Third and Current Location 1977 - 1917 12th
First El Zarape Location 1944 - 1951
Second Location 1951-1977
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,
YEARS OF GOOD EATING--Sisters Inosencia
Hernandez (left) and Inez Garcia have
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.
Sisters Mark 50 Years of Serving Enchiladas,
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
"The food is prepared as you order it," Garcia
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
"I guess I will work as long as I can walk,"
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
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,
Please join us in celebrating 50 years of service to Bay
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
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
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
El Zarape: A family
By Jonnie Montalbo
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
population and small
business pitfalls, to remain
a staple in Bay City’s
Off the beaten path, the
doors have remained open,
despite being located in a
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
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,”
“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,”
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
“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,”
As one of the oldest
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
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
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
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
Inez wanted nothing more than to be surrounded by
her loving family and close friends to whom she was completely
She brought joy to many, not only with her love
of family and friends, but also with her passion for cooking and
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
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
Her grandsons had the honor of serving as
Arrangements with Taylor Bros. Funeral Home in
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