Happy customer Jake Chavez, left, enjoys the breakfast served by Mona Soto-Fernandez at his reserved table at Sofia’s.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Jake Chavez considers himself a “regular guy,” but he’s regarded as a VIP at Sofia’s restaurant in Socorro, where he’s got his own reserved table every morning for breakfast.

A lifelong bachelor, Chavez, 68, makes his living as a cattle rancher, and while he has scaled back his operation, he’s still up before sunrise, and if Chavez is not at his table, he’s probably made his way through Sofia’s drive-through.

Jake’s breakfast arrives at the hands of waitress Mona Soto-Fernandez. What he orders varies daily, and Jake doesn’t have a favorite other than it needs to be food from Sofia’s.

“Good food. Good people,” Chavez said. “All the food is good. It just depends on my mood.”

Chavez has been eating food from Sofia’s recipes much farther back than the 16 years he’s been hitting their breakfast table.

“She was a cook at the high school when I went,” Chavez said. “She was a nice, easy-going lady.”

Longtime customer and “regular guy” Jake Chavez usually arrives at Sofia’s Kitchen most days around 6 a.m. and, one morning, found that his favorite table had been reserved just for him.

He pauses to take a big bite of a perfectly toasted breakfast sandwich. The fresh lettuce and tomato slice peek out, making anyone around him think about ordering one from the menu.

Eggs are never on the menu because Chavez found out as a child that he’s allergic to chickens and eggs.

About a year ago, Chavez walked in for breakfast at his usual table to find a sign perched on the napkin holder that read “Reserved for Jake.”

“It made me feel pretty good. I’m just a regular guy,” Chavez said. “I’m just a regular customer like anyone else. Socorro is a friendly town, and I’m a lifelong rancher. My father was a rancher, too.”

The lack of rain in Socorro County worries Chavez, who gets up early and seeks to inform himself about the world’s happenings before breakfast.

“I get up at 4:30 every morning and watch the news. Then I come over here and eat breakfast at six,” Chavez said. “I eat here because the food is great, and the waitresses have been really good to me.”

While he doesn’t find anyone at his table in the morning, he has gotten some teasing texts from friends who have sat down for lunch and sent him photos of them seated at his reserved table.

Chavez’s table reservation isn’t an exclusive item, but it does recognize his being there since Sofia’s opened their doors and his daily visits. Co-owner Steve Rosas and his staff hit upon the idea of reserved tables to acknowledge their love for their longtime customers and local law enforcement officers.

“Some of our longtime customers have become like family to us. They are always coming in, and on Sundays, you’ll see many of them here,” Rosas said.

So, how long does it take to earn a sign at Sofia’s?

“Oh, that takes years,” Rosas responds with a laugh. “Of course, if you are from Socorro, you are pretty much family to us already.”