Celebrating 70 years

Michelle Sereda

Photo by Cathy Wagner

La Hacienda, Chico’s oldest restaurant and one of Chico’s oldest businesses, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this week (Nov. 5-11). It all began in 1948, when Nat and Tomasa Ybanez opened the original location on Nord Avenue. After a few years, they bought the lot where the restaurant now stands on The Esplanade and built the main dining room. As the business grew, they added to it. Their son-in-law, Edgar Kimball, who married their daughter Betty, bought it when the Ybanezes were ready to retire, so it stayed in the family. Kimball added the bar during his time and when he started thinking about retirement himself, he sold it to three longtime employees, Michelle Sereda (who was interviewed and photographed for this piece), Margarita Vega and head chef Javier Partida, in 2011. To celebrate, they’ll be running specials all week, culminating on Sunday with a family fun day that will include a bounce house, face-painting and balloons. Join in the celebration at 2635 Esplanade and log onto lahacienda-chico.com for more info.

What is La Hacienda best known for?

We’re famous for our tostada and our secret sauce. Those are two of our original recipes that Tomasa created back in 1948. It started out to be a little dish, like an average-sized tostada that you’d get at a taqueria, and then a longtime customer said, “Why don’t you make this into a meal?” So, then she created a big one. So, it’s a huge tostada—I probably can only eat a third of it, but a lot of people do eat most of it.

Do you have new specials since you took over?

We added Chef Javy’s Tacos, named after our chef, Javier. They’re similar to a street taco. There’s shrimp, carne asada and Mayan pork tacos and they’re delicious. They were something he’d always make for employees, then it was like, “Why don’t we have these on the menu?” So, we added those. We’ve also competed in the Margarita Mix-Off five or six times and we’ve won four of those times. Our margaritas are pretty good.

Do you host a lot of private parties?

We do a lot of parties in [the main banquet room] and we just started catering as well, so we are offering that as something that’s new as of like a month ago. We’re really excited to branch out in that way.

Do you get involved in the community?

We really feel like we have an obligation to the community. One thing that we really take a strong part in is the youth and family foster agencies around town, so we do giving trees and school supplies and donations for them. We’ve done a lot with Rotary. We’ve done the Salvation Army bell-ringing, we do that every year. We did a lot for the Carr Fire up in Redding …. It’s really good for a lot of our staff who are college-age kids that don’t really get into the town stuff too much. We get them volunteering, which is fun.