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Third and Current Location 1977 - 1917 12th Street

First El Zarape Location 1944 - 1951

Second Location 1951-1977

Hernandez-Morales Family
and the
History of El Zarape Restaurant

By Mary Belle Ingram

The Morales family, an early Texas family, dating back in Texas history to before the War Between the States, has a rich heritage and their family members have contributed to the development of Matagorda County. Paz and Juanita Morales lived in Cuero, Dewitt County, Texas, on the banks of the Guadalupe River and after several rises on the river destroyed their livelihood, the family decided to move to Matagorda County in 1934. Their sister, Ann Morales Martinez, was already living in Bay City and it was at her insistence that they made the move. Paz and Juanita Morales had seven children: Caesar, Inosencia, Inez, Pete, Paz Jr., Frank and Cruz. Paz Morales' father, Pete Morales, had come from Spain and his mother, Juanita, grew up in Three Rivers, Live Oak County, Texas.

That same year, 1934, a young man by the name of Raymond Martinez moved to Matagorda County. Born in Mexico on August 31, 1914, he came to Texas with his family in 1917. Raymond had one brother, Reyes, and one sister, Hortencia, now deceased. While in Bay City, Raymond began working at the Bay-Tex Garage where J. W. "Bill" Ingram was manager. Raymond met Inosencia Morales, and they were married in 1938. They  had two children.

While working at the Bay-Tex Garage, Raymond and family began their Mexican restaurant enterprise. Keye Ingram, wife of J. W. Ingram, was planning a Mexican supper for friends, and J. W. Ingram approached Raymond and asked him to suggest someone they might contact to prepare the food. Raymond went home and asked his wife for suggestions; she volunteered to do the cooking. The supper was delicious and a success; requests by friends of the Ingrams and others kept the Hernandez family so busy that in 1944 they decided to open a restaurant in their home by closing in the porch. With the help of Inosencia's parents and her sister, Inez, their Mexican restaurant grew until in 1950, they built a restaurant across the street at the corner of Twelfth Street and Avenue I, naming the restaurant "El Zarape." The business was so successful, they built a beautiful new building a block to the north.

Raymond died on September 27, 1978. The business is still under the ownership and management of the two sisters, Inosencia Hernandez and Inez Garcia, and Inez's husband, Ray Garcia. Their brother, Caesar Morales, has a Mexican restaurant, Casa Morales, and another sister, Cruz, owns Ricardo's. A friendly competition among the family serving the finest of Mexican foods.

Most of the brothers and sisters continue to live in Matagorda County taking part in many community activities. Frank Morales is owner of Wolffarth and Bowman. He and his wife, Elisa, have one son. Pete lives in Milwaukee, and he and his wife, Connie, have four children. Paz lives in Palacios. He and his wife, Andrea, have nine children. Caesar and his wife, Rosie, have four children. Cruz married Richard Bustos, and they have four children. Inez married Ray Garcia in 1953, and they have five children.

The Mexican restaurant has prospered for over forty-three years, thanks to the support of family and friends.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume III, 1988

FIFTY YEARS OF GOOD EATING--Sisters Inosencia Hernandez (left) and Inez Garcia have provided
customers fresh Mexican dishes for 50 years as of Saturday. Hernandez is most comfortable in the
kitchen; Garcia is in her element with the customers. Tribune photo by Michael L. Morgan

Sisters Mark 50 Years of Serving Enchiladas, Beans
By Cindy Breeding

A pair of Bay City sisters have been slaving over a hot stove for about 50 years--and enjoying it.

When Ramon Hernandez praised his wife's cooking at the garage where he worked, his colleagues requested a taste. They sampled Inosencia Hernandez's enchiladas, tamales, rice and beans. And they wanted more. At the bidding of friends and neighbors, Hernandez and her sister, Inez Garcia, got a three-room house. They draped the walls with colored Spanish shawls, and began to sell their fresh Mexican dishes to 24 diners at a time. They named their little house for the shawls--El Zarape.

When Garcia and Hernandez joined forces with their husbands to create the small restaurant, they did not know they would become matriarchs of a three-generation endeavor. They only knew they wanted to serve fresh, spicy food to anyone who wanted it. Saturday marks half of a century of dedication and service for the family.

"In 1951," Hernandez said, "six years after we got the little house, we have to move to a bigger location. We could serve 100 people there."

"We had to add onto it," Garcia added. In 1977, the family owned and operated establishment moved to its present location at 1917 13th St.

Garcia and Hernandez attribute their half-century success to two areas: family and food.

"The whole family has helped with everything," Hernandez said, "It wouldn't be fair to mention just one person." Sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, in-laws and grandparents have worked in almost every capacity with the restaurant, from dish washing to rolling enchiladas. Ray Garcia, Inez's husband, arrives at the restaurant around 5 a. m. every morning to prepare fresh food. Ramon Hernandez, who passed away 15 years ago, contributed countless waking hours to the business as well.

The sisters insists that their fresh food has kept customers returning. The sisters sometimes have a difficult time convincing people that they use no frozen or packaged ingredients.

"The food is prepared as you order it," Garcia said.

They even prepare special requests for diners with specific tastes.

"People have always said that the enchiladas and tamales are their favorites," Garcia said, "We never change those. But if someone wants something that's not on the menu, we say 'what is in it' and make it." Garcia said they have added on their menu. They offer steaks to appease everyone.

It does help that Hernandez, who does a lot of the cooking, is her own best critic.

"I taste all of the food as I make it. You have to," she said. She also said that no measuring of any king takes place in food preparations.

The sisters said they have no intention of retiring.

"I guess I will work as long as I can walk," Hernandez said.

Saturday, the restaurant will show their customers their appreciation for years of devotion. They will have a mariachi band and will offer free cake and punch during their business hours of 11 a. m. to 1:30 p. m. and 5 p. m. to 9 p.m.

Daily Tribune, January, 1994



El Zarape

Thanks Their Customers For 50 Years of Service
In appreciation for your continued patronage El Zarape will be serving a
complimentary margarita with your dinner and will provide mariachi enter-
tainment the evening of SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 1994.
Please join us in celebrating 50 years of service to Bay City and
surrounding communities.

                      With sincere appreciation,

Mrs. Ramon Hernandez & Mr. and Mrs. Ray Garcia

Fifty Years Later, El Zarape's Menu Still Going Strong

Closing in on 50 years of service to Bay City, El Zarape Cafe still relies on fresh home cooking  and old-fashioned personal service.

From sizzling fajitas to hearty tasting homemade tamales, Mexican food just doesn't get any better than that which comes out of El Zarape's kitchen.

The business is family owned and operated by Inosencia Hernandez and Ray and Inez Garcia. Inosencia's late husband, Ramon Hernandez, opened the restaurant January of 1944. Inez's husband, Ray, joined the business in 1953 and later Inosencia's daughter Hortencia Tejeda came on board as bookkeeper.

The business, which is located at 1917 13th Street, has always been in the same general neighborhood, though not in the same building for the 50 years. After opening in the original location in 1944, they moved a block over in 1951 to larger quarters. In 1977 they expanded again and moved into the present location.

The restaurant offers ample amounts of parking and dining space and a banquet room for special occasions makes the business flexible to any customer's needs.

The business prides itself on the freshness and taste of its foods which are all home made, says Inez. "We prepare food daily, so as to be fresh all the time," she adds.

Among the specialties of the house are fajitas, enchiladas, tamales, tacos and refreshing margaritas. Various combination plates are offered on the menu and everyone is sure to find something to their liking.

For those who want something besides Mexican food, a selection of other menu items is also available. Beer, wine and a small variety of mixed drinks are also available. Now they also do a limited amount of catering and they serve daily noon specials.

Hours at El Zarape are Monday through Saturday 11 a. m. to 1:30 p. m. for lunch and 5 p. m. to 9 p. m. for dinner. Drop by today for the finest in Mexican food prepared and served in the richest family tradition.

Daily Tribune, January 28, 1994

Inez and Ray Garcia

Inosencia Hernandez

El Zarape: A family tradition continues
By Jonnie Montalbo

If you ask co-owner and manager Rita Martinez why El Zarape has been open since 1944, she will most likely give you the same answer her four co-owners and siblings offer, customer loyalty, deep-rooted family traditions and genuine family unity.

Those reasons are without a doubt the driving force that keeps the doors of El Zarape open, as they offer first-class service with a smile, welcoming faithful returning customers, as well as attracting new ones, with every plate served.

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant, located at 1917 Thirteenth Street in Bay City, has weathered the storms of financial turbulence, including recessions, declining population and small business pitfalls, to remain a staple in Bay City’s changing landscape.

Off the beaten path, the doors have remained open, despite being located in a residential neighborhood, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown traffic. El Zarape owes its success in part to the word of mouth recommendations of loyal customers who have withstood the test of time and made the restaurant a family tradition, generation after generation.

Since the beginning, when the two sisters decided to become business partners, Inosencia Hernandez and Inez Garcia never lost sight of the bigger picture and the focus on family.

That concept has resonated on through three generations of children and that legacy, started so many years ago, continues to exist within the walls of El Zarape.

Family unity abounds and all agree that allowing Martinez to be the “face” of El Zarape, managing the restaurant full-time, taking care of the day-to-day functions and supervising the quality of service and presentation, is paramount in keeping the balance.

“I think the way we have been able to do this for so long, is that even though we all are owners and we give our individual input from a retail point of view, from a financial standpoint, she is the face, she is the stability that the customer sees everyday,” said co-owner Regina Garcia.

“The unity of our family is another criteria in the success of the restaurant. If Rita tells us to do something when it comes to the restaurant, we do what she says because she’s here everyday and we value her point of view,” said Garcia.

“My mother’s philosophy was that she loved cooking for people. She loved friends and family. She loved making people happy, so when customers came in and if we didn’t have on the menu what they wanted, she would tell them if she had the ingredients, she would make it for them, just tell me what you want. That’s kind of the philosophy Rita has now too,” said co-owner Rosario “Rosie” Rodriguez.

“The hospitality of having a place for people to enjoy bringing their families in, to be able to eat homemade food made fresh daily for them to eat together, that’s what Rita makes sure of,” said Rodriguez.

“We’ve added a few new menu items, but as far as the Mexican food menu, we have stayed with the same recipes, same menu items, all the Tex-Mex stuff, just adding a few newer things to keep up with current trends and so we have shrimp tacos, chicken crispers salad, mahi and fish tacos, the variety of things people enjoy now. We had some customers asking for salads, so now we have several salads on the menu,” said Rodriguez.

Venturing towards catering for local businesses and events, Martinez oversees servers and does an excellent job of multitasking, as she manages the restaurant and also goes out with the catering staff to ensure quality in and out of the restaurant.

As a family restaurant, catering to the customers and keeping them priority has also resulted in giving back to the community, establishing a scholarship fund in memory of their parents, Ray and Inez Garcia.

“They were second-grade educated people and they instilled in us, early on as children, they were all about education and although they worked very hard for everything they had, they made sure that we passed on the importance of education to our children as well,” said Rodriguez.

As one of the oldest established Mexican restaurants in Bay City, El Zarape not only stands out as a perfect example of what can be accomplished by keeping core values and traditional family unity on the forefront, but also exemplifies the importance of customer service in order to become successful in today’s economic outlook.

Bay City Tribune, July 10, 2013

Inosencia M. Hernandez
(December 28, 1920 - November 23, 2012)

Inosencia M. Hernandez, age 92, entered eternal rest on November 23, 2012 in Bay City, Texas. She was born December 28, 1920 in Cuero, Texas. Preceded in death by parents, Paz and Juanita Morales, husband Ramon Hernandez, Sr., son Ramon Hernandez, Jr., siblings, Cruz Bustos, Inez Garcia, Frank Morales and Caesar Morales. In 1944 she and her husband opened El Zarape Café in Bay City, along with her parents, Paz and Juanita Morales. 1954, she later joined in partnership with her sister Inez and husband, Ray Garcia. Survived by daughters Hortencia (Louis) Tejeda, Mary (AB) Trevino, sister, Janie (David) Amador, brother, Pete (Connie) Morales, Paz (Andrea) Morales. grandchildren, Ramon Hernandez III, Marina (Camilo) Reyes and Priscilla (Brad) Jex. Great grandchildren, Meghan, Morghan and Madaline Jex. Natalie and Ramon Herandez IV and great great grandson, Ramon Hernandez V.

A Rosary and Mass will be held at 1:30 PM Monday, November 26th, 2012 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Bay City. Father Gerald Cernoch will officiate. Burial will follow at Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 1412 12th St., Bay City, TX 77414.

Published in the Victoria Advocate on November 25, 2012

Raymon Solis Hernandez, Sr.

Raymon Solis Hernandez, Sr., 64, of 1605 Ave I, died Wednesday, September 27, at Matagorda General Hospital. He was born August 31, 1914 in Mexico. The deceased was a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, a Bay City resident since 1926 and was owner manager of the El Zarape Restaurant. Survivors include his wife, Ginger Hernandez, daughters, Hortencia Tejeda and Mary Ester Trevino, both of Bay City, a son, Ramon S. Hernandez, Jr. of Bay City, a brother, Reyes Hernandez of Bay City, two granddaughters and one grandson. Services will be held Thursday, September 28 at 4:00 p. m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, Father J. P. Shannon officiating. Interment at Cedarvale Cemetery. Rosary will be said tonight, Wednesday, at 8:10 p. m. from the Taylor Brothers Chapel . Arrangements under the direction of Taylor Brothers Funeral Home.

Daily Tribune, September 27, 1978

Juanita R. Morales

Mrs. Juanita R. Morales, 79, of Bay City, died at Matagorda General Hospital on January 27. Survivors include: daughters, Mrs. Ginger Hernandez, Mrs. Inez Garcia, Mrs. Cruz Bustos of Bay City and Mrs. Janie Amador of Wharton; sons, Pete of Milwaukee, Ray of Palacios, Frank and Caesar of Bay City; sisters, Josephine Flores, Mrs. Catarine Longoria, Mrs. Tommy Reyna of Bay City, Mrs. Laroria Medina and Mrs. Christina Mendez of Houston, 35 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. The funeral will be held Monday, January 28 at 3:00 p. m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The Rev. J. P. Shannon will officiate and interment will follow at Cedarvale Cemetery. Rosary was recited at 7:30 p. m. on Sunday at Taylor Brothers Funeral Home. Pallbearers include: Richard Bustos, Jr., Ray Garcia, Frank Morales, Jr., Raymond Hernandez, Jr. and Rolando Rodriguez. Honorary pallbearers include: David Amador, Jr., Dan Morales, Raymundo Hernandez, HI and Ceasar Morales, Jr. Arrangements made with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home.

Daily Tribune, January 28, 1980

Inez Morales Garcia
January 29, 1922 - June 24, 2005

Inez Morales Garcia, born to Paz and Juanita Morales on January 29, 1922, in Cuero, Texas, passed away on June 24, 2005

She was preceded in death by: her husband, Reynaldo Garcia, Sr.; her parents; brother, Caesar Morales; and sister, Cruz Bustos.

She was a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Inez wanted nothing more than to be surrounded by her loving family and close friends to whom she was completely devoted.

She brought joy to many, not only with her love of family and friends, but also with her passion for cooking and hospitality.

She realized that joy as well, in working along side her sister, Ginger Hernandez, as co-owners of the El Zarape Cafe in Bay City, Texas for over 60 years.

She will be greatly missed by all those she touched.

She is survived by: her children, Mundy Garcia of Bay City, Ray Garcia, Jr. and wife Lisa of Houston, Rosario Rodriguez and husband, Rolando Rodriguez, Sr. of Bay City, Regina Garcia of The Woodlands, and Rita Martinez and husband Rodolfo Martinez of Bay City; 10 grandchildren, Roland Rodriguez, Jr., Robert Rodriguez, Erica, Michael and Matthew Martinez, Garrett, Cody and Mindy Garcia, all of Bay City, and Ray and Lauren Garcia of Houston; brothers, Pete Morales and wife Connie, Frank Morales and wife Elisa, Paz Morales and wife Andrea; sisters, Inosensia Ginger Hernandez and Janie Amador and husband David Amador.

A rosary was recited at 7 p. m. Sunday, June 26, 2005 at the Taylor Bros. Funeral Home Chapel.

The funeral mass was held at 2 p. m. Monday, June 27, 2005, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, with the Rev. Gerry Cernoch and the Rev. Dan Morales officiating.

Burial followed at Roselawn Memorial Park in Van Vleck, Texas.

Her grandsons had the honor of serving as pallbearers.

Arrangements with Taylor Bros. Funeral Home in Bay City.

Bay City Tribune, June 29, 2005

Reynaldo “Ray” Garcia, 80, of Bay City, passed away Friday, June 21, 2002. He was born October 25, 1921 in Cuero, Texas to Jose Garcia and Tomasa Garza Garcia. He was a member of our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, a resident of Bay City since 1950, and was a US Air Force veteran of World War II. He was an electrician and had worked with Wolffarth and Bowman, Inc. and was a co-owner of El Zarape Café of Bay City. He was a member of VFW Post #2438 of Bay City, a member of the Knights of Columbus, a former Usher and Parish Council-member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and a member of G.I. Forum.

He is survived by: wife, Inez Morales Garcia of Bay City; daughters, Rosario Rodgriguez and husband Rolondo of Bay City, Regina Garcia of Sugarland, and Rita Martinez and husband Rodolfo of Bay City; sons, Ray Garcia, Jr., and wife Lisa of Houston, and Mundy Garcia of Bay City; nephew, Louis Tejeda of Bay City; brother, Prexie Garcia of Bay City; and by 10 grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Jose and Tomasa Garcia; and by his brother, Joe Garcia, Jr.

The Rosary was recited at 7 p.m. Friday, June 21, 2002 at Taylor Bros. Funeral Chapel.

The funeral mass was held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 2002 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. His nephew, the Rev. Dan Morales officiated. Interment was at Roselawn Memorial Park in Van Vleck.

Pallbearers were Andy Garza, Frankie Morales, Jr., Marion Garcia, Prexie Garcia, Jr., Steven Garcia and Israel Garcia.

Arrangements are with Taylor Bros. Funeral Home. A00014B2002JN23

The Bay City Tribune, Sunday, June 23, 2002


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