New adventure awaits longtime Azteca employee in Austin, Texas |

New adventure awaits longtime Azteca employee in Austin, Texas

Shawn Ford and his wife, Shannon, packed up Thursday before making the 18-hour trip to Austin, Texas. Shannon accepted a position with Dickson Productions, and Shawn plans to find a job after the family settles into its new home in Austin. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Shawn Ford and his wife, Shannon, were doing their best Thursday morning to make nearly 20 years of stuff fit into the back of a rented U-Haul truck.

“It’s not easy,” Shawn said. “We have both been here forever, but a really good job opportunity presented itself to Shannon, and we hopped on it. I’m going to miss the community here.”

The Fords are leaving Steamboat Springs for Austin, Texas, where Shannon will take a position with Dickson Productions — the company that brings Music Fest to Steamboat each year. Shannon previously worked as catering and conference services director at The Steamboat Grand.

The move also means Shawn, who has worked making burritos at Azteca Taqueria for 16 years, will no longer be behind the counter to greet customers and make them a breakfast burrito.

In addition to a truckload of possessions, the Fords, along with their 12-year-old Ava, will take decades of memories with them to Austin. During their time in Steamboat, the family has feasted on the lifestyle the Yampa Valley offers. Shawn said he will miss hiking to scenic landmarks, biking the area’s single track and spending time playing disc golf with friends.

“You gotta take advantage of it when you got it,” said Shawn, who’s also an avid snowboarder. “There is no snow is Austin, but hopefully, we can get back from time to time.”

Jonas Gabriel, owner of Azteca, said it is going to be hard losing a longtime employee who he has counted on for years. Shawn joined the staff when the Mexican restaurant occupied the space where Into the West is now. Azteca is now located on Ninth Street.

“He’s worked five or six shifts for us a week, forever,” Gabriel said. “He’s been our early guy.”

That means getting to work by 6 a.m. to get things rolling for the day. Shawn admitted that it wasn’t always easy getting out of bed that early, but once the first customer walked through the door, he knew this is where he needed to be.

“I loved our clientele and our patrons — they were awesome,” Shawn said. “We had some definite die-hard locals who ate in there all the time. They were a great group of people, and I’m going to miss them.”

He said he will miss making the ever popular breakfast burrito, his personal favorite.

Shawn laughed when asked how many burritos he has made over the years.

“The hardest was either the fish or chimi (changas), because you have to stop the line and go to the fryer,” Shawn said. “Other than that everything was laid out in front of you and you just go.”

Shawn isn’t sure what he will do in Austin but he said he isn’t too worried about finding a job. In fact, he said he may even try to find work at a restaurant that specializes in burritos and Mexican food.

“Oh yeah,” Shawn responded when asked if he loved his job at Azteca. “If you love the people you work with, and you like what you do, it’s like you never really work a day.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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