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

Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on August 27th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 25

Discovery Corner: Come celebrate R.H. Tesene Day with us!


Do you like Santa Maria-style tri-tip and cake? If you said yes to either of those (or both), you’re in luck! On Aug. 31, Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum staffers will be host to R.H. Tesene Day, an annual community day celebrating the birthday of one of our late, great donors.

Admission to the museum will be free from noon to 4 p.m., and we’ll have birthday cake and several fun, ranch-themed activities. For those who want to fill their bellies with our city’s favorite meal, Joe Garcia of Big Joe’s Brats will be cooking up tri-tip and other tasty treats. Proceeds from the meal will benefit the museum.

Nearly 10 years ago, a generous monetary donation from Tesene allowed us to open our doors, and his amazing BBQ Hall of Fame is one of our most popular exhibits! Although he made most of his money in real estate, Tesene’s true passion was barbecuing Santa Maria-style tri-tip, which he proudly served at his establishment, The Beacon Outpost Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, in the 1940s and ’50s. He wrote all about this delicious grub in his book, Santa Maria Style Barbecue.

“The Santa Maria Barbecue grew out of this tradition and achieved its ‘style’ when local residents began to string cuts of beef on skewers or rods and cook the meat over the hot coals of a red oak fire,” Tesene wrote in his book.

The brands you see in the BBQ Hall of Fame exhibit have a fun story, too. Back when The Beacon Outpost was booming, Tesene noticed that his Sunday nights were slow so he decided to invite Santa Maria’s best barbecuers to cook at the restaurant. They, of course, spread the word and invited their friends, who then invited their friends, and soon a thriving Sunday night tradition was born.

According to Tesene’s other book, The Beacon Story, it was tradition for any guest barbecuer to bring their own branding irons, heat them in the barbecue pit, and burn their brands into the block. These historic brands now hang in the Discovery Museum.

The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is at 705 S. McClelland St. in Santa Maria. We are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.


Amy Asman Blasco, program director for the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, wrote this week’s Discovery Corner, a weekly column in the Sun highlighting events, science activities, and more. Send comments to

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