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In north-central New York, surrounded by the Thousand Islands and St. Lawrence Seaway to the north and west, and the Adirondack foothills to the southeast, Drum Country is a prosperous three-county region rich in character and opportunity.
From award-winning manufacturing organizations to some of America’s best universities, plus ample natural resources for recreation and green technology, our region is poised for continued success.
As the largest United States Army base in the northeast, Fort Drum is the heart of Drum Country’s culture and economy. Employing thousands of area residents and bringing thousands more families to the area each year, the fort is a driving force of our economy.
And yet, our towns and villages remain welcoming, small-town locales with histories and unique businesses all their own.
One such family business was recently featured by NNY 360: El Gran Patron. Located in downtown Natural Bridge and just a few minutes from Fort Drum, the area’s newest restaurant features authentic flavors and products from Mexico.
Sgt. Fatima Baculima and her husband Jose Lazcares opened their restaurant in May 2022, after Lazcares lost his job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jose grew up working in his parents’ Mexican grocery store in NYC, so he began to head down for products and the two started selling tacos out of their home off-post.
They developed quite the following, even as Sgt. Baculima continued to work full-time as a soldier. The Natural Bridge location became available just as they began looking for a food truck, according to the article, and business has been booming.
Fort Drum is home to more than 30,000 Soldiers and their family members. On average, 30% of those stationed at Fort Drum remain in our communities after retiring: There are currently more than 19,000 military retirees and their dependents living within the Drum Country Region!
And all of those folks need somewhere to shop, work, and eat!
Sgt. Baculima and her husband noticed rather quickly that the Fort Drum area lacked the flavor they were used to. She moved to the United States from Ecuador in 2015, leaving her government job and life at home to find something better in America.
Though she has a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from her home country, she spent her first year in the U.S. working at Home Depot and taking college courses. She enlisted in 2016 and was stationed on Fort Drum in 2020.
“Sometimes I don’t realize how much I have on my plate,” Sgt. Baculima told NNY 360. “I’m pregnant, a soldier, a mom, a business owner, daughter, sister, and a wife.”
Sgt. Baculima and her husband run the restaurant together, with Jose handling most of the cooking, and Fatima managing financials and operations.
Even with all of the work of three very big jobs (on base, in the restaurant, and as a mother), she was also recently presented with an award for her work on Fort Drum.
“I felt so proud of myself and so proud of my family,” she said in the article.
Many folks, retired soldiers and civilians, find incredible opportunities in the Drum Country region, whether because of the support of community members, access and location, or affordability (or all of the above!).
The Drum Country New York partnership team is here to connect current and future business owners, families, college graduates, and others interested in relocating to north-central New York to grants and resources that can help make the transition even smoother. Explore some of the many programs available: