Born and Raised headed to East El Paso
They started out as party promoters. Two friends who had an idea and a shared vision. In 2010, Johnny Escalante and Kiki Cervantes formed J&K Present.
“We both had an interest in social and entertainment life and we decided to start doing events,” Escalante said.
“Johnny came to me and was like, ‘Yo, we should get together and do a party at The Garden and we could see where it goes from there,’” Cervantes said.
What started as a small promotional company grew into a formidable operation, attracting big names to El Paso.
“So the big turning point for us was when we booked our first show that sold out,” Escalante said. “That’s when we were kinda like ok, this is maybe a little different, we can take this a little seriously.”
Two years ago, Escalante and Cervantes decided it was time to leverage their brand. So they opened a small bar out the outskirts of Union Plaza.
“Later Later was a very unique, boutique project," Escalante said. "It was small enough for us to get in there and learn the business.”
Earlier this year, J&K opened One:One, a shared co-working space in downtown El Paso, a place that functions as an incubator for startups and entrepreneurs.
“We’re continuing to try and push the envelope," Cervantes said. "We’re continuing to try to embrace the fact that El Paso is growing.”
Later this month, J&K will unveil their most ambitious project to date: A 6,000 square-square-foot restaurant and nightclub called Born and Raised.
“So now this is another big step," Escalante said. "It’s two to three times larger than our previous space. We’re introducing a restaurant concept. We’re introducing all our entertainment and booking into it. So we’re building a diverse bar restaurant that’s going to be multifaceted it’s going to have several elements.”
Born and Raised in far East El Paso has been under construction for the past several months. It features modern decor with a spacious patio and an airy, open design.
“We really want do something out here that represents our brand and can extend our platform out here to the East Side as well," Cervantes said.
Escalante and Cervantes teamed up with an old friend to make Born and Raised a reality.
“It’s a place where we’re going to have DJs. We’re going to have entertainment," Matty Salazar said. "And you’re going to get the full nightclub experience.”
Salazar is an El Paso native who has spent the past several years working for the Tao Group in Las Vegas, one of the country's premier restaurant and nightlife operations.
“I worked with some amazing people, learned a lot of things and the whole time kept in contact with Johnny and Kiki, you know, those two are my best friends, and you know, kinda bounced back ideas,” Salazar said.
For these three friends, who were born and raised in El Paso, getting to build a business together was always part of the plan.
“I love it," Salazar said. "Like I said, our connection is something very different and I don’t even consider it work anymore."
“We’re very detail-oriented," Cervantes said. "We believe in everything that we’re doing. We surround ourselves with a team that can support that.”
Escalante added: “I think El Paso is ready to embrace the talent of its own and develop them here and give them the great careers and opportunities that other markets can provide they can also get here.”
Born and Raised is located at 2106 N. Zaragoza Rd, El Paso. It opens on Thursday, June 15.