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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 4
Spotlight on: Maria's Cre-Asian DinerMaria Mandziara, owner
BY AMY ASMAN
Are you ready to embark on an epicurean adventure that will take you from North America, across the ocean to East Asia, and back again? Maria’s Cre-Asian Diner in Santa Maria is your ticket to sampling a cornucopia of culinary delights.
Located on South Broadway between Betteravia Road and McCoy Lane, Maria’s Cre-Asian Diner offers a blend of Asian, American, and Latin foods in a comfortable, family-friendly environment.
“It’s a fusion of food,” owner and head chef Maria Mandziara said. “It’s not just Filipino food; it’s mostly American because I’ve been acculturated to America for the last 20 years. There are a few Filipino dishes cooked in a much healthier fashion, and then you blend in Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, and all the other ethnic cuisines.”
Mandziara is used to cooking up a collection of tastes. As the owner of TLC (Tender Loving Chef) Catering for 20 years, she prepared and served all kinds of delicious dishes. In a recent interview with the Sun, she said she decided to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant so she could interact more with customers and the community.
An acronym on the diner menu sums up Mandziara’s goals as a business owner: “Affordable Simple Innovative Appetizing Nutritious.”
“[The food] is economical, fresh, and high quality,” she said. “And I make sure it’s healthy and that the portions are not too much, because we live in an obesogenic society already where everything is focused on the fast food side. We need to focus more on better nutrition, and educate the public on how to be healthier, and to also enjoy the food.”
In addition to her cooking, Mandziara makes the dining experience more enjoyable by offering lots of perks. Most days the diner is open, there’s a special theme: Monday is sports night; Wednesday is senior night, when seniors get a free appetizer with their meals; Friday is youth night, when kids and teens get a dessert or appetizer for half price; Saturday is karaoke night; and Sunday is family night.
Customers also get little prizes for various reasons, like if they’re wearing a certain color one day or if they eat all their meal (sorry, that one’s just for kids).
“We live in a society with lots of negativity, so it’s important to give back,” Mandziara said, adding that she especially wanted her business to offer a healthy environment for children.
As a drug and alcohol counselor for the Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center, Mandziara keenly understands the importance of a healthy environment.
“We need to get kids involved; they need more positive things to do so they don’t do drugs,” she said.
Luckily, word seems to be getting out about Maria’s Cre-Asian Diner: Mandziara and her husband, Ken, are busy serving mouthwatering lumpia, adobo, enchiladas, fried rice, and more to customers of all ages. The restaurant, which has been open for a little more than a month, will have its grand opening sometime in May.
Maria’s Cre-Asian Diner is at 2255 S. Broadway, Suite 11, and is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information, call 332-3175 or visit mariascreasiandiner.com.
C.A.R.E4Paws, a nonprofit that works to reduce pet overpopulation and keep animals out of shelters, announced the launch of a Critical Communities Spay-Neuter Outreach program in Lompoc, which press materials described as “Santa Barbara County’s most overlooked pet-owning community.” The year-long project promotes spaying and neutering and responsible pet ownership in specific areas of the city that are reportedly known for housing a large number of unaltered dogs and cats. On April 8 and 9, C.A.R.E.4Paws will have a booth at Lompoc’s Boys & Girls Club (1025 W. Ocean Ave.) from 3 to 5 p.m. Volunteers and therapy dogs from the organization will be there. For more information, visit care4paws.org.
Managing Editor Amy Asman wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.
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