Ranch & Coast Magazine

June 2023

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Page 85 of 99

connect people is year marks the 40th anniversary of the Rubio's Coastal Grill empire. His first taco shop opened in 1983 in Mission Beach. Company history includes a shaky opening day. en came massive expansion, a successful IPO, and a return to private company status. Most recently, the chain survived a pandemic-induced bankruptcy. Today, there are still more than 150 namesake eateries in California, Nevada, and Arizona. More than 270 million fish tacos have been sold. Rubio is telling me tales about his early forays south of the border. We're sitting on a shaded patio with an idyllic pool view behind the recently renovated manse in Olivenhain he shares with his wife, Dione. Flashback to the mid-1970s: Rubio's now- gray hair is jet black and he's on the five-year graduation plan at San Diego State University. He likes to load his station wagon — nicknamed "Rhonda Honda" — with tents and surfboards. Rubio recalls road trips to Mexico that wear out music cassette tapes. Songs included prophetic titles: "Show Me the Way" by Peter Frampton, and "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" and "Fins" by Jimmy Buffett. Sometimes he takes the Transpeninsular Highway to the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas. Most of the time, Rubio and crew join dozens of spring breakers pitching tents on a Gulf of California beach. at's where the magic moment happens. "We camp south of San Felipe on a beautiful, pristine, virgin beach," Rubio says. "We create our own village. At night, we go to Club Miramar for drinks. When we get hungry, the fish taco stand is out the back door to the left." Rubio doesn't recall the stand's name. A cook named Carlos volunteers the fish taco batter ingredients (sans portions). Flour, beer, water, salt, pepper, garlic, and mustard. Rubio writes it down and carries the list around in his wallet for years. Eventually, it becomes the centerpiece of a wildly successful business plan. Do you remember your first fish taco? It took five years of coaxing and cajoling for me to try one. I had this cartoonish image in my mind of a whole fish — head and tail still attached — wrapped in an ill-fitting tortilla towel. << The Olivenhain home fits the Rubios' Baja-inspired laid-back lifestyle, with doors that open to cozy patios for indoor/outdoor living ranchandcoast.com 86 JUNE 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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