The owner of Lovington’s favorite coffee shop talks about living large in a small town.
Nestled in the southeastern corner of New Mexico, Lovington boasts a family-friendly atmosphere, cowboy heritage, and traditional Mexican influences. True Brew Coffee, Lovington’s newest place for a java fix, is the perfect example of this blended culture. Owners Keith Clayton and his wife, Yolanda, both grew up here. At one time, they both worked in the Clayton family’s energy business, an industry that dominates the area’s life and livelihood. We asked Keith, a retired New Mexico State Police and Lea County deputy sheriff, what makes Lovington a destination worth visiting.
Lovington is hometown at its finest, the epitome of what a small town should be. Friday night sports pack the bleachers and football stands with entire families. We love that everyone knows us and we know everyone. The whole community is like that, which is rare these days.
True Brew is a definite family business. Some of our children work here, too. It was a dream of ours for nearly a decade before we found the perfect spot on Main Street. We were nervous about opening a business because we’d never done anything like that. But Lovington always gives people a chance.
We’ve got a hotel coming in and people opening new businesses and more shops. Buildings are starting to fill up with little mom-and-pop shops. We have such good community support for local places; most restaurants are packed on Friday and Saturday. Pioneer Steakhouse has been open for as long as I’ve been alive, and Fish Fridays draw people from Carlsbad and Hobbs. The Lazy 6 restaurant used to be a drugstore with a soda fountain and is now owned by a ranching family that serves authentic food and hangs their old cowboy hats and boots as decorations. You must have a Pancho burger with green chile at Ole Jax—it’s the definition of greasy spoon. Go to the Ranch House in the morning because of the older men drinking coffee and discussing all the world’s problems. They have life figured out.
Visitors might be surprised how beautiful our big Chaparral Park is. There are walking and jogging paths, a lake, areas for activities, and lots of shade. Our downtown is really cool, too. There are massive old trees, a historic theater with a cool marquee, restaurants, the new Tall Tales Gaming store, where families can play board games, and a new ice cream parlor. Every little town has to have ice cream.
What I like about Lovington is that everybody knows everyone, and that the city and county almost work as one cohesive unit. They’re building a Veterans Memorial Park next to the new judicial complex. The fairgrounds and rodeo are only two blocks from that—and we have the coolest fair and rodeo around. They sell out the rodeos all the time, and we get big name country music acts. I’ve got a cowboy friend who says our rodeo grounds is his favorite place to rope in.
The biggest thing we have is our long history and culture, which is a blend of Anglo and Hispanic. The oilfields really combine all the cultures. You have guys from Canada, Texas, the Middle East, Louisiana, and New Mexico. It’s a definite melting pot, with no time for politics or other squabbles.
We all care about the environment, too. We’ve got a lot of hunters and ranchers here who want to protect this way of life. We’re welcoming and embracing other energy sources like wind and solar, because everyone knows oil isn’t going to last forever.
When I was growing up, I wanted to move away. Now, I couldn’t imagine raising my family anywhere else. I’m excited about where we’re headed as a town. I want to take the best of what we see when we travel and bring it back to Lovington. We’re super proud when we hear customers say that True Brew feels like a big town coffee shop.