Restaurant serves free Christmas meal

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Christmas is all about tradition and the Garcia family, which owns the El Rancho Restaurant, is continuing a three-year tradition of offering a free Christmas meal to Portales residents.

El Rancho Restaurant is owned by Ruben and Sara Garcia and their son Joe Garcia.

“One reason we do this is to help out the community,” Ruben said. “To be able to offer a meal to those who can’t afford it or to those who have family living far away.”

Joe said the meal will be buffet-style with all of the treats which go with Christmas Day such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, dressing. Joe said there will also be a New Mexico-style twist to the meal with food items such as red chili and posole.

“Everything is falling into place perfectly,” Joe said. Joe said there will be cooks, waiters and other restaurant staff members who will devote their time on Christmas Day to helping with the meal. “It’s especially a special time because our daughter is 17 months old and she’s starting to understand what’s going on. She’s going to receive a glimpse into what Christmas is all about.”

Joe and Jaime Garcia are going to spend their second Christmas Day with their daughter, Katie.

The meal will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Day at El Rancho Restaurant. Ruben said about 85 percent of the food items are from the restaurant. He said they receive food donations from Ben E. Keith, the food provider for the restaurant out of Amarillo, Texas. Ruben said family members make desserts for the meal.

“God has provided for our family,” Joe said. “We wanted to extend our family and give a little to the community.”

Ruben said the Garcia family has enjoyed another year in Portales and he said they are looking forward to the Christmas meal.

“We’re happy,” Garcia said about the way the year has gone. “We’re privileged to have many customers this year. We’ve been really blessed this year. 90 percent of our sales are from the community.”

Garcia said the restaurant business has remained steady this year. El Rancho Restaurant was opened in 1989.

Ruben said their doors will be open to anybody who wants to enjoy a meal on Christmas Day. Joe said people are welcome to help if they want. He said last year some people came in to the restaurant to volunteer.

“We’ve had some people who are driving by stop to eat a meal,” Ruben Garcia said. “Everybody’s welcomed to come by.”