By Tony Parra
The Garcia family see the Portales residents as an extension of their family and on Christmas Day it wants them over for a holiday meal.
Owners Joe, Ruben and Sara Garcia are opening the doors to the El Rancho Restaurant for a free Christmas meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Joe Garcia said food donated by family and community members will be brought to the Christmas dinner. Joe Garcia said a lot of the food is also from the restaurant.
People will be able to enjoy turkey, ham, dressing, posole and desserts at the restaurant in a buffet-style meal. This will be the second year in a row the Garcias have hosted a free Christmas dinner.
“It was such a blessing last year,” Joe Garcia said. “It was a joy to see the smiles on their faces. It’s nice to see people from different backgrounds under one roof.”
It was an idea Joe Garcia told his father Ruben Garcia about, last year. Joe Garcia said after the first hour there weren’t any people entering the restaurant and made him unsure whether people would show up.
Garcia said they received a poem from Joan Clayton last year while it was slow and it gave him and the rest of the volunteers encouragement. Shortly after people began showing up and Joe Garcia said the meal was a success.
“Joe presented the idea and he and his wife Jaime ran with it,” Ruben Garcia said. “I feel he saw the light. He turned out to be a great son and I am proud of all of my sons.”
Ruben Garcia said Joe Garcia is the oldest of his three sons. Ruben Garcia said his second oldest son, Ted Garcia Jr., helped out last year, but will unable to this year because he is in the navy and will have to go to San Diego on Christmas Day. Ruben Garcia said his third son, Paul Garcia, is learning the ropes on how to run the restaurant.
Joe Garcia and his wife, Jaime Garcia, have a new family member for the Christmas experience this year. Joe Garcia said their daughter, Katie Jean, was born in April.
“This will be the first Christmas for her,” Joe Garcia said. “Me and my family have been very blessed — blessed beyond my wildest dreams.”
Joe Garcia said El Rancho Restaurant employees and some of their family members have volunteered to serve residents on Christmas Day.
El Rancho Restaurant was opened in 1989 and Josie Garcia, Ruben’s mother, helped to get the restaurant off the ground, according to Joe Garcia.