If you have enjoyed a tortilla or a tamale in Fort Stockton sometime over the last 71 years, you have probably tasted one made at the Comanche Tortilla and Tamale Factory.
Joe Ben Gallegos Jr., known to most people in town as “J.B.” is taking over for his father and working as the factory's operations manager.
His dad, of the same name, is 91-years-old and recently started working from home.
“He's talking to customers on a regular basis still,” said Gallegos.
The factory sells wholesale to businesses in Fort Stockton, Marfa, Pecos, Alpine and Fort Davis.
They are open to the public one day for “Tamale Thursday.”
The business has operated out of 107 S. Nelson St. for more than 50 years, and has built relationships with many local restaurants and with Lowes Market.
“The tortilla business is very competitive,” said Gallegos.
He grew up in Fort Stockton, graduating high school in 1972.
Gallegos attended Sul Ross State University, University of Texas El Paso, and San Fransisco State, where he majored in theatre.
His focus was on technical theatre, mainly stage lighting.
He credits Larry Skylastad with getting him interested in the craft which eventually led to him getting an internship at The Julliard School in New York.
He came back to Fort Stockton 10 years ago, stayed for two years and then finally came back for good last September.
In May, Gallegos and his his business and personal partner, Steve Walker, held their first gallery show and opening at their art gallery, Gallery 107 West, located at 107 W. 1st St.
Gallegos and Walker own the building and business, but Walker runs the gallery portion.
“He's an artist himself,” said Gallegos. “I have enough on my hands.”
Gallegos is also very involved in the Fort Stockton Community Theatre and has been helping with the lighting work from the Nelson Street Theatre renovation.
He will also help to teach others lighting techniques in case he is unavailable to assist.
With the tortilla business and the gallery, Gallegos also has other ventures in the works.
He decided to come back home and stay when he realized his parents were getting older, and his mom went to a nursing home.
“It quickly became evident I needed to think twice on what I needed to do,” said Gallegos.
Along with his four other brothers, they take turns helping with the tortilla business when needed.
Gallegos is also Vice President of the Fort Stockton Downtown Association and brings another business perspective in helping to revamp the downtown area.
He works hard to give back to the community and be involved in the community that he grew up in.
He tries to stay involved in several projects at the same time.
“I have a lot of energy – even at 65,” said Gallegos. “There's no time to slow down, especially when ideas keep popping in my head.”
He has a hope that people can see the incredible opportunities that Fort Stockton has to offer and that they think creatively.
He remembers his grandmother, Elisa Terrazas, telling him “Beyond those mesas is another world and I'm going to make sure you experience it all.”
Those words sparked an adventurous spirit in Gallegos that he brings back with him to his hometown.
Recently his family bought chairs for the new theatre in the name of his grandparents, Elisa and Angel.
He said he is invested in the community and plans to stay.
“It's home for me,” said Gallegos.