Located just South of Escondida Lake, Journey’s Place is a popular destination spot for fishermen as well as visitors for a quick bite to eat or a tasty snow cone. El Defensor Chieftain visited their establishment and met with its youngest member of the three generation run family business, 13-year-old Journey Garcia.
What is your role here at Journey’s Place?
I work the window for my mom and grandma, Shirley Fullingham and Christina Armijo.
How long have you been working here?
Our family used to be Escondida Grill and that started over 20 years ago. We closed, then re-opened as a small traveling area for things like the county fair. Then we decided to just stay right here (Escondida) and we re-named it Journey’s Place starting last year.
What type of food do you provide?
It’s mainly normal foods and ice cream style desserts. We have various burgers and hotdogs, that type of stuff, as well as a variety of shakes in which we have over 70 plus flavors which are all hand made and dipped.
Other than working the window, what is your role behind the scenes for the business?
I work the ice cream for the most part. Nothing is soft serve. I hand dip the ice cream for anyone coming in.
What is your top selling dish?
Escondida burgers and banana splits. People seem to just love them. We get somewhere around 60 to 70 customers per day in the summer wanting a good local bite to eat.
As a family business, did they rope you in to working here or was it your decision?
I have been with this family business since I was born. When the time came and we opened Journey’s Place it was time for me to step up.
What brings customers back to this location?
It’s really great food and good customer service. Plus we know everybody locally and also enjoy meeting other people. We love meeting new people all the time.
How has your interaction at a young age been with customers that visit your eatery spot?
For me it’s pretty much always been great. My mom likes to say I’m ‘down to earth’ but all that I want to do is work hard and treat each customer the right way. Even if I don’t remember your name I always try to remember something about you for the next visit. Maybe you have the big dog or the dog with the broken ear. I try to remember every person that walks up to the window.
How did you get the trait of being able to remember people?
From grandma (Christina). She’s very outgoing and taught me how to talk with people. Even if somebody comes in with a bad mood we just smile and treat them like they were any other person and move on.
What is the busiest day you have ever experienced here?
The summers in general. Saturdays and Sundays mostly. Everyone’s off and all of the kids want to come. We get over 100 customers each day during that busy season.
Have you had any times in which you felt overwhelmed at the window?
There have been a few times. I can remember certain days where it felt like people were just swarming in and you feel like ‘I gotta get this here and this there’ as fast as possible. But I just try to do one thing at a time. Fortunately most customers wait patiently and once they get their order out they say ‘thank you very much’ and we just say ‘sorry about the wait’.
What is the best part about working in a family run business such as this?
We already know most of our customers. Plus this is family. Working with my mom and grandma, we work together very well. When someone is busy we’ll notice and not bother them. There aren’t any questions between us and we know that when one of us needs help we will do that as soon as we get the chance.
Is there a downside in working at Journey’s Place?
There is not really a downside other than the overwhelming moments working because it is just nerve racking. Trying to get so many things done at once instead of taking it one step at a time.
Did you grow up in Socorro county?
Yep, right here. Getting to know all of the different types of people here has been amazing. Plus having the privileges I have such as being raised by my grandmother and my mother. Plus having all of this space to run around and see the amazing wildlife.
A few random questions, what is your favorite movie?
What first pops in my head is a movie called “Split”. I’m not sure why I like that one so much but I did. It’s about this guy (James MacAvoy) with multiple personalities and it’s pretty creepy. It’s one of those bad things can happen and people can be really scary. It showed you do not have to be perfect all the time because nobody can do that.
What is your favorite type of music?
Luke Bryan. I can’t exactly explain but it just moves me. His music is both soothing as well as catchy.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right here. This is where I’ve always grown up and I know the area. It’s familiar and comfortable even though it can get really, really hot. But for the most part it’s very nice and has not just the wildlife surrounding us but also such nice people to be around.
If there was something that you could change about Socorro County, what would it be?
Probably the violence. With the violent situations that happen here with all of the drugs as well as just stupid people doing stupid stuff. Try to make people decide not to make those decisions they’re making.