Milagro Wine and Spirits Owner Prepped to Graduate Police AcademySponsored Story
Joe Mata III, owner of Milagro Wine and Spirits, is approaching graduation at the San Angelo Police Academy. Meanwhile, his brother Jaymes Lopez and mother Christine Garcia will join him as the head of the business.
“My brother, my mom and myself are going to be operating this,” Mata said. “It’s not just going to be me or my brother and [me], it’s going to be all of us.”
According to Mata, he has been able to make the transition into the police force partially because of the support from his mother and brother.
“My family said they would like to assist in the operating of a well-oiled machine that has been committed to working and helping customers in areas that have been neglected by other liquor stores in San Angelo over the past few years,” Mata said.
Mata was born and raised in San Angelo, growing up in Santa Rita. He attended Glenn Junior High, Central High School and ASU. Whenever a friend offered for Mata to help him with Wildwood Wine and Spirits, he took the opportunity and began working in the business.
When the owner of Wildwood’s brother passed away, he wanted to sell the shop. Mata, however, asked him if he could take over the store despite the slim chance that the bank would approve.
“I finally decided it’s going to be a miracle if I go to the table and I ask a loan officer to give me a SBA loan for the amount of money that I need,” he said. “So, if they grant me that miracle and God gives me this wish, then I will call it a miracle, and that’s where Milagro Wine and Spirits came from.” Milagro means miracle in Spanish.
The little liquor store has been in business now for eight and a half years, and has become known in the community for a high standard of quality service. The customer base reaches all parts of the city and includes students, military, firefighters and police officers.
“Milagro is known for customer service, knowledge, accountability, diversity, comfort, integrity, and our commitment to the community of San Angelo,” Mata said.
After several successful years in business, Mata expressed a desire to give back to the community. He joined the Texas State Guard, performing natural disaster search and rescue. He enjoyed the work, but wanted to serve the community a little more directly. He then turned his attention to law enforcement.
“I just decided that I wanted to do something with law enforcement because I’m not the suit and tie kind of guy,” Mata said. “I like getting dirty. I like being out there with all the guys and the girls helping out and giving back to my community. Protecting and serving, if you will.”
As a student at the academy, Mata was affected deeply by Korby Kennedy’s recent death. In fact, Kennedy was supposed to be Mata’s instructor the Monday after the accident.
“It was beautiful to see our community show the support that it showed for an individual like Korby, but I wouldn’t have expected anything less,” Mata said. “Korby was a great individual and it was just really beautiful to see what we saw in the community and on the streets the day of Korby’s service.”
After he made the decision to join the police force about a year ago, Mata began the process of undergoing the background checks and polygraphs needed to qualify as an officer of the law. He hopes to graduate from the academy in November.
“God willing, [I’ll graduate] and I’ll be able to help protect and serve my community just like the men and women of the San Angelo Police Department have done,” he said.
However, despite his aspiration to become an officer of the law, Mata intends to stay involved in the store, assisting his family and customers he’s come to know over the years, and continuing to provide a variety of options ranging from mix-and-match six packs to liquor and wine.
“Everyone thinks that Milagro wines is just a wine shop,” he said. “They think that all we sell here is wines, when it’s not that. I get it; it seems like every conversation that I talk to somebody, they’re like, ‘well, we thought you just serve wine and beer.’ And I’m like ‘no, we sell liquor as well.’”
The store also occasionally carries a variety of imports, and can order beverages that clients may have tasted overseas. As far as the wine goes, Mata promises an inviting atmosphere even for the most novice of drinkers, and says his staff is always ready to help in the perfect selection.
“It’s a great wine experience to come into our spot because we make people comfortable when they come in here and not feel overly intimidated to ask about wines and reds and sweet stuff,” Mata said. “We just try for it not to be an intimidating experience to come in and talk about wine, whether it’s a college student or whether it’s somebody cooking dinner for his wife. Everybody is on the same level when they come in here. It’s great.”
Relying on a staff of four dedicated to service, Mata and his team have grown the business over the years, expanding to providing liquor to restaurants and bars citywide. Beginning with five accounts and pushing to 30, the owner says he can do with four on staff what larger entities do with 20.
“We’re doing that with just a small amount of people, and that just goes to show you: we’re busting our tail day in and day out," he said.
But the real story behind the business’s success has been the close relationship between the owner and his family members. Mata’s grandfather, Ben L. Ramirez, was a particular influence on the way his work ethic has developed.
“As far as our family business, we’re wanting to pass on things that we’ve been instilled growing up since we were kids,” Mata said. “And even our grandfather, Ben L. Ramirez, he used to come to work and help us out, go run deliveries. We do what we have to do every day, no matter what, thanks to our grandfather.”
Mata’s brother Jaymes is a committed Grape Creek Volunteer Fire Fighter and especially dedicated to volunteering his time and effort to being a first responder. The brothers are happy to partner their mother Garcia and serve the community.
On the flipside, the business boasts a solid clientele, and extending the family feel to customers has helped the owner build rapport within the city of San Angelo.
“We’re lucky because we have the clientele that we have. We have a really good rapport and a really good working relationship with a lot of our customers and we genuinely appreciate it from our whole family,” he said. “It’s awesome to have this be an extension of our house and our family and the way we take care of people. I hope that we continue to have the support that we’ve always had in the past, that people want to come up here and enjoy a personable relationship with us, my brothers, my mom and everybody that works here. I hope that we can continue to serve San Angelo the way we have for the past 10 and a half years.”
Despite the transitions that Milagro and its owners are experiencing, Mata said that both he and his family are as dedicated to the business as they were when it began.
“We’re in the business because we love what we do,” he said. “We enjoy the personal relationships that we’ve acquired with clients, whether it be clientele that comes into the store, clients that are bars and restaurants that we’ve taken care of and tastings that we do.”
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