Naomi Ruiz, the new owner of the completely remodeled FlapJacks Breakfast & Grill, said she had been in the restaurant industry for more than 10 years and was excited about opening her own business in Tres Pinos.
With a “soft opening” on June 19, (advertising was limited to the business Facebook page), and just in time for Father’s Day weekend, she was busy going back and forth between the kitchen and serving area answering her new staff’s questions and making sure the first day ran smoothly.
“I’ve been in and out of the restaurant business since I was about 20,” she said. “I started out as a dishwasher and worked my way up to full-time management, working 12-hour days. I feel that with the staffing I have that includes all of our past experiences it will go well.”
Ruiz said her family had thought about opening up a restaurant for a number of years, but it was only talk until her uncle got involved. “I have very strong family support and he was interested in undertaking it with me," she said. "We looked at other prospects, but this is the one that grabbed our attention.”
Her uncle, Shannon Pride, owner of Pride Conveyance Systems Inc. in Hollister, which makes aluminum cans, is her “not-so-silent” backer. “He’s very successful and I feel that with his experience, along with his faith and trust in me, we can do this together,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said she decided to keep the FlapJacks name because it is both “catchy and familiar with the local community.” She felt that this familiarity would comfort local residents. “People go where they recognize the name, which I think is beneficial not only for ourselves, but to them. And a majority of the menu is virtually the same as before, except we’ve added a few hot sandwiches and breakfast items.”
As she and her 12 new employees go through their paces opening day, Ruiz said her goal is to make sure FlapJacks Breakfast & Grill is known for its friendliness. “I know it’s important for the food to taste good, but customer service is important, too.”
Though born in Santa Maria, Ruiz considers herself a local. “I’m a Haybaler, class of 2003,” she said with pride. “We moved here when I was younger because my uncle employed the family. So, we are all very grateful and very lucky to have him in our lives.”
At San Benito High School Ruiz played basketball and participated in track and field, where she specialized in throwing the shot put and discus. “I went to state for the discus. But prior to that I played powder puff football and I dislocated my elbow, which I think inhibited my performance in discus.”
Now, as a new restaurant entrepreneur, she does it all. “Mostly, I’ll function as general manager, but if they need help in the kitchen I’ll be there. After all, I started out as a dishwasher, I’ve worked the line and done some food prep. I’m kind of all over the place. Whatever needs to be done I’ll do my best to help.”
She’s quick, though, to point out it’s all about teamwork. “We’re a team and it’s going to take all of us. I feel with everybody’s support and hard work we will be successful,” she said.
And she instinctively understands who her customer base is. “Our main clientele are passersby. We’re a pit stop for those traveling on the Airline Highway,” Ruiz said. “But we’re working on some advertising and a way to market ourselves. Hopefully, we will improve and bring in more than people where were just driving by.”
As for the locals, she said, “Come try us out. We can be very accommodating.”
FlapJacks Breakfast & Grill’s business hours are: Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/FlapJacksBreakfast/info?tab=overview
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