“Rick is a longtime family friend and one of the best in the business,” said Renee Righetti-Fowler, whose grandparents Clarence and Rosalie established the Far Western Tavern in 1958 along with Rosalie’s cousin, Richard Maretti, and his wife Jean. “We are thrilled to have such a talented and experienced chef at the helm of our restaurant.”
Manson is renowned as the chef and proprietor of Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods in Orcutt, which he is closing. The restaurant’s last day of business will be Saturday, June 25. The space is now available for lease, and the infrastructure of the restaurant is up for sale. All unredeemed gift certificates for Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods will be honored by the Far Western Tavern. Manson will also continue to execute all previously scheduled catering events booked through Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods.
“I’m not going away—I’m just moving up the road,” Manson said. “This is a remarkable opportunity to focus on what I do best and to grow my career as a chef, and I couldn’t pass it up.”
Manson joins the Far Western Tavern in advance of the restaurant’s move to Old Orcutt. The new restaurant is slated to open at 300 Clark Avenue in the early spring of 2012. The existing Far Western Tavern location in Guadalupe will remain open until a few weeks before the move.
Manson has known the Minetti-Righetti family for more than 20 years, dating back to his earliest days as a caterer and restaurateur in the Santa Maria Valley. “It means a lot to me to have their trust, and to help them usher in a new era for the Far Western Tavern,” Manson said.
Righetti-Fowler said that the traditional Far Western Tavern menu will remain intact. “You can still look forward to the familiar favorites,” she said. “What Rick brings to our menu is a remarkable commitment to quality and attention to detail. Also, you can expect to see Rick’s signature creativity on display in our nightly specials, and in our banquet room and catering offerings.”
The second floor of the new Far Western Tavern restaurant promises to feature one of the premier restaurant banquet rooms on the Central Coast, available for parties, business events and other group functions. “Rick has extensive experience with group functions and catering, and he will really reinvigorate those aspects of the Far Western Tavern,” Righetti-Fowler said.
She added that her grandfather, the late Clarence Minetti, was a longtime admirer of Manson. “He was a true fan,” she said. “He had a great respect for Rick’s commitment to quality and his passion for food and hospitality.”
Manson succeeds current chef Barbara Abernethy, who has decided to retire next year. In the meantime, she will work alongside Manson. Abernethy is the daughter of the late Mary Jean Minetti Ruiz, the sister of Clarence Minetti. She began working at the Far Western Tavern in 1974. “Barbara has been an amazing part of the Far Western Tavern experience, and she will be greatly missed,” Righetti-Fowler said.
She added that Abernethy’s impending retirement, along with the upcoming opening of the new restaurant location, created a need for a talented executive chef with deep experience in kitchen design and staff development, as well as catering and banquets.
“Anyone who is familiar with Rick knows that he’s the perfect person to bring added energy and enthusiasm to our kitchen and staff, and to help us hit the ground running at the new restaurant as well,” Righetti-Fowler said.