Thirty Years of Family Ownership Comes to an End
By Noel Smith
If you live in Aptos you’ve probably driven by it a hundred times, but when was the last time you stopped in for a meal at Rio Del Mar Mexican Cuisine? If so, you already know about their homemade tamales, scrumptious skirt steak and incomparable fajitas … and how much you will soon be missing them
Rio Del Mar Mexican Cuisine, Blanca’s Restaurant, is located just north of Redwood Village and has been in business at 9067 Soquel Drive in Aptos for the past thirty years. However, since Blanca wasn’t able to sell her business, just the property, it is feared that these may be lost to the many loyal customers the restaurant has developed.
The basis for Rio Del Mar Mexican’s Cuisine’s unique flavors were family recipes that were brought across the border by Blanca’s uncle, Federico Ham. Those recipes are the same today as they were when he invented them in a Mexicali kitchen almost a half-century ago.
Moreno’s parents, Merced and Jesus Ham, bought the restaurant in 1988. Both her mother and her father were born to Chinese fathers and Mexican mothers. Shortly after they opened the restaurant, Blanca left her home in Mexico to join her parents, uncle and one of her brothers in helping run the restaurant. Blanca had been an elementary school teacher in Mexico and this was her first experience in working in a restaurant
“When I started here, I had no idea about the business of running a restaurant,” Blanca said.
She learned how to wait tables, keep the customers happy, and how to mix a margarita. Twelve years later in 2000, her parents decided it was time to retire and Blanca took over the business and has lived and breathed Mexican Cuisine ever since.
“When I continued my parent’s Mexican Restaurant tradition, I knew that Rio del Mar and its clients had become a fundamental part of my life. First watching my parents create Rio del Mar, develop their recipes and ambiance and getting clients that appreciated what they did was something beautiful. Continuing their job made it part of my life, and I have found deep satisfaction.”
Blanca continued, “Once the recipes and cooking process were developed and perfected to complement a Mexican warm ambiance, everything was about the service and the clients. We have had clients for decades that became friends and seeing them return over and over is what provided meaning to what we do.”
Six years ago, Blanca lost her husband. Now it’s 2018 and time for a change. She will be moving to Southern California to be closer to her two daughters Rosella, and Dennis, and her grandchildren.
At Times Publishing Group, we are proud to have had Rio Del Mar Mexican Restaurant as an advertiser since our beginning and part of our family. We hope that somehow, in some way, the Rio Del Mar Mexican Cuisine tradition in Aptos will be preserved and that the many friends and customers that Blanca has served over the years will remember the warmth and friendliness that was always part of the service.
Rio Del Mar Mexican Restaurant will be closing its doors for the final time December 23 around 9 p.m.