La Fogata & Jaime

If you are bored, I feel compelled to share the LONG VERSION of how we know Jaime and why we eat at La Fogata:

Several years ago (circa April 2004), when Ashley was in 2nd grade, she was in speech because you couldn’t understand a word she said!  About the same time, a Mexican restaurant opened up down in Castle Rock and Jeff & I had been a few times for lunch.  They were usually closed on Sunday but they started opening for lunch.  We started going after church on Sunday and the waiter we usually had for lunch during the week, was the assistant manager on Sunday and didn’t wait on tables.  So he made a passing remark that he’d have his good friend Jaime take care of us.  (Keep in mind, the kids had never been, so Ashley took this as a sign that the manager of the restaurant was introducing her to someone special!)  Ashley immediately befriended Jaime and asked him to teach her Spanish.  By the end of our meal, she knew the first 5-6 of her ABC’s in Spanish.  The following Sunday, Jaime had “a lesson” prepared for Ashley, printed on a pocket notepad.  This continued on and by the end of a several weeks she knew her ABC’s, some colors and could count to 20 or so in Spanish!  We even went in once and Jaime was not there, but he had left “Ashley’s lesson” tacked to a board in the back and our substitute waiter knew to bring it to her.

As you can imagine, we all got to know Jaime and he got to know us.  William was about 4 and decided one day that he was going to order off of the adult menu.  Pretending to read, he ordered “by picture” and selected a burrito garnished with sliced tomatoes.  When Jaime set William’s burrito down, William didn’t say anything but great big tears were in his eyes.  He quietly said “This isn’t what I ordered.”  We were all very perplexed because it was a burrito and that was what he had asked for.  After a few minutes, I finally realized, he had ordered it because of the SLICED TOMATOES (he LOVES tomatoes) and this burrito had just a few diced tomatoes sprinkled on top but no great big, juicy slices of tomato running the length of the burrito as the picture had shown.  Jaime to the rescue, a side dish of sliced tomatoes appeared next to William’s plate!  AND… from that day on, no matter what William ordered, a side plate of sliced tomatoes was included 😉

Time passed and now Ashley is finishing up third grade.  She can say several simple sentences to the wait staff and has learned to “roll her r’s” in Spanish.  Her speech immediately improved and she was “graduating” out of speech class.  This is a HUGE accomplishment in a very short time and many people asked if we had paid for private speech therapy.  I’d joke around and say, nope… we just have a waiter teaching her Spanish.  Ashley told a few of her speech classmates and I confirmed with their parents (who would look at me incredulously!)  Some even made it down to Castle Rock to meet Jaime and he would kid us and say he was going to start charging for speech lessons!

One of her last projects in third grade was to write a “business form letter” to a company and see if they reply.  Many of her classmates chose large corporations such as Lego, Nintendo, Jello, etc, and received immediate canned responses, many with “free samples or stickers” of their products.  Ashley chose to write to the restaurant something along these lines:  “We have been coming to your restaurant for 1 year.  We have been 50 times and spent X dollars.  My favorite meal is trucha (that’s trout) and we always ask for Jaime because he is a great person”  I never actually saw the letter she sent, I had just helped her gather the data.  Her teacher mailed the letters from the school.  School ended and she had not received a reply.  HOWEVER, at the time, their school was year-round so when her reply arrived a month later or so, she was able to show her previous teacher.   Something resembling this:  “Dear Ashley, We are happy that you visit our restaurant.  Jaime enjoys serving your family.  Here are a few gift certificates so you can order your favorite dish.”  [NOTE UPDATE:  I found the letter, so I’ve added it here: ]

Well she was sooooo, proud of her response and her gift cards that of course we had to go and spend them.  We walked in the door and there, framed behind the cash register was Ashley’s letter!  OH MY GOSH, you’d have thought she had been elected president!  She would stop anyone who was waiting for a table or paying their bill and show them that she had written that letter.  “Hi, I’m Ashley and this is my letter!” 🙂

A few weeks later, the restaurant changed ownership and the first thing they did was rearrange the front area with the cash register… and took down Ashley’s letter. 🙁

Not long after, we took a summer vacation during one of the breaks in school and when we returned, we went to visit Jaime.  Ashley ran inside and asked the “new manager” if we can please have Jaime’s table.  He very bruskly told Ashley that Jaime had moved to downtown Denver.  The subsequent visits to the restaurant changed.  Our other waiter was great but the Spanish lessons ceased and so did the plates of sliced tomatoes.  Our inquiries about Jaime were always met with a canned response of “he’s moved to downtown Denver” and you could see them apologizing with their eyes that they couldn’t offer more.

It was now the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and several of our birthdays!  It was becoming apparent that we were not going to be able to have birthday celebrations with Jaime.  But if you asked Ashley what she wanted, she just wanted to see Jaime for her birthday.  As you can imagine, we decided one more time to try and figure out what restaurant he’d moved to.  Jeff and I decided we’d run some errands, go to Mirco Center, etc… but first, we’d head down to Castle Rock for lunch (without kids, while they were at school) and see if we could get someone to tell us.  Our waiter had been roommates with Jaime… he KNEW why we needed to know where Jaime went.  So he gave us directions and while he was speaking, I realized … “HEY? wait a minute… isn’t that where Micro Center is located?!?”  Yes, yes it is… the restaurant is in the parking lot of Micro Center! (that’s NOT downtown Denver by the way!!!)  Although the “new” restaurant is probably 20 miles from this one, we live halfway in between!

Quick trip to Micro Center and we found the restaurant.  Of course, Jaime wasn’t there that day, but we asked for his schedule and we were back that weekend.  OH THE JOY!  There were squeals from all our kids AND from Jaime!  When our meals arrived, William’s came with a side plate of sliced tomatoes!  It’s official, we cannot celebrate a family occasion without Jaime, birthdays just aren’t the same.

It’s been a few years now since we started going to La Fogata… because of Jaime.  But I have to tell you, the food is fabulous.  I used to say, we don’t go to La Fogata because of the food, but ya know what… great food is what it is!  And spectacular service… You should go, ask for Jaime, and tell him “Ashley’s family” sent you!

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