressors are myriad and include enhanced physical fitness, social connection, sense of purpose, improved communication skills, mood enhancement, and improved quality of life.

For many, pets like dogs and cats are family, and Rivas is introducing the community to

41 March 2024

expanded access to animals by being the first in the city to offer goat yoga in 2022.

Goat yoga is a popular fitness experience that offers a combination of novelty, dress relief, social interaction, and health benefits to participants in a fun and engaging atmosphere for people of different backgrounds and fitness levels.

“It combines the animals with the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga and meditation,” says Rivas. “We partnered with a local yoga studio that has certified instructors to lead the classes here, and we open it up to everybody.”

Rancho Los Rivas offers goat yoga classes every Saturday at 9am that people can book their spots at Rivas’ website.

“We have people who are repeat customers and really enjoy it. We also have people who come and just want to hangout with the animals. You don’t have to have yoga experience, just an open mind,” he says.

Part of the success and popularity of the Saturday classes is the connection created between person and animal, with mammals like goats and horses being particularly friendly.

“They want to be with you,” says Rivas. “They want you to be part of their circle.”
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Welcome to a world where every bite is an indulgence and every sip is a celebration! This month, we’re showcasing El Paso’s vibrant restaurants and bars, where culinary artistry meets unparalleled ambiance. But, that’s not all!

Envision your dream wedding at an enchanted venue, where love blossoms amidst elegant decor and impeccable attention to detail. Whether it’s a night out or the Big Day, ensure that special moments are transformed into unforgettable memories.




El Paso:

130 Shadow Mountain Dr, El Paso, TX (915) 581-1392

Albuquerque: 9800 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM (505) 298-7678

10022 Coors Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM (505) 899-2000

Steak & Seafood

What kind of cuisine do you specialize in?

Pelican’s Steak & Seafood is a beloved, locally owned business established over 40 years ago. The El Paso staple serves up only the finest in seafood and USDA Choice Angus beef, aged in-house to ensure tenderness, along with other popular mouthwatering dishes. The core focus of Pelican’s is and has always been the guest experience, achieved through the freshest ingredients, impeccable service and unparalleled value.

Why did you get into this industry?

A high school graduate who was considering entry into the United States Air Force, Jim Diaz was already rolling up his sleeves as a dishwasher alongside his brother Bobby, who worked as a cook at Pelican’s on Gateway West Blvd. Enjoying the energy of the business sparked an interest in him. Both Diaz brothers learned every aspect of the restaurant business from the ground up and the rest is history. Owner, Jim Diaz, says what motivates him is the satisfaction of knowing that guests are delighted with their dining experience each and every time!

What do you want readers to know about you?

Jim makes it clear that every guest is special, greeting them as they walk through the door and while they dine, and ensuring

that their experience is nothing other than enjoyable. In fact, Jim jokingly likens his personal and directed attention to all of his guests as “show business,” demonstrating his genuine love of entertaining all of his patrons. More than anything, Jim prides himself immensely on his loyal managers and staff and their invaluable contributions.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

Pelican’s rich tradition as an El Paso staple, coupled with its strong foundation, has always set it apart from the competition. From the best in quality to atmosphere, superb service, cleanliness and experience, these elements have greatly contributed to the restaurant’s huge success. Today, Pelican’s maintains that tradition in El Paso and at its two locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

An El Paso native, Jim says he’s proud of our city’s people, referring to them as especially kind and not too caught up in the hustle and bustle, and loves when visitors to the Sun City point this out. He feels that people skills are very important and takes great pride in imparting interpersonal skills on his employees, along with a strong work ethic, for the overall betterment of his staff and their future.

Pelican’s Steak & Seafood
Photography provided by Canana's 48 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Plaza Tec 1800 Ave. Tecnológico 1808 Cd. Juárez, MX (656) 407-6967
provided by Canana's SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 49

The RockIn’ Bar 3315 Dyer Street (915) 307-8615

The RockIn' Bar El Paso

Rock'In Bar El Paso


The RockIn’ Bar

3315 Dyer Street (915) 307-8615

The RockIn' Bar El Paso

Rock'In Bar El Paso

What do you specialize in?

We’re a favorite local dive bar that features FREE live music. We offer NFL Sunday Ticket, as well as other sports entertainment. We feature speciality libations and a variety of craft draft selections.

Why did you get into this industry?

I have over 30+ years in the hospitality and food and beverage service industry and grew to love this profession. The training, supervising and mentoring of employees gave me the confidence and desire to own my own business.

What do you want readers to know about you?

I am a native of El Paso. The building was part of the original “Rock Inn.’ We consider it a piece of Central El Paso’s native history. We renamed our business in a manner to blend old with new. This is how we became “The RockIn’ Bar”.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

We present FREE live music from local and touring bands. Although we are known as a “Rock and Roll” establishment, we provide a variety of genres. We are also the home to the Denver Broncos Fan Club 915!

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

El Paso loves to have a good time and at The RockIn’ Bar, we live it up! The RockIn’ Bar is the “Dyer Maker” of dive bars!


What do you specialize in?

Track One

1330 Buffalo Soldier

(915) 779-2170

(915) 771-9502

Track One El Paso


We specialize in El Paso’s favorite wings. Our focus is to ensure that our supporters and visitors leave with bellies full of the biggest and tastiest wings available! Most everybody loves a chicken wing. We want to provide a product that is just as unique as the environment that can’t be found anywhere else.

Why are you in this industry?

We want to provide food that is freshly made with serving sizes worth the price tag. Our motivation is continuously fed from the appreciation and support from our community. Returning and new customers’ opinions help us to become better than yesterday. We are here to provide and serve all of our customers’ needs.

What do you want readers to know about you?

We constantly try to provide unique, homemade meals. Our environment is different within itself; train caboose and dining cars to give that full dining experience, along with freshly made and unique meals. Our top selling items are what our community constantly praises us on, so we want to live up to that standard.

What makes you unique?

Track One not only offers a different ambiance of not being in a square building, but the freshly prepared food helps solidify why we are unique. We prepare 90% of our items in house, and we believe that it shows!

Why do you serve El Paso?

El Paso is growing exponentially, but we are still such a tight knit community of families who know one another in some way, shape or form. We have had the privilege to serve the El Paso community and its visitors for decades. It’s not just the establishment they come to visit, it’s the familiar faces and home feelings we provide, which we hope will bring people back. Generations of families have come together in Track One’s melting pot of a family and customers get to feel and experience that, as well. We are forever grateful to share that with El Paso.


The Tap Bar and Restaurant

408 E. San Antonio Ave. (915) 532-1848

What do you specialize in?

We are a full service bar and restaurant specializing in authentic Mexican food and top shelf spirits. We offer a large variety of domestic and import beers.

How did you get started in this industry?

Mr. Charles Soule established The Tap Bar & Restaurant in 1956, we are now second generation owned and want to continue his legacy.

What do you want readers to know about you?

We pride ourselves on a tradition of amazing food and great service. One of the secrets of success for The Tap is consistency.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

We are one of the oldest operating establishments in downtown El Paso. We are celebrating our 68th year of serving our community.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

The people, traditions, and our love of food and family.


Even though Ericsson Nunez is the face and principal at Thyme Restaurant, the concept was reimagined by a couple of couples with an affinity for food, wine and our beautiful Upper Mesa Hills neighborhood. It took them laughter, conversation, and lots of emotion over many dinners to elevate this coveted space. Their dedication and exquisite taste has surely paid off. Dine at Thyme and you’ll find yourself surrounded by an elegant upscale decor and cordial atmosphere. You can experience the new menu inspired by sheer Westside flair and a nineteen year trajectory. Be adventurous and explore renowned wine growing regions in the curated cellar. The sophisticated bar provides an intimate space for conversation and the imposing mountain view in the patio is sure to make any occasion special. If you are looking for an authentic dining escapade, you’ll find it in Thyme.

5857 N. Mesa, Suite 24 • (915) 585-0309


Great American Steakhouse

West El Paso: 630 Sunland Park Dr.

Central El Paso: 1300 Airway Blvd.

East El Paso: 1345 George Dieter Dr.

Vinton: 600 Valley Chili Rd.

Trans Mountain: 9800 Gateway North Blvd.

What kind of food do you specialize in?

Welcome to Great American Steakhouse, where hospitality is not just a business but a genuine passion for serving others. In 2005, we assumed the reins of the iconic Great American Land & Cattle Company brand from Jack Nunn, embarking on an 18-year journey of evolution while preserving the fundamental elements that set us apart.

Why did you get into this industry?

Our journey in the industry began in 1994 when Eduardo Orozco, rooted in the El Paso and Juarez region, decided to venture into the realm of hospitality. Eduardo's entrepreneurial spirit first led him to introduce Wendy’s to Ciudad Juarez, marking the inception of our franchise endeavors. Today, our commitment to culinary excellence and community service shines through as we proudly own and operate a remarkable total of 75 restaurants across Mexico and El Paso, embodying our passion for enriching dining experiences in the regions we call home.

What do you want readers to know about you?

Great American Steakhouse's triumph is intricately tied to El Paso, and its success is a testament to the support and appreciation of our local community. We strive to elevate the culinary landscape of El Paso, recognizing that the city's diverse and flavorful cuisine is a true reflection of its rich cultural tapestry.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

At our establishment, freshness is not just a commitment: it's a way of crafting culinary experiences. We pride ourselves on the meticulous process of creating everything as fresh as possible. From baking our own bread and crafting delectable desserts to precision-cutting our meat and grinding burger patties in-house, every step is a testament to our dedication to quality.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

Our connection to the El Paso community runs deep, rooted in our origin and understanding of the local pulse. Serving our fellow El Pasoans is not just a business endeavor; it's a genuine passion fueled by our familiarity with the preferences of our people. We recognize the importance of embracing change.

provided by Great American Steakhouse

6127 North Mesa St.

Now open Thursday to Sunday

Free ceviche on Sunday 12pm - 7pm

The only CHAVORUCOS PARTY in El Paso, with the best DJs!

56 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photography provided by PLAY Bar & Lounge

Morra M Í a 11250 Montwood Dr, El Paso, TX 79936 (915) 594-2841

morra mÍa

morra mÍa_elpaso

What kind of cuisine do you specialize in?

Morra Mía presents a revolutionary Mexican dine-in experience specializing in the authentic flavors of Mexico City, Jalisco and Puebla. Our concept focuses on authentic dishes, like our made in-house mole poblano and our pozole with imported maíz Cacahuazintle, while keeping up with more modern trends at Mexican restaurants in other major cities.

Why did you get into this industry?

As a city with the most Mexican restaurants in the U.S., we wanted to offer something unique!

Voted El Paso’s “Best Mexican” restaurant by our very much appreciated local fans, makes us feel incredibly grateful and part of an extraordinary community! Our passion for food, hospitality and innovation lead to the creation of this concept.

What do you want readers to know about you?

Our mission is to create an outstanding dine-in experience one customer at a time, and our team strives to accomplish this every time a guest comes through our doors. For us, our visitors’ happiness is what makes us feel happy and satisfied!

How do you stand out from your competitors?

Our bold cocktails, made from scratch food, fresh ingredients, baked-daily goods, and unique atmosphere make Morra Mía the tastiest of options for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Morra Mía is backed by a team of restaurant entrepreneurs whose talented members have more than 200 combined years of experience in the industry, both in Mexico City and El Paso.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

We bet on our ideas and thanks to wide public praise, we are now proud to be planning a second location in the bustling Five Points area, which will be opening this coming Fall of 2024.




Tacotote is a Mexican restaurant that was born 30 years ago in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Tacotote's grill offers high-quality imported grilled meat with authentic seasoning. It also offers handmade tortillas and other varieties of products focused on traditional taqueria cuisine. At each branch, you can find an extensive salsa bar that is prepared daily, including roasted, fried, and fresh salsas. What sets us apart from other taquerias? Quality.

58 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photography provided by Taco Tote
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 59 Photography provided by RIPE Eatery The Ripe Experience is what you get when you put together expertly prepared cuisine, and unparalleled customer service. - Mike Norwich, Co-Owner 910 East Redd Rd. • (915) 584-7473 •

Italian Kitchen

2923 Pershing Dr. (915) 565-4041

The Italian Kitchen has been locally owned and operated since 1948 and considered to be an El Paso staple.

Our homemade Italian recipes have been carried down from generations. Sam and Rita Maranto started this business in 1948 and have carried it down to their grandson Santiago Alonso III.

Santiago and his mother, Roseann Alonso, opened the second location, Italian Kitchen West, on March 20th 2006 and both locations continue to serve the El Paso area with the same quality homemade Italian food.

We are dedicated to also doing large volume catering and private parties. We also have an extensive wine list as well as offering an outside dining experience to enjoy your nice glass of wine. Live music and featured food specials on weekends.






Marilú Alemán, founder of Event Creators

What do you specialize in?

My focus is Event and Wedding Planning locally in El Paso, Texas and Destination Weddings. I chose this field because I love helping couples have their dream wedding.

How are your weddings unique?

I ease the wedding planning process by reducing their stress having constant communication with my clients, and by only working with the best wedding vendors in the region. I also address any problems that could come up to make sure that they enjoy their wedding day worry free.

Why should couples turn to you for their nuptial needs?

I specialize in planning and logistics of events. I forecast potential problems by addressing them before they become a real problem. I consider myself very friendly and attentive. I really care about my clients’ wedding, and I plan it and treat it as if it was my wedding. My clients’ reviews confirm this.

What do you want readers to know about you?

Event Creators staff is fun to work with. We have over 18 years of event planning experience and we really care about our clients. We love colorful, creative and out of the box weddings. We love being different! We welcome all couples and we always create something unique for them.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 61 Photography provided by Event Creators
62 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: STEPHAN LEMAIRE 2201 E. Mills Ave., El Paso, TX, 79901 (915) 373-7840

4172 N. Mesa • (915) 351-0775 •

The Block Table And Tap has been serving customers for a dozen years. The restaurant is an industrial chic spot featuring globally inspired food, craft cocktails, beers and wine. When in the mood, The Block is a great place for a little bit of everything. Recently, The Block has undergone a revamp. Three culinary trained chefs have now been hired to bring you the best tasting chef-inspired dishes, fast & consistent every time. Jacob Gutierrez is our new Head Chef. He and His Team have taken the original recipes, recreated and elevated them for the best tasting dishes to date.

The Block Is under new management, with new ideals in place to serve our customers in the best way possible. The block has three owners. A Doctor, an International Logistics Mogul, and a Pool Guy. Our three different thoughts inspire the best of what we think an amazing restaurant is for everyone. From service to environment to the best tasting food and drinks that we love. All three owners have a consistent thought on operating Ideals and Service. We are trying to bring the best food at the best value for everyone. Join us for lunch, dinner or for our legendary weekend brunch.


Moose's DraftHouse

1550 Hawkins Blvd, El Paso, TX 79925

(915) 500-6104

What kind of cuisine do you specialize in?

We specialize in BBQ and “Border BBQ” infused foods. The focus of our business is to grow BBQ in the Borderland, and help put El Paso on the Texas BBQ map. The reason I chose this specialty is because we live in Texas and Texas is known for BBQ. Since the Borderland is known for our Mexican food, why not fuse them together?

Why did you get into this industry?

The reason I got into this industry is my love and passion for open-fire cooking and smoking meats. Once I started the business, I met my General Manager and Chef, Will Chavez, who took my love for cooking to another level. What inspired me to pursue this career was the art of cooking with fire. I’m motivated by how much can be done with food, and the impact you can have on people by serving the simplest of dishes.

What do you want readers to know about you?

We’re a draft house with over 20 varieties of beer on draft and offer much more than just bar food. We offer BBQ and BBQinfused dishes, including a delicious BBQ-infused breakfast menu on the weekends and we also offer catering. We invite

Moose’s Drafthouse

Moose’s Drafthouse

readers to come to Moose’s DraftHouse and experience all the ways we pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service, a warm family atmosphere, and some really great BBQinfused cuisine!

How do you stand out from your competitors?

We’re a scratch- kitchen serving unique foods right inside a traditional draft house. We offer smoked, fall-off-the bone turkey legs the first Saturday of every month, and our streetstyle tacos are made from mouth-watering, smoked brisket, pulled pork, and chicken. Our burgers are made with our prime brisket, which we grind and season in-house. We serve “egg rancheros,” made with corn tortillas and brisket, topped with two eggs smothered in our own Chile Con Queso. Our breakfast sandwich consists of our smoked brisket, topped with an egg, raspberry jam and cream cheese, and is out of this world!

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

We love to serve El Paso because of the rich culture. This gives us the opportunity to bring something out of the ordinary and truly unique to our city. What really makes my job special is my staff and our customers, of which many have become lifetime friends.


Rosa’s Cantina

3454 Doniphan Dr. (915) 833-0402

What do you specialize in?

Rosa’s Cantina is a bar and restaurant that has been open for 67 years. We cater to locals, regulars, and lots of tourists. We support local musicians as well by offering live music five nights a week.

Why did you get into this industry?

I chose this career 17 years ago, having never been in the bar or restaurant industry. The fact that Rosa’s Cantina is an icon in El Paso was the motivating factor. We purchased it from the original owners, Beto and Anita Zubia, who opened Rosa’s Cantina in 1957.

What do you want readers to know about you?

We pride ourselves on providing a fun, clean, unique environment for all our patrons. People love the warm welcome they receive from the minute they enter and the great customer service throughout their stay. We offer a variety of Mexican dishes as well as burgers, nachos and some of the best chicken wings in town.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, there is nothing more unique than Rosa’s Cantina. It is like nothing else throughout the city. People travel from all over the world to see what we have to offer.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

Owning a piece of El Paso history is something to be proud of and we cherish Rosa’s Cantina. After 67 years of El Pasoans continued support, we don’t plan on going anywhere.


What kind of cuisine do you specialize in?

We specialize in traditional Mexican food. Our founders, Don Julio and Guadalupe Ramirez, started this tradition back in 1944, in Ciudad Juarez.

Why did you get into this industry?

Our founders had a strong love for Mexican recipes, and we have followed this tradition for 80 years in the region. This tradition has motivated us for three generations, and it’s still growing.

What do you want readers to know about you?

We are proud to maintain many of the original recipes, and it's rewarding to see how even new customers make them part of their favorite selections.

East (915) 591-7676

8050 Gateway Boulevard East

Far East

(915) 855-1537

3630 Joe Battle Blvd.

West (915) 581-2247

7470 Cimarron Market Bldg 11

How do you stand out from your competitors?

A very distinctive touch of Julio’s Mexican Food is that we offer a unique service and decor experience to all our guests, in addition to top-quality ingredients in all of our dishes. The flavor is carefully maintained through a lot of dedication and continued involvement from the owners and the kitchen staff. We also offer seasonal lunch options with new items, allowing you to experience dishes from different Mexican regions.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

El Paso has been our home for all three generations. We love the community and the unique Mexican- American culture that has been created here. We are part of it, and we are here to maintain the flavors of our region.

Photography provided by Julio’s Mexican Food

4001 N. Mesa • (915) 300-0377 •

What kind of cuisine do you specialize in?

Our restaurant specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine, with a focus on traditional recipes passed down through generations. We pride ourselves on creating dishes that reflect the rich culinary heritage of Mexico, using only the freshest local ingredients. I chose this specialty because I wanted to celebrate my roots and share the warmth and complexity of Mexican culture through food.

Why did you get into this industry?

My passion for Mexican cuisine was inspired by my family, especially the women who were masters of the kitchen. I grew up surrounded by the aromas and flavors of homemade Mexican dishes, which instilled in me a deep appreciation for our culinary traditions.

What do you want readers to know about you?

When people dine with us, they're not just customers but guests in our home. We strive to create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone can enjoy authentic Mexican dishes crafted with love and care. Our restaurant prides itself on its commitment to authenticity, quality, and hospitality.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

What makes our business unique is our commitment to traditional cooking methods and recipes, some of which have been in my family for generations. We go the extra mile to source the highest quality ingredients and prepare our dishes from scratch. As a Latina-owned and operated business, we bring a personal touch and deep cultural understanding to every aspect of our restaurant, from the menu to the décor.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

El Paso is a city with a rich cultural tapestry and a deep appreciation for Mexican cuisine. The community's diversity and warmth make it the perfect place to share the flavors of Mexico. El Paso's unique position, straddling two countries and cultures, allows us to serve a wide audience, from locals who have grown up with Mexican food to visitors seeking an authentic culinary experience. Serving in El Paso is special because it feels like we're at the heart of a cultural exchange, celebrating the best of what Mexican cuisine has to offer in a city that embraces diversity and tradition.


Debra Hanna,

owner 4700 N. Mesa, Suite D2 (915) 474-7025

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in cupcakes, of course! I also love creating custom cakes for all types of celebrations. The focus of my business is to make people happy, provide exceptional customerservice and help make celebrations a little bit sweeter,

Why did you get into this industry?

One afternoon I was scrolling through social media and came across twinkies that were decorated to look like Minions. I decided I wanted to make them. I Googled to find out places where you can buy dessert decorating supplies and then I walked into a Michael’s Craft Store for the very first time. I was amazed at the variety of cake decorating supplies! I ended up making those Minion twinkies and was hooked!

What do you want readers to know about you?

Baking started out as a hobby for me very late in my life. I was working a regular “9 to 5” job and began selling cupcakes and cakes on the side. I kept challenging myself and in October of 2021, at the age of 55, I opened my bakery on Mesa Street! I left my regular job in December of the same year to focus on my bakery full time. I take pride in the presentation, creativity and most of all the taste of my cupcakes and cakes.

How do you stand out from your competitors?

I do not really focus on my competitors. I focus on what my customers want and try to provide the best product. I also offer delicious vegan, gluten free and gluten and dairy free baked treats and can make custom cupcakes and cakes to fit any dietary restriction or preference.

Why do you love to serve El Paso?

I love to serve El Paso because the families here are festive and love to celebrate, which provides me with lots of opportunities to bake something delicious and memorable. My customers are very loyal and supportive and a lot of them have been with me since I was baking out of my home!


Love Me Knot

(915) 307-1240

Veteran Owned and Operated

What do you specialize in?

At Love Me Knot, we take pride in offering exceptional wedding officiant services throughout the El Paso and New Mexico regions. We provide a truly unique experience tailored to each couple’s individual love story and vision for their special day. Our mission is simple: to celebrate love in all its beautiful forms and to ensure that every couple feels embraced and valued.

How are your weddings unique?

We bring a blend of warmth, professionalism, and attention to detail to every ceremony. With a passion for crafting personalized experiences, we work closely with couples to create meaningful and memorable wedding ceremonies that reflect their unique love story.

Why should couples turn to you for their nuptial needs?

As wedding officiants, we have the privilege of uniting couples in love through heartfelt and personalized ceremonies. We strive to create a ceremony that authentically reflects the love story of each couple. From intimate elopements to grand celebrations, we are committed to crafting a meaningful and

unforgettable experience that celebrates the unique bond shared between the two individuals.

Why should couples turn to you for their nuptial needs?

Every couple is welcomed and celebrated! We pride ourselves in crafting a personalized experience that honors diversity and inclusivity. At the heart of our approach is the commitment to truly understanding and connecting with each of our clients on a personal level. We believe that the foundation of a successful collaboration begins with building a genuine and authentic relationship.

What do you want readers to know about you?

Our driving force is to spread kindness and warmth by guiding couples as they embark on the next chapter of their lives together. Our passion lies in crafting a heartfelt and personalized experience that serves as a beautiful reflection of the profound bond shared between two individuals. Let Love Me Knot be the architect of your unforgettable wedding journey, where every moment is imbued with love, sincerity, and authenticity.


Laura Carrillo Designs

For more than 30 years, Laura Carrillo has been a name synonymous with elegance and style.

Her floral designs and impeccable taste in home decor have made her a fixture in many of the border area’s most beautiful homes. She grew up in her sister city of Ciudad Juarez and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Tecnologico de Juarez shortly after giving birth to her first child.

As a newlywed to Mr. Abiel Carrillo, she discovered a real talent in playing tennis. During much of her first 15 years of marriage, Laura Carrillo dedicated herself to being one of the few 5.0 tennis players in the area and held the title of state champion in her native Chihuahua. She mentions that she met many of her good friends in El Paso through tennis tournaments and friendly games. Now, holding her title as one of the most exclusive designers and decorators here in the state of Texas, she says that many people remember her from playing tennis matches against her.

Although she has been passionate about tennis for a long time, there is only one thing now that occupies her mind: beautiful designs and her family.

Many people have witnessed the work that Laura Carrillo has done in weddings, homes, businesses, and silk florals, but few realize how passionate she is about her work. Driving for excellence is one quality that makes Laura Carrillo different from the rest, but the real quality is in the great services and exciting ideas she brings to her clients.

Laura Carrillo Designs
2137 E. Mills El Paso, Texas 79901 (915) 581-1877


No start-up is too small or too big for us. We offer customized services that align with your budget and requirements.

We believe in empowering our clients and providing training so that you can handle certain tasks in-house. You determine your comfort level, and we deliver the services you need. We offer service packages tailored to fit your needs and budget.

Rest assured that we are always available to answer your emails, texts, and phone calls in a timely manner. As your start-up grows, we can expand our services to support your evolving needs.

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The Elephant Preferred Perfume

March 2024 72

The medical team worked gracefully as ballerinas to ensure the patient survived.

Doctors and their assistants conducted tests and x-rays that were run back and forth between the operating room and laboratory, while the anesthesiologist watched the clock and oxygen levels – ever mindful of the risks associated with the patient being under for an extensive period of time. The surgery wouldn’t be successful if the patient failed to wake up following the procedure.

Someone brought in a circular saw, the best instrument to file down the tooth of a hungry elephant in pain.

For Savannah the Asian elephant, the surgery was necessary because she couldn’t eat; an overgrown tooth had been piercing her inner mouth and she was not a happy elephant.

Imagine, a multi-ton animal who is hangry? Luckily, the surgery was a success.

Savannah woke atop a soft bed of mattresses, arose to cheers from the medical team, and was able to eat again.

“The whole experience was testimony to the kind of care that animals receive

in accredited zoos,” says Renee Neuert, Executive Director of the El Paso Zoological

Society. “To watch that whole procedure, with people from all over the world working together – on Savannah – to assist in her medical treatment was life changing for me.”

For Neuert, observing the synchronicity, compassion, and care that went into ensuring Savannah’s survival from surgery are factors that contributed to her passion for her job.

Savannah, as well as other Asian elephants who lived at the El Paso Zoo, like Mona and Juno, are larger-than-life figures who have contributed to the core memories and lifestyles of many El Pasoans for generations. From field trips and family visits, to community events and education, a trip to the El Paso Zoo has always garnered interest in the elephants.

Savannah was the world’s oldest Asian elephant in managed care, a remarkable achievement for a creature of her size. Following Savannah’s death in early 2024, the El Paso Zoological Society is now working to determine the best way to commemorate El Paso’s elephants.

“They really are icons,” says Neuert. “A lot of people go see the elephants first when they visit a zoo. They’re so large, they’re so intelligent, and they’re so interesting to watch.”

Neuert explains that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has been conducting research on elephant conservation that includes providing guidelines for AZAaccredited facilities – like the El Paso Zoo – to abide by in order to ensure the health and well-being of the animals. The AZA manages close to 500 animal programs that are responsible for developing, implementing, and supporting animal management, science, and conservation dedicated to elephants.

According to the AZA, “Zoos have a unique opportunity to advance scientific knowledge of elephants by studying the health, nutrition, welfare, general physiology, behavior, and reproduction of the animals in their care. This knowledge can also be applied to 73

elephant conservation and management in the wild. AZA-accredited zoos also promote elephant conservation by educating people about the threats elephants face in the wild and inspiring them to take action on their behalf.”

Neueurt explains the AZA’s mindfulness of the mental health of animals like elephants, as well as another stipulation that says living in a herd is optimal for their health.

“What this means is that we can’t have elephants by themselves and they have to have a lot of space,” says Neuert. “Elephants are very social, and the best scenario would be a grandma, a mom, dad, and a baby.”

Neuert says the El Paso Zoo will not have elephants again because the facilities do not have the space to support the needs of a herd according to the AZA stipulations.

“It’s sad but it really is for the mental health and welfare of the elephants,” she says. “It’s better for them in the long run, and you’ll still be able to see them at larger zoos.”

Honoring the legacy of Savannah, the 71-year old Asian elephant who lived at the El Paso Zoo since 1997, involves recognizing her many significant contributions to conservation, advocating for the welfare of elephants, and fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between humans and wildlife. In doing so, the El Paso Zoological Society hopes that continued efforts to protect endangered species and preserve biodiversity for future generations will be inspired.

“Savannah loved the individual attention she received while she was with us, the individual care and quality time with the keepers she loved so much and who loved her so much,” says Olivia

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The Elephant Preferred Perfume

The Elephant Preferred Perfume

Siqueiros, Events and Social Media Manager at the El Paso Zoological Society. “She knew she was the star and loved the attention.”

Born in 1953, Savannah journeyed through life with dignity, resilience, and charm, and left an indelible mark on the community and all who had the privilege of knowing her. Her presence at the El Paso Zoo was not only a source of wonder for visitors, but also a symbol of the El Paso Zoological Society’s commitment to conservation and the welfare of creatures great and small.

Throughout her years, Savannah delighted countless visitors with her majestic presence, serene demeanor, playful antics, and love of the spotlight. Her gentle nature endeared her to zookeepers and visitors alike, fostering a deep bond that transcended mere observation by creating relationships. “The way we honor Savannah is by taking a

look at the positive impact we can have for wildlife on this planet because they really need us now more than ever,” says Siqueiros.

The relationship between people and Asian elephants in the wild spans millennia and is characterized by a rich tapestry of cultural, ecological, and socioeconomic dynamics as both species navigate the challenges of coexistence within an ever-changing landscape. Conservationists agree that providing educational opportunities, as well as fostering mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation is essential to ensure the survival of the magnificent creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Throughout history, Asian elephants have held a revered status across a multitude of societies, serving as symbols of strength, wisdom, and spiritual significance.

and Operated Since 1948 Go to and find your nearest location today El Paso Owned

“Savannah was the first animal I met at the El Paso Zoo, way back when I was a volunteer more than 10 years ago,” says Siqueiros. “It sounds so cliche, but because of her eyes, her soul, and her spirit, I knew I was in the right place when I met her. Like, this is where I’m supposed to be. Savannah did that for a lot of people.”

In El Paso, most will agree that some of Savannah’s most charming character traits were her lust for life and appetite for everything.

“She LOVED food,” explains Neuert, “she loved all foods and fruits but one time she was given an onion. She put the whole thing in her mouth and was chewing on it, then a tear came out of her eye,” she laughs.

Among Savannah’s favorite foods were watermelons and pumpkins tossed to her that she would smash with a stomp of her great foot; donuts delivered by the dozen for special occasions like her birthday; and oranges.

March 2024
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Elephant Preferred Perfume

The Elephant Preferred Perfume

Savannah LOVED oranges.

“She would squeeze the oranges given to her by her keepers, all the juice would run down her trunk and onto the floor,” says Siqueiros. “Then, with her trunk, she would rub some of the orange juice onto her ankles – like a perfume! She was a true queen.”

To honor Savannah’s legacy, Neuert and Siqueiros agree that contributing to

conservation and education are a great place to start.

“Sometimes people think that to support wildlife, you have to go to places like Indonesia or Africa,” explains Siqueiros of the common misconception, “but there are ways to help at home by supporting the local zoo and other organization that advocate for the education and promotion of the value of wildlife makes a big impact.”

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Birds of a Yellow Feather

The impact of local animal lovers and biologists are having a resounding effect around the globe after a species thought lost was recently rediscovered. Recently, a team of researchers from UTEP on a six-week expedition to Itombwe Massif, a mountain range located in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, captured the first photo of a Yellowcrested Helmetshrike.

The photo is remarkable because the species had not been seen in almost 20 years.

“It was a mind-blowing experience to come across these birds. We knew they might be possible here, but I was not prepared for how spectacular and unique they would appear in life,” says Michael Harvey, Ph.D, an ornithologist and UTEP assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

While the discovery may have seemed toogood-to-be-true, the scientists’ photos of the helmetshrikes were reviewed and confirmed by Cameron Rutt, Ph.D., who oversees the Lost Birds project at the American Bird Conservancy.

During the six-week expedition, Harvey co-led the trip with Eli Greenbaum, Ph.D., a fellow professor of Biological Sciences at UTEP, who were joined by ornithologist Matt Brady, as well as a team of Congolese researchers from the Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles.

The dedicated team of scientists trekked for more than 75 miles on foot through the Itombwe Massif to study birds, amphibians, and reptiles throughout the journey.

Harvey and Brady happened upon the Yellow-crested Helmetshrike, which is endemic to the western slopes of the Albertine Rift of Central Africa that

Harvey says is a region that has traditionally been nearly inaccessible because of war and safety issues, but has recently become less dangerous to travelers.

“Right now is a golden opportunity to protect these tropical forests, so that we don’t lose species like the helmetshrike before they are known and studied,” says Harvey.

The expedition took place from December 2023 to January 2024 and produced other significant discoveries. For example, herpetologists rediscovered the Redbellied Squeaker frog, which had not been seen since the 1950s, and was confirmed by David Blackburn, Ph.D., professor at the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History. The discoveries are testament to the valuable work being conducted by UTEP faculty and students.

“UTEP’s global impact is showcased through not just the accomplishments of its graduates but also through groundbreaking and captivating discoveries, exemplified here by the contributions of Drs. Greenbaum and Harvey,” said UTEP College of Science Dean Robert Kirken, Ph.D. “I hope this discovery illuminates and inspires students and scientists worldwide.”


The Magic of Magellanic Penguins

March 2024

The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens recently celebrated the arrival of a delightful new addition to El Paso’s animal family: a colony of Magellanic Penguins. The charming creatures have taken to their new home in a specially-designed habitat that replicates their natural environment, allowing visitors to observe the beautiful birds face-to-face while learning about conservation efforts that are critical to the survival of the species.

“In the past few months, we’ve been acclimating the penguins to El Paso and their new exhibit,” says Kenneth Reilly, Supervisor African and Penguin Supervisor. “Once they arrived at their exhibit, they jumped right into their pool and have been there ever since,” he adds.

But, why penguins in the desert?

Magellanic Penguins are native to the coasts of South America, where they live in temperatures that often reach and exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. To help the penguins beat the heat, their habitat at the El Paso Zoo includes shade covers, overhangs and burrows, chilled water, and plenty of air-conditioned indoor space.

“They’re warm climate creatures, and in the wild they can swim from Chile to Peru so they’re used to weather that reaches high temperatures,” says Reilly.

Visitors are invited to watch the playful penguins dive and delight in their exhibit, and interact with each other.

The colony consists of five males and five females, who Reilly says are easily distinguishable.

“If you look at their wings, they each have a band on one of their wings,” he explains. “If it’s on their right wing, it’s a male; if it’s on the left wing, it’s a female.”

Each band is a different color so that Reilly and his colleagues can know who is who, and many of the penguins lived together prior to coming to El Paso.

Marvel, a male penguin, moved to El Paso with his two sisters, Forklift and Tonka, from the zoo in Jacksonville, and bonded pair Ben and Jerry journeyed to Texas from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Of the 10 penguins in the colony, one stands out.

“Admiral Fancypants is one of the fan favorites,” says Reilly. “You can usually see him leading the colony around as they swim in their pool.”

The arrival of the Magellanic Penguins underscores the El Paso Zoological Society’s commitment to conservation and education that invites visitors to celebrate wildlife while also learning about the importance of protecting wildlife and wild places.

“I expect to have some chicks in the coming years. We’ve been approved to breed these

penguins, and we follow a Species Survival Plan,” says Reilly. “What that means is that we look at all the genes of these penguins and determine who’s the best to breed, that way we have all kinds of longevity and good health.”

The purpose of a Species Surival Plan, Reilly explains, is to ensure a genetically diverse and self-sustaining population of a particular species. To achieve this, breeding is carefully managed in captivity while also working to conserve species in the wild.

Although humans are involved in the genetic matchmaking process, the partnering and parenting is left up to the penguins.

“We want the penguins to do all the breeding and all the egg care while we’ll be behind the scenes doing observations and checking in on them,” says Reilly. “Once mom lays the eggs, mom and dad will take turns incubating,” he adds.

Magellenic Penguins mate for life in the wild, but Reilly says this isn’t always the case in zoo settings.

“They do actually mate for life and bring pebbles to their partners in the wild,” he says. “However, in zoos, we’ve seen some penguins who have other boyfriends or girlfriends on the side.”

Blame it on plenty of fish in the exhibit.


Healing Paws How Pets Transform Healthcare in El Paso

To begin with, until recently I did not own a pet. Never had – and honestly – never wanted one.

Growing up I had a few traumatic events with dogs my friends owned and as they say, “I was good.”

However through the years as a physician, I have witnessed the profound impact that pets can have on our health and well-being. Beyond their role as companions, pets play a pivotal role in improving healthcare outcomes for individuals and communities alike:

Companionship and Stress Reduction

The most obvious and common example of how pets can improve global health is seen in a myriad of hospitals and clinics. In these places, stress is a constant companion for both patients and healthcare providers. However, the simple presence of a furry friend can work wonders in alleviating tension and promoting relaxation. “Emotional support pet” is a well known phrase and studies have shown that interacting with pets can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and elevate mood, thereby fostering a more conducive environment for healing.This effect is not only for patients. Healthcare workers returning home to the wagging tail and enthusiastic greeting of my new canine companion has become a cherished source of solace, as well.

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Physical Health Benefits

Beyond their therapeutic effects on mental well-being, pets also contribute to our physical health in tangible ways. Daily walks, typically with dogs through our many scenic parks in El Paso, not only provide valuable exercise but also encourage greater outdoor activity and social interaction. In a city renowned for its natural beauty and abundant sunshine, these outdoor excursions offer a welcome respite from the confines of the clinic and serve as a reminder of the importance of staying active for overall health. Moreover, research indicates that pet ownership is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease and improved immune function, underscoring the profound impact that our four-legged friends can have on our physiological well-being.

Emotional Support and Therapy

Social Connection and Community Engagement

2 3 4

For patients grappling with chronic illness or undergoing intensive treatment, the emotional support provided by pets can be invaluable. As a physician, I have witnessed the transformative power of animal-assisted therapy in enhancing the recovery process and fostering a sense of hope and resilience. Whether through cuddly comfort animals in pediatric wards or trained therapy dogs offering companionship to elderly patients, the presence of pets has been shown to reduce pain perception, enhance emotional coping mechanisms, and promote overall psychological well-being. In a city as diverse and culturally rich as El Paso, where families often face unique challenges and adversities, the therapeutic bond between humans and animals serves as a universal language of compassion and healing.

In addition to their individual benefits, pets have the remarkable ability to forge connections and foster a sense of community among diverse populations. I have recently become a first-time pet owner (technically, DJ and Marshmallow – our COVID rabbits – will not approve) with older teenage children. I have been struck by the bonds they are forming with Lylah. This experience transcends age, and I find myself growing more and more engaged and attaching to our baby black lab. Across ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (and species), pets serve as catalysts for meaningful interactions and mutual support. In a city known for its strong sense of community and cultural heritage, pets can serve as ambassadors of goodwill, bridging divides and uniting individuals in their shared love and appreciation for all creatures great and small. We need no other example than our beloved baseball team’s mascot: a Chihuahua.

The integration of pets into healthcare practices holds tremendous promise for improving the well-being of individuals and communities in El Paso and beyond. From their ability to alleviate stress and promote physical health to their role in providing emotional support and fostering social connection, pets offer a multifaceted approach to healing that transcends traditional medical interventions. As a physician and firsttime pet owner, I am inspired by the profound impact that animals have on our lives and remain committed to harnessing their therapeutic potential to create a healthier, more compassionate future for all.

March 2024
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For Love of Lizards

The popularity of bearded dragons as household pets and emotional support animals has surged dramatically in recent years. Known for their gentle demeanors, manageable size, and exotic appearances, these reptiles have captivated the hearts of animal lovers, as well as those seeking companionship.

According to Gia Soleil Espinoza, “mother” of many bearded dragons, their amiable nature and relatively low-maintenance requirements make them an ideal choice for those seeking a unique and fulfilling pet ownership experience.

Don’t miss these fun facts about bearded dragons:

87 March 2024
1. Excellent tree climbers 2. Their “beards” communicate their emotional state 3. Can regrow teeth 4. Collect water on their heads to survive harsh desert climates 5. Communicate with nods and waves 6. Change color like chameleons 7. Sleep standing up 8. Run at human speed 9. Brumate in winter 10. Have a “third eye” called the parietal eye

Of Tales & Tails

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Lima Bean

Over the course of this past year, the city of El Paso has seen the rise of an unfortunate problem that has proven a challenge to resolve: the overcrowding of unhoused pets at El Paso Animal Services. The El Paso Animal Services team has made an active effort to accommodate these wayward souls while taking proactive measures within their community to find these needy animals their forever home. Enter Library Storytime with Shelter Pets, one of the many initiatives El Paso Animal Services has implemented to increase the chances for adoption and provide homeless cats and dogs an opportunity to socialize with members of our community at one of our many public library locations.

The heartwarming project, open to the public, joins forces with the El Paso Public Libraries to educate and create everlasting connections between reading and animals. When visitors attend these puppy and kitten events, a member of the Animal Services team will share entrancing animal-

inspired stories that highlight the bonds of friendships as they create teachable moments on the importance of the responsibilities that come with pet care and adoption while in the company of Animal Services dog and cat adoptees. Listeners are allowed to engage with team members and ask questions that grant them the opportunity to get a real glimpse into future pet interactions from a trusted member of the community who has a wide range of experience not just with the potential adoptees within the immediate space, but with many of the other adoptees currently residing at El Paso Animal Services.

However, the fun and education don’t end after the story’s been read.

Visitors are given the opportunity to interact and engage with Animal Services’ adoptable dogs and cats. At the same time, team members stand aside as guides and teachers,

educating visitors with helpful advice on pet care as they gain first-hand experience with the unique personality traits of the Animal Services’ adoptee they interact with.

What is the best way one might interact with any dog or cat? Why, with play, of course!

Animal Services and the Public Libraries also feature a designated craft section where visitors can create their own personalized dog or cat toy. In designing these toys and engaging with their furry companions, guests can see just what makes these future pets tick and the benefits of such play engagements.

The team’s efforts at El Paso Animal Services highlight what happens when people who love animals sit behind the wheel. These 91 March 2024

team members have taken steps to offer shelter pets every opportunity to be seen by the public through more than a screen. This in-person interaction between the adoptable pets of Animal Services and the citizens of El Paso removes the all too familiar disconnect that many have grown to feel, especially in this modern age, with the ever-flowing influx of information that floods into our devices the minute we light up the screen.

in play at a fresh, new location. Visitors are encouraged to attend these events even if they cannot adopt at the time, as these affectionate cats and dogs are always the most welcoming to their new friends.

Who knows? You might discover your new best friend when you visit, like Lima Bean!

Meet Lima Bean!

One might say that taking these moments to read, play, or craft in these interactions with adoptable shelter pets at these storytime events offers visitors a temporary respite from all the noise.

Just as these adoptable dogs and cats have proven to offer a moment of peace in our chaotic lives, these moments of interaction also provide these loving future pets an opportunity to take a step away from the difficulties they might be facing while waiting for their new home as well.

Instances for acclimation and socialization are vital for these dogs and cats, much like it is for humans, as these pets are granted the chance to take a breath of fresh air from

This program between El Paso Animal Services and El Paso Public Libraries is a positive one that only serves to benefit two- and four-legged friends alike. Through the efforts of these two teams, individuals who otherwise would not be given the opportunity to interact and learn about these animals in need are offered a chance to become a positive experience in the lives of these pet hopefuls.

For those looking to experience this educational activity with the most loveable dogs and cats this city has to offer, taking a look at the El Paso Animal Services website and Instagram account will provide you with the most up-to-date information on when and where to make your attendance.

Lima Bean is a lively and playful girl, always ready for an adventure. Her boundless energy is contagious, making her the perfect companion for outdoor activities. Hiking is one of her absolute favorites, where she can explore new scents and revel in the great outdoors. Her enthusiasm extends to a game of fetch, and she loves nothing more than chasing after a ball and bringing it back with a wagging tail.

In the home, Lima Bean is reported to be a superstar! She seems to be potty trained, and loves watching TV with you! Her favorite movie so far is Tarzan. Lima Bean is also a well-mannered passenger in the car. One of Lima Bean’s most endearing traits is her affection for children. She adores spending time with kids, showering them with love and relishing in belly rubs and attention. She has also demonstrated the potential to live with cats with slow introductions!

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Lima Bean

Although she may be a bit jumpy and a strong puller on the leash, Lima Bean’s enthusiasm is part of her charm. With some guidance, she easily redirects her energy and is a quick learner when it comes to following commands. She can be selective with her dog friends, so we recommend a meet and greet to see if it’s a good fit or to be the only dog in the home.

With a heart full of love and a tail that never stops wagging, Lima Bean is more than a pet - she’s a source of joy, laughter, and unwavering companionship. Adopting Lima Bean means welcoming a bundle of energy and affection into your home, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Corporate Office Location

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NMLS #256179 (915) 593-3111

Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

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NMLS #290019 (915) 791-4170

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Buzz Adams (KLAQ)

Glenn Garza (KLAQ)

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Victoria Olivia

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The Italian Kitchen

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Crave Kitchen and Bar

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Dog-Friendly PLACES

Dogs are important members of our families, and El Paso is all about celebrating family. Throughout the community are dog-friendly places and businesses that provide opportunities for dog owners and their fur babies to enrich their experience in El Paso by enjoying new experiences, meeting new people, and strengthening their bonds.

Don’t miss these El Paso attractions that welcome four-legged friends:


• Aloft Hotel

• Hampton Inn and Suites

• Hilton Garden Inn

• Hotel Indigo

• Hotel Paso Del Norte

• Marriott

• The Plaza Pioneer Park

Bars and Restaurants

• Ripe

• Eloise

• The Kitchen at 150 Sunset

• Aceitunas Beer Garden

• Hope and Anchor

• Tippi Teas

• Piedmont Cafe

• The Hoppy Monk

• Old Sheepdog Brewery

• Gringo Theory Patio Bar

• The Lucky Dog Beer Garden

• Mutts Canine Cantina


• Dog Park at Westside Community Park

• Memorial Park

• K-9 Agent Bulder Memorial Dog Splash Pad at Pavo Real Park

• Argal Park

• Franklin Mountains State Park

• Dog Park at Eastwood Park

• Tierra Buena Dog Park March 2024

The Best of 2023

A Night in Versailles at the El Paso County Coliseum treated guests to a night of gilded fun that featured the Best of 2023 winner’s ceremony, gilded decor, live music, dancing, and more that The City Magazine has never seen before. We can’t wait until next year’s celebration!


February Launch Party

Guests flocked to Great American Steakhouse for a “Feast of Fashion’’ to celebrate local coutourier, Jose Gaucin’s, success as a self-taught designer and new adventure as a fashion student in New York City.

| Photos by: KATHERINE scene
112 March 2024 march
Advertiser INDEX 104.3 HIT FM .................................................................................... Pg. 42 Alfredo H. Arellano PMHCNS-BC, PA Pg. 37 Ana Square Microblading & Permanent Makeup................Pg. 38 Ben Bridge Jewelers Inside front cover Ben E. Keith Beverages Pg. 24 Borderland Bail Bonds Pg. 31 Canana’s Pgs. 48-49 Casa Buena Vista Homes Pgs. 6-7 Cupcakeology ................................................................................ Pg. 66 E.G. Designs Pg. 24 Eco Living Home Improvement Pgs. 26-27 El Paso Children’s Hospital ................................................Back cover El Paso Rhinos Hockey Pg. 13 El Paso Zoological Society Pg. 43 EP Accountants .............................................................................. Pg. 71 Epic Events and Entertainment Pg. 77 Epic Railyard Event Center Pg. 68 Event Creators ................................................................................ Pg. 67 GECU Pg. 32 Great American Steakhouse Pg. 55 Hotel Indigo ...................................................................................... Pg. 25 Hyundai of El Paso Pg.93; Back cover Inn of the Mountain Gods Pg. 85 Intraceuticals Pg. 88 Julio’s Mexican Food Pg. 64 KFOX14/CBS4 ............................................................................. Pgs. 2-3 La Coa by Good Coffee Pg. 65 Laura Carrillo Designs Pg. 70 Love Me Knot ................................................................................... Pg. 69 Martha Martinez Real Estate Team Pgs. 20-21 Mendez Isaac Joudi, PLLC Pg. 33 Moose’s DraftHouse Pg. 64 Morra Mia Pg. 57 Paso del Norte Center of Hope Pg. 11 Pelican’s Steak & Seafood ................................................ Pgs. 46-47 Persian Rug Gallery Pg. 19 Play Lounge Pg. 56 Poe Toyota ........................................................................................... Pg. 1 Rejuvene M.D. Pg. 76 Ripe Eatery Pg. 59 Rocky Mountain Mortgage Company .................................... Pg. 93 Rosa’s Cantina Pg. 63 Shell Shocked Pg. 18 Stryker by Spectrum................................................................... Pg. 102 Sugar Skull Fashion Boutique Pg. 89 Supreme Laundry Pg. 75 Tacotote.................................................................................... Pgs. 30; 58 Team Juan Uribe, LLC Pg. 84 The Block Pg. 61 The City Ticketing Pgs. 10; 44 The Italian Kitchen Pg. 60 The Mix Salon and Spa ............................................................... Pg. 101 The RockIn’ Bar Pgs. 50-51 The State Line Pg. 43 The Tap...............................................................................................Pg. 53 Thyme Restaurant Pg. 54 Track One Pgs. 52; 78 Walgreens ..................................................................................... Pgs. 8-9
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