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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on April 17th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 6

Spotlight on: The Rock Seafood and Grill

Daniel Rivas, owner


Due to popular demand, The Rock Seafood and Grill in Nipomo will soon open its second location in Santa Maria. And expectations for its success are nothing but high.

Welcome to The Rock:
The Rock Seafood and Grill, a family-owned business run by Daniel Rivas (pictured), will be opening its second location on East Main Street in Santa Maria in early May.

Inspiration for the opening sprouted from customer demand, said owner Daniel Rivas, since many Orcutt and Santa Maria residents personally requested another location for the Christian-based establishment. Ever since Jay’s Fish and Chips on Main Street closed a few years ago after 25 years of business, there haven’t been many seafood restaurants to fill the void, Rivas explained.

“We’re very similar to them—we’re family owned and we give a good product, and most of all, a good service, making people feel welcome,” he said.

The restaurant will be open for business in early May at 510 E. Main St., taking the place of Sharky’s Fish & Chips. With Marian Regional Medical Center, Allan Hancock College, and the Santa Maria Town Center mall nearby, its opening is likely to draw many customers, Rivas said.

“It’s an alternative to all the fast food we’re surrounded by,” he said. “We make everything in here from scratch. Nothing comes to us already made, so we have the control of making it a healthy meal. And our customer does, too; if they want to modify it, if they want to do a lettuce wrap with no bread, we can make it
that way.”

The restaurant uses locally grown and organic ingredients and freshly caught fish, he said, and offers different options in cooking methods. For example, the customer can request a dish to be charbroiled over a flame rather than deep-fried.

Rivas, who has been in the restaurant business for 20 years, attributes much of the restaurant’s success to its Christian roots and the environment that creates.

“The vision wasn’t just a restaurant to give service and food at a reasonable price, but it was also spiritual,” Rivas said. “The Rock is based on scripture. That’s what our whole operation is based on, and we put God first. I think people come here because they realize they’re going to get what they used to get years ago— a family environment.”

The Rock’s employees are also a huge part of its success story, Rivas added, and have been with the restaurant since it first opened.

“These guys are loyal, all my staff,” he said. “Everyone refers to them as my kids. I may run the place and it may be my passion, but we’re a family environment. We’re one big happy family.”

Some Nipomo employees will be working at both restaurants once the Santa Maria location opens, Rivas said, in order to achieve the familiar and popular vibe of the original location. New hires include students from Allan Hancock College and the local high schools.

“Most of my employees started in high school, and they’re still with us,” he said. “We teach them good morals, good work ethic, and show them that they’re appreciated.”

Manager Tammy Reasner plans to spend most of her time working at the new location when it opens and anticipates getting to know new customers.

“Most of our customers are regulars and most of them I know by name,” she said. “People come in all the time and want us to open in Arroyo Grande or Pismo, and a lot want us to come to Santa Maria. We get people from all over—our restaurant has a really good name.”

Plans to further expand the business to Santa Barbara, Rivas’ hometown, will take place in the next year or two. After that, new locations might include Paso Robles, Atascadero, and Ventura. 

Despite plans for growth, The Rock prides itself on maintaining traditional values as a small and family-owned business. Rivas hopes more people will choose restaurants like his over big-name fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Jack in the Box.

“My 83-year-old mother works here,” Rivas said. “She spends most of her time here making family recipes. And my wife is five generations of Santa Maria pioneers. We need to support our local businesses if we’re ever going to make a change in our community.”

Intern Andrea Kang wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via mail, e-mail, or fax.