Category Archives: Profiles

A Warrior for Good Health

Muniz Rio Grande Pharmacy owner Bobby Muniz in his Harlingen store. (VBR)

In 2015, Bobby Muniz was praying and holding on to hope as his wife prepared to give birth to their youngest child, Ariel. Some doctors did not give the baby girl much chance to survive long after birth, but she did, with surgeries soon to follow to bolster her health. The miracle and joy of his daughter’s birth inspired the Harlingen pharmacist and school board member to re-examine his work,…

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This Golf is High-Tech

A player at Topgolf in Pharr reacts to one of his shots. (VBR)

Topgolf is not so much about golf as it is a technology-driven entertainment experience. In fact, more than half of the people who visit Topgolf venues are non-golfers. And only eight percent classify themselves as avid players of the game. The new Topgolf in Pharr, the 50th location in the franchise, features three levels with 72 stations from which to whack balls out into a large area filled with targets.…

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Building a Better Burger

Owner and chef Frank Macias with the Trump’s Burger Wall, piled high with American and Mexican flavors representing the cultural mix of South Texas. (VBR)

Frank Macias at times seems a bit surprised by his success. All the while, he is confident in the skills and vision that took him down a road from food truck operator to restaurateur with a plan for the future. The owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen, Macias’s first job was flipping burgers at McDonald’s when he was 16. He bounced around from eatery to eatery until he was 22,…

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RGV Towns Share Nature Prize

Thousands of black-bellied whistling ducks visit Ibis Pond at Estero Llano Grande State Park every winter, attracting birders visiting the Rio Grande Valley. (VBR)

From the deck at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Mercedes, I watched approximately 2,000 black-bellied whistling ducks in Ibis Pond as they looked for food, perched on logs and bobbed in the chilly November water. The park’s 200 acres of woodlands, lakes and marshes shelter an amazing abundance of wildlife from seven alligators to diverse birds, butterflies and 24 mammal species as well as native plants.  The mid-Valley park…

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Company Recycles Cooking Oil

Fatty Chem plant manager Hector Martinez stand in front of a company tanker truck and next to used cooking oil collection containers. (VBR)

Some jobs are said to be as clean as a whistle while others sound as dirty as a pig sty. One successful Rio Grande Valley enterprise that some people might consider to fall in the latter category is recycling used cooking oil. A Los Fresnos-based company called Fatty Chem By-Products Inc. bills itself as a full-service recycler of fats and oils, with some of the byproducts having been used in…

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Birding by the Numbers

Two birders scan the area with binoculars at Estero Llano Grande State Park. (VBR)

Some 800 birders visited the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in November, its 25th year as one of the premier birding events in the country. With dozens of field trips to regional birding hotspots and lectures by internationally renowned birding experts, the festival’s staying power is a testament to the economic impact of ecotourism, and particularly birdwatching, in Deep South Texas. While there are no recent studies on the financial…

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Idea Takes Flight Across RGV

Daniel Pompa and Bobby Saenz took an idea and built into a Valleywide chain of restaurants. (VBR)

They came from two different walks of life – the cook and retail store manager – and in a Brownsville kitchen during an Easter break, they mapped out the beginnings of a business plan. It was 2010 when Bobby Saenz, with years of retailing management experience, approached Daniel Pompa, a graduate of a culinary school, and made a pitch. “I had a vision of a restaurant – burgers, wings, country…

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Beer Center of ‘Experience’

Manager Kevin Norrell inside the glass-enclosed keg storage area at the Yard House in McAllen. (VBR)

Three thousand gallons of beer is kept at a temperature of 36-38 degrees in a glass-enclosed keg storage area that can be viewed from inside La Plaza Mall in McAllen. With some 130 beers on tap, the recently opened Yard House boasts the largest assortment of draft beer in the city. The cold beer is delivered to the establishment’s centerpiece, an island bar lined with colorful taps, through more than…

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Local Dentist Named Top in Texas

Dr. Jose L. Cazares Jr. holds up the proclamation of Dentist of the Year with Commissioners Court and his family. (courtesy)

Dr. Jose L. Cazares of McAllen Dental Associates is the 2018 Texas Dentist of the Year. The recognition comes from Commissioners Court during the Texas Academy Awards celebration in Austin. Cazares is the first dentist from the Rio Grande Valley to receive the award, the most prestigious honor a Texas dentist can receive. “I want to thank Commissioners Court for recognizing me, and for being pillars in the community,” said Cazares. “I’m proud to represent…

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