September 2012

Señor Sam’s Celebrates Twenty Years

SenorSamsSenor Sam's of Ashland opened in July of 1992, and it seems like yesterday. The restaurant is located at 1634 Ashland Street in the Ashland Shopping Center (next to Radio Shack). Their phone number is 488-1262.

Jim Gilbert, owner/operator, has recently freshened up the restaurant with some remodeling, a (dog friendly) outdoor seating area, classy Latin instrumental music, new blue and white chips, Breakfast Burritos $5.49, Lunch Specials $5.49, children's meals $1.99, and more.

Jim said he's extremely grateful for 20 years of support and loyal patronage of customers from as far as Grants Pass to Yreka and throughout the Rogue Valley, especially Ashland. He went on to express his gratitude for the numerous outstanding employees who've worked at his establishment over these years, including the awesome current crew. He also expressed a very special thanks to Faye and Gustavo, his assistant managers, for their loyal devotion.

"I chose the Ashland Shopping Center for its proximity to the SOU campus, Ashland High School and the surrounding businesses," Jim said. "I knew the health-conscious community would love the 'made fresh daily without lard, MSG or preservatives' concept. Our customers appreciate being able to custom design their meals exactly how they like it right before their eyes. We take the guesswork out of who's touching their food in the kitchen."

The emphasis at Señor Sam's was and is still to provide its patrons with a wholesome, flavor-packed meal of generous portions at an extremely fair price. They take pride in using the freshest highest-quality ingredients and their constant devotion to cleanliness and friendly service has won them either "Best Mexican Restaurant," "Best Fast Service" and "Best Burritos in Ashland" 20 years in a row in the Sneak Preview's "Best of Ashland" readers' survey.

Customers can choose from their signature Jr. and Big Burritos, "home made" Tamales, Super Nachos, Tostada Salads (green and red leaf, no iceberg), Tacos, Quesadillas, Fajitas, various plates from the grill etc. etc. They are all served with your choice of meat, organic tofu or veggie style. Fresh-made guacamole comes with most of their meals without an extra charge.

Prices range from $1.99-$8.99. They also feature a fresh salsa bar, free refills on soft drinks, iced tea and coffee. They serve import, domestic, local beer and wine, plus a variety of fruit juices, authentic Mexican soft drinks (made in Mexico) and more.

Senor Sam's opens at 10:00am, 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To-go orders are welcome. Jim says, "Stop the drive-thru insanity and enjoy fresh, healthy Mexican food for about the same price and time! See you soon."

Green Friendly Products for Your Child

The concept for an eco baby story came to co-owner Melissa Syken when she was pregnant with her first son three years ago. "Starting a healthy family requires a community of nurturing and support," said Melissa, who opened Growing Green Baby with her husband Jamie in March of this year. "I wanted to create a place where parents, grandparents, family and friends could go to find items they need that are not only good for the health of their baby/child but also good for the earth. We thought it would be nice to share the green resources available in the valley for pregnancy, birth and parenting."

GreenBabyThe store, which is located at 260 N. 1st (across from the Food Co-op), carries lots of children-related items, from cloth diapers and baby carriers to wooden toys, Waldorf-friendly art supplies, baby bedding, organic mattresses, nursing/feeding support items, and more.

"We intend to soon start a carrier rental program so you can try out a number of different carriers and see what you and your baby like," Melissa said. "We're also collecting books and DVDs for a lending library pertinent to pregnancy, birth and parenting beyond. Another thing we aim to bring in the next few months is an organic newborn cloth diaper rental program, and we are also doing a cloth diaper, etc., buy-back service to help circulate diapers and promote cloth diapering."

Melissa is convinced that cloth diapers are better for the environment and more affordable in the long run. She is also pleasantly surprised by how affordable organic and "green" items have become.

"It is amazing the variety and amount of products we have in the store," she said. "We have mainly found smaller companies/local businesses to support which have only a few products they make. Ordering from them takes lots of time but is worth it to have it all available in one shop. From the outside the store may look little, but we have made great use of our space and there is a little of everything inside."

Growing Green Baby is a family business, with Melissa and Jamie getting help from Melissa's mom and dad. "We all live locally and have all been a part of bringing this store to fruition," she said.

For more information, the phone number is 541-488-0511.

Taxes & Financial Planning at Fortress

With a background as a licensed, tax-focused CPA since 1988, Jack Gibbs knows a little bit about money. In 1993, per his dad's advice, he opened Fortress Financial Group to also provide financial services to a wide range of clients. In 1998 his wife Jennifer, also a CPA, joined him.

"That was a turning point for our growth," Jack said. "Financial planning now comprises over 75% of what we do, but tax remains an essential service that people appreciate."

The Gibbses moved to Ashland with their young family of three children (and a boxer) in 2007 from the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. "We wanted to live in the 'wonder world' of Ashland, with its amazing topography, climate, healthy culture and close-knit community," Jack said. "To our delight, both our family and business are thriving, and we are thrilled that my brother's family also moved here a year ago."

Fortress provides a number of services, from tax preparation and planning to retirement planning, rollovers, socially conscious investing, comprehensive financial planning, and education funding.

Jack has always had an interest in numbers and strategies and enjoys a variety of games, puzzles and sports.

"In a way, planning to help people save taxes and plan sensibly is a big game, only instead of the rules printed on the inside of the box, there are literally tens of thousands of pages of rules in the Internal Revenue Code ... and growing," he said. "The rules of investing continue changing also. While this can be imposing, it creates many opportunities for people. Fortunately, this is something I enjoy and something people value. I try to help people view it as exciting rather than a chore."

At Fortress Financial, communication is the key. "Our business is relationship-based rather than transaction based," Jack said. "We're happy to help educate our clients to the extent they're interested in learning more about the finer details of their taxes and finances."

With clients locally and in 19 states, Jack and Jennifer are thankful to be based in Ashland. "We manage retirement plans for individuals and companies ranging from one to 350 employees," he said. "We offer free reviews of prior tax returns and free portfolio reviews. Often we can uncover larger refunds or overlooked opportunities. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of such important information."

The phone number at Fortress Financial Group is 541-488-3600. They're located at 250 Oak Street, just left of the Armory.

Artistic Computer Repair and Maintenance

Not wanting to become the classic "starving artist" when he moved to Ashland from Eugene six years ago, local artist Anthony Lewis set up his own computer repair business to supplement his income.

"I knew a lot about computers because I had worked for a computer game company in Eugene for seven years," Anthony said. "I also did a lot of computer work while in the Air Force."

Anthony gives every customer his utmost attention. "My relationship with my customers is the key difference and the reason I enjoy what I do," he said. "I provide a free analysis and hardware/software repair/install. General maintenance is also crucial when it comes to computers, and for the very low price of $15 a month, I can make sure your computer is properly maintained."

Anthony was born in Trinidad and Tobago (just north of Venezuela) and grew up on the neighboring island of Grenada. He has four children—two grown daughters and two younger ones. It's his art, though, that's his passion.

"I've always loved art since I was a kid," he said. "I believed someday I would make my living from artwork, and I still believe that will happen. After working as Art Director for a computer game company, I discovered that I had a gift for design, art and graphic design."

Anthony's art has gone through a number of different phases, and you can see his work at "You will see that I don't have a particular style," he said. "I started painting realistic figurative works. It took me years to learn that I wasn't very good at it. Now my work is semi-abstract. That's what I call it. Other artist friends tell me it's actually figurative. You be the judge. I have about ten pieces on display at the Unitarian Church on Fourth Street in Ashland."

Much of Antony's approach to art comes from his background in the Caribbean. "It was a carefree time growing up there and it was very special," he said. "What I miss is how in such a small place, a small island, I feel like I'm more in touch with the earth. In Grenada, you have very few choices and because of this fact, people live their lives close to the earth."

To reach Anthony for computer work, call 541-227-3292.