What you do, say, is get this idea to start a restaurant in a little town in the New Mexico boondocks.
So you do that and pretty soon you find out you are to dinner distribution what Kent Jones is to striking a golf ball. I mean, turns out you are good at this stuff.
I cite Kent Jones because that pro golfer was born in Portales and so was your restaurant chain. You pick good locations, build buildings with warm, inviting interiors, provide dynamite salad bars and quality steaks served fast, and, shazaam, the customers come flocking.
Your initial Portales location, started in 1976, becomes the flagship of a chain that over the next quarter century will see Cattle Baron open in Hobbs, Roswell, Lubbock, Midland, Texas, El Paso, Texas, and Ruidoso.
You’d guess that would be enough, but maybe you are thinking you have too much time on your hands, so you start another venture, Farley’s Pubs. You’ve got three of those — in Ruidoso, Las Cruces and Roswell. Just for good measure, you pick up Santino’s Italian Restaurant in Ruidoso and Tia Juana’s Mexican Grill in Roswell.
Enough, already. You’ve made it. Time to indulge in your favorite diversions. You spend your days lounging on a houseboat being served adult beverages. Or maybe you cruise around in a fancy import, parking it often at cruise ship docks. You have brief conversations with your office manager. “How much did we make today?”
That’s what you would do unless you are Jeff Wilson. If you are Jeff Wilson you keep looking for locations in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Colorado. And one future expansion project is of special interest.
Wilson bought Tinnie’s Silver Dollar, the historic landmark on Highway 70 in the Hondo River Valley. Everyone in Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas has driven by Tinnie’s over the years, and most of us have dined there.
You just know Wilson’s plans for an upper scale restaurant will click. He has the touch. And so a New Mexico columnist sings the praises of Jeff Wilson because he is maybe looking for a new career as a restaurant reviewer, maybe a business writer?
No, I sing the praises of Jeff Wilson because this newest location at Tinnie’s is special. All the profits from this restaurant will be used to finance Wilson’s Second Chance Boys Ranch, a facility he will build on the same property.
He will house 15 to 20 kids between the ages of 10 and 16, boys who are having a rough go of it. The purpose is to help them learn to make good choices.
I wish I could tell you more about Jeff Wilson. I would like to tell you how old he is, his early background, how he would describe his secret of success, what prompted him to start Second Chance. Trouble is, I don’t know Jeff Wilson.
Usually when you tell a businessman you are going to write a positive column about him, he sends a taxi for you. Not Jeff Wilson. His marketing coordinator, Teresa Almond, says Jeff is the kind of guy who believes that when you are going to do something good, you ought to do it and shut up.
A rare bird, this Jeff Wilson.
Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. Contact him at: