Maria’s Manager Tito De Latorre, Yolo Eats Executive Chef John Gamboni, and Owner Kellie Morgan gave me the lowdown on this very special event and a little history lesson about Maria’s Cantina. Plus, did you know…there’s a secret menu item!?
What are the party plans?
Tito: We will be closed for lunch on Sunday so we can prepare for the event. The parking lot will be turned into a Summer Bash. We’ll have a DJ from 4:00 – 5:00 pm and then the salsa band, Conjunto Liberacion, from 5:00 – 7:00.
We’ll be serving three versions of street style tacos (3 for $5), margaritas blended and on the rocks ($5), and beer on tap (2 for $5, or 1 for $3). Sodas are a $1 each and waters are free.
So, the parking lot is the main event area. What is happening inside the restaurant?
Tito: Head Chef, Billy Jeffries, will have two specials to serve inside the restaurant. We’ll also have a free nacho bar! The main party will be outside but if folks want to have dinner inside we are open.
Where did the name Maria’s come from?
Kellie: I moved to Woodland in 1985 and since then have been mistaken for a woman named Maria. Over and over again this happens. One time someone shouted at me from a street corner, “Maria! Maria! Isn’t your dad’s name Jose?”. I had to say, “Um, no – it’s Elmer!”. So, when we started thinking about opening a Mexican restaurant, Jeff said, “Well, we have to name it Maria’s.” And so it is. Although I’m still on the lookout for Maria and hope to meet her face to face some day. Hopefully, people are calling her Kellie and asking if her dad is Elmer.
Tell me about the decor.
Kellie: We based the decor on the Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Jeff had the vision that it should look like an adobe house in the middle of the desert where Clint rides up on his horse, goes inside and orders a plate of beans, a tortilla, a jalapeno and a shot of whiskey! If you would like to have this “secret menu” item, just order the Gringo with or without a shot of whiskey.
Tell me the “Day in the Life” that is Maria’s Cantina?
Tito: It’s different every day. There are always new challenges with our guests, our vendors and our staff. But in general, we are here at 7:30 am and leave around midnight.
John: Working in a restaurant is different than an office job. In this industry, it’s like being on stage. When we open at 11:00 am the curtain goes up and we are on. Everything has to be set and prepared and it is then a non-stop process.
From year one to year five, what’s changed for Maria’s Cantina?
John: The decor has evolved, especially on the patio. We have the fans moving air and the additional foliage makes it a more cozy area. The menu had evolved too; Guests have provided feedback and Chef Billy has really owned the menu and improved it. We have staff that are still with us from day one and we’ve evolved into a family too.
306 6th Street