Dan Diaz (left) serves up some Familia Diaz food at the recent Taste of the Valley hosted by the Santa Clara Valley Boys & Girls Club. Photo by Don Johnson

Familia Diaz: SP landmark restaurant to celebrate 70th anniversary

April 07, 2006
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA gala celebration is being planned for one of Santa Paula’s oldest businesses, attendees at the March Good Morning Santa Paula! learned. Dan Diaz of Familia Diaz, who hosted the Chamber of Commerce sponsored event, said that the family restaurant, located at the corner of 10th Street and East Harvard Boulevard, will be celebrating its 70th anniversary all year long.“My grandparents met 90 years ago in a Limoneira packinghouse, and in the mid-1930s determined that there was a need for evening entertainment for migrant workers.” In 1936 the couple built a small cantina, living quarters and storage building on the same corner where the modern restaurant now welcomes diners. “The buffet area is where the cantina originally was, a few tables, a few bar stools and grandmother,” a noted cook, “made from scratch what was ordered,” noted Diaz.Santa Paula – much like Familia Diaz that it surrounds - has seen small and large changes over the years. “There was no traffic light at that time, the freeway was not across the street. Inside we didn’t have any electric blenders, no deep fat fryers, no ice machines or freezers – just an icebox.”Now, “I have three satellites on my roof,” and other changes that Diaz said he can only imagine what his grandfather would say about. “But the real beauty of how much it has changed is that we’ve seen a lot of growth, not so much in technology but in families” who met, married, had children, grandchildren, even great-great-grandchildren who patronize Familia Diaz. “Grandmother was a great cook,” and Familia Diaz offered a wonderful atmosphere that drew generations of families to the eatery.“I’ve had people ask me what is the secret to a family-owned business…. I tell them a variety of things, but the most important factor is just don’t die!” joked Diaz.A major influence to a family-owned or any successful business is to “hire good employees” that you “take care of… we’ve had some for decades. Listen to your customers, they’re the ones” who create profit. “The customers are the ones who are walking in the door and helping you out. Know what is going right and what is going wrong,”
Diaz noted that Familia Diaz has always been responsive to customer requests, even against their better judgement. “Doug Nelson would come in and always ask” for an obscure Mexican brand of beer, but it was special ordered; although “last week I saw three bottles in the original case still sitting there after eight years!”Familia Diaz will be offering a special 70th anniversary menu, having specials alternating each day, including “ten cent cups of Joe” made with Limoneira coffee beans, two-for-one tacos, nickel Coca Cola and 70 cent margaritas. “We’ll have Friday Night Follies,” including a contest where entries will compete in consuming a four-pound, four-ounce burrito.“The best thing is all year long” a contest will be held, with a cruise as the grand prize, noted Diaz. A finalist will be drawn each month, and at the end of the celebratory year the winner will be selected at random.“What gives us the most pleasure is not having a legacy of being proud for 70 years, but the amount of friends who come in our doors… that’s always very special, priceless. It’s always entertaining when you give a slice of your life, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries,” by celebrating at Familia Diaz. “We look forward to serving many more years in the community… thank you for your patronage and we look forward to seeing you during our anniversary.”

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