Monday, June 18, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 24th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 20 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 20

Hobnobbing With Helen


Dave Cross connected with Viki Murray at the Chamber of Commerce’s July mixer held at Rancho Bowl. Cross is director of the chamber’s Economic Development Commission. Murray owns Rancho Bowl.

Who knew that Rancho Bowl, at the corner of Donovan and Broadway, is more than just a bowling alley?

Certainly not I.

But at the Chamber of Commerce’s regular monthly mixer held on Thursday, July 18, at this locale, I found that the sprawling bowling alley building is part of a business that includes a coffee shop, catering services, and a facility for banquets that serves full-course meals.

Owner Viki Murray filled me in on the many facets of Rancho Bowl, as well as on local history.

Murray is someone local history buffs would enjoy schmoozing with over a cup of coffee. She has lots of stories. This third-generation Santa Marian belongs to a family that has been influential in the Santa Maria Valley.

“My grandfather immigrated from Italy,” she told me, “and landed in Guadalupe.”

About the Rancho Bowl itself, she said, “My father built it in 1958.” And, of course, it has been thriving ever since.

This mixer was a little different than the usual. First, the food was made on the premises. Murray’s husband John barbecued tasty pork riblets for the crowd. Other staff prepared the veggie plates and the bean and avocado dip for the chips.

Fess Parker’s wine was available for tasting, and there was complimentary wine and beer at the bar.

Secondly, mixer guests got to take home bags of super fresh vegetables, picked that morning. Viki Murray’s brother, farmer Jim Aquistapace, sent over bushels of produce for the chamber guests.

The generous takeaway was a first for me at a chamber mixer. Jim, thank you for the broccoli, cauliflower, romaine hearts, green leafy lettuce, and iceberg lettuce. All very much appreciated.

Rancho Bowl employees (left to right) Jalene Svoboda, Pam Isel, Larry Cobb, and Karen Cobb took a few minutes off from serving duties at the Chamber of Commerce monthly mixer on Thursday, July 18.

Mixers are for networking—and for finding out what is going on. Hobnobbing found out that two Central Coast businesses are investing resources in the Santa Maria Valley (which she didn’t know).

The Holiday Inn’s new food and beverage manager, Claudia Hooks, told me the inn is under new ownership and new management that is planning changes. “We are looking for some exciting developments at that hotel,” she said.

Ed Pena, local sales manager for KEYT-TV headquartered in Santa Barbara, had a similar story. KEYT-TV is under new ownership and new management that is cultivating a presence in Santa Maria. “We now have two news reporters here,” Ed told me, “and are actively seeking to do stories on this area.”

KEYT just opened an office at the corner of Betteravia and Miller. Their local marketing specialist, Kaleigh Moss, was also on hand.

Well, that is an interesting development, in view of the fact that many locals feel abandoned by KCOY.

Orcutt resident Paul Coyne, Jr., who is running for Congress as a conservative Democrat, came to shake hands and meet potential constituents.

The guys from radio station MEGA 9871 performed DJ duties and announced winners of the raffle prizes. No tickets necessary—only a business card dropped in a basket.

Angel Ortega from the Boy Scouts was a winner, as was Neena Cunningham from the Back Alley Pro Shop.

This was the first mixer ever attended by Claudia Hooks (mentioned above), who won the grand prize: a barbecue for 20 prepared and donated by Rancho Bowl.


If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at


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