1927 – Manuel and Alice are born in Watts, CA.
1965 – Manuel and Alice open the restaurant on March 15 with nine tables, limited menu and a license for beer & wine. Manuel is cook, server and dishwasher. Alice has a day job at the school district to support the family. Leonardo is six years old. Restaurant serves its first Friday fist special: Huachinango à la Jarocha.
1968 – Menu expands to 21 tables. Becomes a hangout of Ken Kesey and some of the Merry Pranksters; restaurant is mentioned in the book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
1972 – Leonardo starts working as a busser in the dining room.
1973 – Flamenco dancers are regular entertainment in the late hours of Wednesday nights.
1974 – Restaurant serves as the headquarters for a farm workers cooperative organized by Manuel and Alice to help migrant families settle, find housing and send their children to school.
1986 – Eduardo Diaz, our longtime manager, starts working for the Santana family.
1988 – Liquor license expands to include spirits and the liquor bar is built. Manuel’s serves its first Margarita.
1989 – Manuel retires from the restaurant to do art; his son Leonardo takes the reins. Restaurant is not damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake, stays open and serves food to emergency crews.
1992 – Coffee blend is changed to our signature Arabica & French roast blend and Mexican Chocolate Ice cream becomes a favorite on the menu.
1993 – Restaurant starts accepting Visa and MasterCard.
2001 – Leonardo and Patricia marry. Alice retires and Patricia takes over her administrative duties for the restaurant.
2002 – Alice passes on June 1 at the age of 75.
2006 – Manuel’s gets its first real sign painted on the awning. The original carved wood sign remains on the awning’s right edge.
2008 – Manuel passes on July 1 at the age of 81, just awarded ‘Artist of the Year’ by the Santa Cruz County Arts Council.
2012 – Manuel’s is awarded Business of the Year by the Aptos Chamber of Commerce.
2013 – Leonardo’s traditional Mole Poblano is awarded Judges Choice winner in annual Mole & Mariachi Festival in Santa Cruz; sauce is featured in Sunday & Monday Night specials.
2014 – Mary Bulfin retires after 30 years as manager — 1st person to retire after a lifetime career at Manuel’s.
2015 – March 9 – 15: 50th Anniversary Celebration Week
2020– March 15 – 55 years in business celebration fizzles due to pandemic worries.
2020 – March 16 –Pandemic Covid 19 shelter-in-place county order forces dining room to close and Manuel’s serving only take-out, all staff began wearing masks and on July 7 – Manuel’s started serving outdoors on 7 socially distanced tables in the dahlia garden behind Manuel’s.
2021 – With pandemic restrictions lifted, Manuel’s serves indoors again. The temporary outdoor patio closed.