As Ofelia “Ofie” Escobedo receives warm embraces from her customers and proudly shows off pictures of CHS students alongside those of her own children, it becomes obvious that she is a beloved member of the Carlsbad community and the perfect choice for Grand Marshall of the 2013 Lancer Day Parade.
“We’re always really busy during the parade and the homecoming game but I know a lot of kids in the community because they like to come down here for lunch and I’m very honored because I know there were a lot of other people who deserved to be Grand Marshall,” Escobedo said.
Escobedo has been an active member of the community since childhood. Her parent’s opened up Jaure’s Market, Carlsbad’s oldest business, in 1943 which today serves as a museum of Carlsbad’s history. Escobedo and her two sisters inherited the business in 1986, moved it across the street and added a deli to turn it into a local hotspot: Lola’s 7-Up Market and Deli. This involvement has allowed her to form a connection with Carlsbad and it’s community members.
“I remember being a little girl in my parent’s grocery store and I would get to hear all the stories about the lives of people in town,” Escobedo said. “It was such a small, tight-knit community then and it’s gotten much bigger but everyone’s still very close. We have a lot of regular customers that come in every morning who I get to talk with and all the kids who come for lunch are very respectful.”
Today, Escobedo works tirelessly to keep Lola’s one of Carlsbad’s favorite businesses. She opens up the market at 7:00 a.m. to a crowd of regulars and receives a rush of CHS students at lunch time. Though she works hard, she still makes time to chat with all of her customers who have become an extension of her already large family.
“Lola’s is a meeting place for the community. We have people of all ages and ethnicities come together here,” Escobedo said.
In addition to running Lola’s, the museum and a very large family, Escobedo has taken up a role as an activist in the community. She ran for city council in 2004 and although she wasn’t elected, she has still made a significant impact in the lives of community members.
“When I came back to Carlsbad there was a lot of graffiti, drugs and dirt in the community, “Escobedo said. “I really wanted to help out the kids so I got very involved, especially with the schools because I felt that some of them needed positive guidance from the community.”
Escobedo has been honored many times for her work. Lola’s has been recognized by Sunset Magazine, the Larry Himmel Show, AOL and other publications while Escobedo herself was named San Diego’s Latino of the Year in 2012.
“I’ve gotten a lot of awards but this one means the most because it’s from the kids,” Escobedo said.