LOVINGTON — Jason Ganaway was 10 years old when he would stand on a bucket and help his dad, Michael, dress hamburger buns.
That was 26 years ago, when Jason’s grandfather Earl owned Olé Jax Drive Inn in Lovington. Year’s later Michael bought the restaurant from Earl and ran one of Lovington’s favorite spots to spend time with friends, enjoy a Pancho Burger, some homemade onion rings and a cherry coke.
On Thursday Jason wand his wife, Ashley, celebrated their new adventure as the third generation owners of Olé Jax Drive Inn, a restuarant that has been located on West Ave. D in Lovington since 1954. With about a 100 people in attendance, the new owners watched as their 12-year old daughter, Addison, cut the ribbon during a grand-opening event at the restaurant.
Jason may have been 10 when he helped his dad, but he began working at the family business when he was 14. So when the idea of purchasing the restaurant 22 years came forth, it became a quick decision.
“We didn’t really expect it when it happened,” Jason said. “About the middle of June, we said, (buying the restaurant) was real.”
Jason and Ashley bought the restaurant in July and have spent the past nine months making Olé Jax their own.
“It’s been awesome exploring the changes and additions we want to bring to the restaurant,” said Ashley. “Being able to make the decisions and not ask for permission has been really fun. It’s been a real blessing.”
It helps to have the backing of their community as well.
“Being able to have support from the community where we can do stuff like that is important,” Jason said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” Ashley said. “You can see the turnout for our grand opening. We have the best support system ever.”
Jason said his grandfather Earl, bought the restaurant from original owner Jack Ruggs in 1979. Earl ran the restaurant until Michael bought it around 2009. Throughout the years, some of the restaurant’s favorite menu items stayed right there, and Jason isn’t about to make too many changes either.
“We have the Pancho Burger, it’s not going anywhere,” Jason said. “Double meat, double cheese with green chile. Our homemade chicken strips, we sell a ton of those. They aren’t going anywhere either. The Henny Pennys have been around forever and everyone loves them. Our onions rings are also something that’s staying.”
Some of the new additions include cheese sticks and an upgraded chicken salad.
“We have popping pearls and our drinks are what people go crazy for,” he said.
Thursday’s grand opening featured speeches from state Rep. David Gallegos and Mayor David Trujillo and several raffled items including a 50-inch television.
“It’s super exciting to see all the people here for our grand opening ceremony,” Jason said. “I would have never guessed all these people would have been here. We are excited for the future and hope to continue building.”
As for the fourth generation, Addison doesn’t think owning Olé Jax is in her distant future. What is in her present is the fun of working for mom and dad’s restaurant.
“I like getting to know all the people who come here and seeing them all,” Addison said. “Getting to make friends with all of the workers here. This is a fun place to be.”