Student keeps it in the family at local business

Nick Stern, Senior Reporter | Photo By Nick Stern


Business major Justin Gabaldon has used his education to help keep the tradi­tion of The Bird of Paradise liquor store and Antonio’s Café and Cantina which are con­joining local businesses that have been family owned and operated for more than 50 years, Gabaldon said.

Gabaldon is the co-owner of Antonio’s and he also helps with the daily duties involved with running the liquor store, which he knew he would be a part of some­day, because aside from being tradition, he holds a lot of love in his heart for the business that his grandparents started in 1963, he said.

“Since I started high school I always knew that I would follow in the family footsteps and ensure that the business would continue on. It is my family’s heritage and it is what we have left throughout all the years. People may pass away and many things may change but we have constantly had the place,” Gabaldon said.

Gabaldon said he is convinced that going to CNM was one of the best decisions he has ever made because it has helped him learn how to handle and manage just about everything that comes his way while keeping the businesses operat­ing smoothly, and the majority of what he has learned from attending CNM has been success­fully applied directly to his work.

“I carried a lot from CNM over to my work here. I learned a lot of managerial concepts, a lot of accounting, but one of the most impor­tant things was the idea that if anyone works hard and puts their mind to what they need to accomplish, then what they are working for becomes much more attainable,” he said.

One of Gabaldon’s favorite aspects of CNM was the number of highly capable and greatly experienced instructors there were during his time there, he said.

The professors he had during his time at school did not just teach him what he learned by taking everything straight from a text­book, but much of what he learned seemed to have come from actual experience, because so many of his instructors had actually worked in the field they taught and had even owned their own businesses, which helped Gabaldon see what he was learn­ing up close and per­sonal, he said.

“They (CNM) have a lot of teachers that are knowledgeable in the field and have been through the stuff they teach themselves. Teachers seemed to have first-hand expe­rience in their fields and that made a huge difference in how well they taught me. That is what it is all about is experience, because when you can actually apply it to real life and when you have people who can help you see it for what it really is, it makes it so much easier to understand,” Gabaldon said.

His plan to follow the family tradi­tion and help run the family business aided Gabaldon to make his decision to pursue a business degree at CNM, right out of high school in 2008, he said.

He strongly believes that in this day and age, an educa­tion is one of the most important things to have in just about every facet of life, and he understood then as he does now that receiv­ing a higher education is a strong asset not only to his own success but to the continued success of his family’s businesses, he said.

Gabaldon said he believes that any stu­dent can get a lot out of pursuing their educa­tion further than high school and that most of all, it is important to not give up.

Ever since his grandparents Albert and Carmen Gabaldon started the Bird of Paradise more than 50 years ago, it has remained family oper­ated since its creation and has expanded in size and had Antonio’s (restaurant) added to it, which has gone through many names but has still remained a family-owned and oper­ated business, he said.

Gabaldon encour­ages anyone to come by to either the Bird of Paradise or Antonio’s Café and Cantina, which he said will always have great prices on both food and drinks.

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