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¡Familia, comida, servicio! 


In 1976, NASA released its first space shuttle, Steve Jobs founded the Apple Computer Company, the United States celebrated its bicentennial, and a family-owned Mexican restaurant fired up its grills and opened its doors to the Central Coast. Old Juan’s Cantina, now 35 years later, is still open, and business is better than ever.

John Verdin, also known as “Old Juan,” built his business upon three principles: “familia, comida, and servicio” (family, food, and service). Today, Verdin’s daughter, Eva, and his son, Adam, co-own the restaurant and bring their father’s dreams to life every day by cooking up delicious food in a family-friendly environment. Many of the dishes served at the establishment are inspired by traditional dishes from the family’s ancestral hometown of Guanajuato, Mexico.

Early this year, Old Juan’s added 20 tables to its floor, increasing its indoor occupancy to 180 guests, and it now has the ability to seat groups of up to 30 in the downstairs room. Customers can also enjoy outdoor dining on the patio while gazing upon the scenic greenery, terra cotta fountain, and festive lights, giving you the feel of being in old Mexico.

 “This is an exciting time for us,” Eva said. “The restaurant is like home to us, and we want to welcome everyone to join us, and hope they enjoy their experience, one that carries on the traditions our father started 35 years ago.”

In honor of the restaurant’s 35th anniversary, Old Juan’s is offering weekly specials as well as a contest on Facebook throughout October, with a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. To enter, visit Old Juan’s Facebook page at and write a recommendation using the Recommendation tab on the right. Then post on the Facebook page that you’ve recommended the restaurant. A winner will be randomly chosen on Nov. 1.

Old Juan’s Cantina is located at 649 Pier Ave. in Oceano. To view the menu, see specials, or find other information, visit

In other news, the Exploration Station in Grover Beach is dabbling in science everyone—21 and older, that is—can get behind. On Nov. 6, from 2 to 5 p.m., the Exploration Station is presenting a fundraiser titled “The Chemistry of Cocktails.”

“Local mixologists from the area’s top restaurants and social gathering places will compete in a bartending competition, featuring an original cocktail concoction of their design,” the station announced in a press release.

Local celebrities have the tasty privilege of serving as judges, though a crowd favorite will be awarded as well. Tickets cost $35, and include live music and a silent auction. You must be 21 or older to attend.

The Exploration Station is located at 867 Ramona Avenue in Grover Beach. For more information, visit, call 473-1421, or e-mail

Intern Alex Matherly compiled this week’s Bites. We want a Bite! Send us your food, wine, and related news at

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