Know Your Neighbor: Marla Juarez

Devoted Bent Street Deli server loves travel, animals, helping people

By Kathy Cordova
For The Taos News
Posted 3/29/18

Sunday (April 1) marks two milestone dates: Easter Sunday and April Fool's Day. "Easter and April Fool's Day celebrate two different parts of our lives, and even …

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Know Your Neighbor: Marla Juarez

Devoted Bent Street Deli server loves travel, animals, helping people


Sunday (April 1) marks two milestone dates: Easter Sunday and April Fool's Day.

"Easter and April Fool's Day celebrate two different parts of our lives, and even though they seem different, they are both relevant in our lives," said Marla Juarez, this week's featured Know Your Neighbor.

Juarez noted the spiritual significance of Easter. Little children celebrate by participating in Easter Egg Hunts and receiving special baskets loaded with eggs, stuffed bunnies and candy.

April Fool's Day, on the other hand, creates a mischievous, fun atmosphere, at least for pranksters, she said.

''Many people spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to amuse themselves by playing jokes on others. They may pull such pranks as saying, 'There's a spider on the ground' to someone who's afraid of spiders. Everyone is trying to get everyone else on this day, and having fun doing it," said Juarez.

Usually, Easter is a working day for Juarez, a 16-year employee of The Bent Street Deli in Taos. Oftentimes the restaurant features a wonderful brunch on that day, Juarez said.

Juarez's work history eventually led up to her current employment as a special place in her heart. Following graduation from Taos High School in 1992, Marla attended New Mexico State University for 3 1/2 years, first as a computer engineering student and then as an elementary education major.

In the summers, she worked as a tour guide at Taos Pueblo, In addition, Juarez attended classes at UNM-Taos. When she decided not to return to college, she worked as a teaching assistant at Taos Day School. Her assignments with 6th, 7th and 8th grade math (pre-algebra) lasted "a good few years."

When Juarez began work at the deli, she served as cashier for two years. When the restaurant required extra servers, she switched roles and soon discovered she enjoyed the work.

"I could work both inside and outside and meet new people," Juarez said. "Locals, regulars and new people all patronize the deli. Some return for specific occasions such as the Wool Festival.

"Recently, I took a month off work to travel, and when I returned, people were so happy to see me. I felt like a celebrity," Juarez added. In addition to server duties, Juarez also helps to manage the deli.

Her personal favorites at the Bent Street Deli include the California chicken salad, Long John Dunn sandwich and feta omelet (includes feta cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh basil).

The family-oriented deli worker Juarez loves her relatives and the traditional way of pueblo life. Her grandmother Lorraine Martinez taught the family many of their traditions.

Parents Martin Martinez Sr. of Taos Pueblo and Marie Martinez of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo encourage and follow cultural values. Juarez, the eldest of four children, listed her siblings: Rebecca, mother of Kasey Brook and Isaiah; Martin Jr. (Dayna), parents of Tashruz; and Manuel Peter (Yvette Lowe), parents of Geronmia and Emiliana.

Juarez met her husband José Juarez on his birthday 15 years ago when she participated in the pool league at the sports bar behind Allsup's. When the couple met, they discovered that they could discuss anything.

That first night, they discussed the end of the world and how snow was made. "We've been together ever since," Marla Juarez said.

On their first Valentine's Day, José gave Marla a necklace that depicted a gold snowflake, a memory of their first meeting. The couple wed in two separate ceremonies, one civil and one in the church. Juan works as a chef at the Bent Street Deli.

Unfortunately, not all of Marla Juarez's life remains happy. Years ago when she first learned of her pregnancy, she decided to leave her schooling and devote her time to life as a mother. She raised her daughter Martina Gomez Martinez, but lost her only child in 2015 when Martina died in an auto accident.

José and Marla love to travel. They have visited Mexico, California, Utah and Arizona. The couple spent their honeymoon in Mexico as the guests of Charlene De Long and Tom Kennedy, former owners of the Bent Street Deli. Since then, Juan and Marla have vacationed in Mexico four times. In their spare time in Taos, the couple enjoys seeking little-known and little-traveled roads where they discover the beauties of nature, such as eagles and hawks.

They like raising plants and own many. "I always wanted a green room, and now I've got one. The plants really started thriving after Martina died, so I think of her often when I see the greenery because I think that somehow, she's responsible for it," said Juarez.

Animal lovers Juan and Marla own three pets. The canine, Bear, was Martina's pet, and the dog's offspring, Bigira, joined the family. Yoda the cat also is part of their family life.

Marla Juarez, along with her husband José, plans to spend Sunday participating in giving children in the family gifts of candy, clothes and baskets. They also plan to work at the Bent Street Deli. No matter how they spend April 1, their plans include anything that will help others.


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