We are often asked how Duarte's came to be. It all started in 1894 when my great-grandfather, Frank, brought a barrel of whiskey from Santa Cruz and placed it on top of the very bar you see today. The price was ten cents for one whiskey, two bits for three. Business thrived until prohibition.
In 1934 the second generation reopened the bar. At that time they expanded with a soda fountain, a barber shop, and served sandwiches. My grandfather Frank, tended bar and cut hair, my father scooped ice cream, and my grandmother, Emma, ran the kitchen. Grandma came in at nine in the morning, baked pies until noon (she was famous for her pies), then would wait tables until closing time. Frank died in 1961. Emma continued with the business until she died in 1982. Grandma is the person many old customers remember and identify with Duarte's. Even though Grandma's presence is no longer here, her spirit is.
In the 1950s, the third generation joined in. My father, Ron, enhanced the menu with his famed artichoke dishes along with introducing the equally famous crab cioppino. He has since started our vegetable garden, which lies just behind the restaurant, and stays in close touch with local fishermen, thus assuring fresh vegetables and fresh fish for the menu.
Behind the scenes is my mother, Lynn, who arranges flowers, does scheduling and keeps a steady hand on bookkeeping.
The fourth generation arrived in the mid-eighties. Tim, our parents, and myself have been running this business together for the last twenty years. We have experienced the restaurant flooding, septic back-ups, the dot-com frenzy, drunken cooks, lean winters and bar fights. We have also experienced success, loyal employees that are like family, and the privilege of having served people from every corner of the world.
Today, Duarte's is considered a landmark. We serve an average of 13,000 people a month. We have grown from two employees in the fifties to the sixty-five we have now. Our menu back in the thirties was sandwiches and ice cream. Now we have an extensive menu focusing on artichoke dishes, fresh fish, and a wine list of over two hundred different labels. Through all the years and the changes that came, the core has stayed the same: family run, fresh ingredients, and hard work.
In recognition of our restaurant, in May of 2003, the James Beard Foundation in New York awarded Duarte's an honorary award as an American Classic. We were one of five restaurants in the United States to be honored. We are very proud to receive this award.
Thank you, and enjoy your meal.
|© 2009 Duarte's Tavern