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Thinking small: Local entrepreneurs set up shop in 2013

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Behind most businesses there is an interesting story.

Take Frenchy Alicea, one of the many Rio Ranchoans who got a new business license in 2013. He owns L.A. Subs at 1009 Golf Course Road, about a block south of Southern. The restaurant is soon to be called Alicea’s NY Bagels and Subs.

The path he took to restaurant ownership is unique.

About three years ago, Alicea, an engineer, decided to relocate from a Hewlett-Packard office in Costa Rica to Rio Rancho. In January 2013, Hewlett-Packard announced it would move almost a quarter of its Rio Rancho positions, about 200 jobs, to Georgia. Alicea was among the employees who were asked if they wanted to move.

Alicea said he’d established roots in Rio Rancho by that time. He said he also was dabbling in a culinary career in his spare time and working with the previous owner of L.A. Subs, Linda Lorens-Martin.

Lorens-Martin opened the 1,200-square-foot shop in April 2011. The restaurant has never been a chain and wasn’t named after the City of Angels, as one might expect. From the beginning it was a mom-and- pop shop, or mother and daughter, in this case. The L.A. in L.A. Subs are initials for Linda and her mother, Ann. It lasted about two years before Alicea took over.

Alicea registered the new business in April 2013, and said he’s been well received, especially since he makes and delivers fresh bagels.

“I don’t know of any bagel shops that are also a delivery service,” he said.

He added that, so far, the restaurant is doing well. Not too many businesses in the state make fresh bagels the old-fashioned way, and it’s a good fit for Rio Rancho.

“Being that there are a lot of New Yorkers in Rio Rancho, it’s been well-received,” he said.

Another recent addition to the City of Vision’s small business landscape, and a very different type of enterprise, is Baby Signs with Jess.

Jessica Schroder, who started the business in September, teaches sign language to infants. She said she is off to a slow, but promising, start.

She’s held two classes so far. The first had five students and the second had just one.

“It’s hard this time of year, close to the holidays,” she said.

Schroder has worked as a nanny for 12 years, she said, and has taught sign language to many of the children she watches. She said it’s useful because it is often easier for a small child to learn the sign for water or food, than trying to vocalize his or her needs.

Children with developmental problems are also sometimes taught sign language.

“It’s very useful for parents who want to communicate with their kids when they can’t talk,” she explained.

Schroder said the process of registering the business was quite easy. She hopes to build her business up to about four classes a month, which would make teaching classes a part-time job, she said. For more information, go to

Scott Bennefield, another local who started a business in 2013, is a pastor and athletic coach. He coaches people training for multi-sport and endurance races. He has competed in endurance races for 20 years and works as a small groups pastor at New Covenant Church in Albuquerque.

He said his business, Bennefield Multisport Coaching, is off and running, so to speak.

“It’s not anything Fortune 500 or anything like that,” he said. “For what I do, it’s on track. … And it is a big market in Albuquerque. There are a lot of people involved in endurance sports.”

Faith and fitness, as he put it, is what he tries to help people with, he said.

“For some, it’s full-time coaching and for others, it’s helping them take the next step in the goals they want to accomplish, or help(ing) them see the benefit of having a good balance of the spiritual and the physical,” Bennefield said. “It’s easy to emphasize one over the other, and I think it’s best that you keep a balance of the two.”

For more information about his business, go to