Santa Maria Sun / Biz Brief
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 29
Spotlight on: Bill's Take OutSalvador and Beatrice Barragan, owners
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
Often, the progressive flow of enterprise propels owners to make their businesses bigger and better. But sometimes, success comes down to remembering to “keep it simple, stupid.”
That creed has perhaps been the key to success for iconic Santa Maria restaurant Bill’s Take Out, one of the few remaining classic drive-ins on the Central Coast.
Opened in 1974 by Beatrice and Salvador Barragan, Bill’s has been serving classic American fare to Santa Maria residents for decades. The restaurant, which sits on the city’s main thoroughfare, continues to be popular with people of all ages—a must-stop burger joint harkening back to the days of greasers and hot rods.
According to Mario Barragan, son of Beatrice and Salvador—and current manager of the restaurant—his parents bought the business as a way to keep their eight kids together in the afternoons. All eight children worked in the restaurant at one time or another. Mario started when he was 6 years old, and having been around for a while, he’s seen a lot come and go.
“This used to be a good place to watch Cruise Night—before the police cracked down,” Barragan said.
During the 1950s and ’60s, hundreds of high school students would cruise down Broadway in their hot rods. Barragan remembers the mad rush of students who used to come from Santa Maria High School before it became a closed campus. However, Barragan said Bill’s is still popular with students from El Camino Junior High.
Consistency has been important at Bill’s Take Out; the menu hasn’t changed since the place opened, except to add menudo to the menu on Saturdays and Sundays. Barragan said the restaurant will go through about 25 to 30 gallons of the Mexican specialty soup.
“Apparently, menudo is a good hangover cure,” Barragan said with a chuckle.
Other than that, Bill’s still serves the same nostalgic fare: cheeseburgers with special sauce, pickles, and onions, fries, sodas, and shakes. Barragan said he goes through 150 to 200 burgers a day during the week and at least 300 to 400 burgers a day on the weekends.
Born and bred in Santa Maria, Barragan has spent a lot of time at Bill’s Take Out watching the town transform around the mom-and-pop shop.
“There used to be car dealerships on either side and a Sears and Roebuck across the street,” he remembered.
Despite the town changing and growing around them, Bill’s Take Out still looks the same as it did when it was built in 1953. With its modern ’50s architecture—bright colors and shapes—Bill’s has become a classic icon and source of nostalgia for Santa Maria residents. Barragan said keeping the same menu, building, and owners has a lot to do with the restaurant’s success.
Coming up on 60 years of business, Bill’s Take Out was recognized on Sept. 11 by the Santa Maria Landmark Committee. The drive-in was acknowledged as an object of historical merit for keeping the building original.
Bill’s Take Out is at 523 N. Broadway.
For more information, visit Bill’s Take Out on Facebook or call 922-6116.
• Buellton’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing and Solvang’s Valley Brewers are combining forces to present a Pro-Am brewing competition at the inaugural Bruegala Buellton Oktoberfest event on Oct. 27.
The competition includes a Best of Show category. The grand prize- winner will brew his or her recipe at the Figueroa Mountain brewery with master brewer A.J. Stoll.
The Bruegala Buellton event celebrates German beers, food, and music, and runs from 2 to 6 p.m. at River View Park. Tickets cost $25 in advance or $35 at the door and include six beer tickets, a lunch, a commemorative stein, and live music.
Tickets can be purchased online at bruegalabuellton.com.
For more information, call Valley Brewers at 325-6320.
Staff Writer Kristina Sewell wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Highlights were written and compiled by Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.
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