Juan Manuel Alcantar, familiar to us as Blackie, first came to Guaymas and San Carlos in 1954 for a vacation. Like many of us, he never left … well, at least not for long.
Originally from Manzanillo, Colima, his first visit was to see his Uncle who lived in Guaymas. During his stay, his Uncle offered him a job in his custom brokerage company. During this time in Sonoran history, cotton was grown in Obregon and his Uncle’s company exported the cotton to Japan and Germany. Blackie could see the opportunity and he took it. Two years later, opportunity knocked again when he was to meet his future wife, Maria del Carmen.
Blackie is a very determined man with a strong work ethic and this ambition led him to various job opportunities during his career. In 1959 when the cotton industry in Sonora declined, Blackie took a job as a waiter and cashier for the Miramar Hotel, which was under the administration of the Inigo Family. This hotel no longer exists but, it was located next to the infamous La Playa de Cortez Hotel in Guaymas.
Over the next ten years, he worked his way up the ladder to Assistant Manager and when he could see no way to rise to the top position, his ambition urged him onward.
Between 1969 and 1972, Blackie took jobs in Obregon and La Paz, always increasing his knowledge with each new challenge. In 1972, he received a call from David and Terry Perez, builders of La Posada Triana Hotel, which is now known as The Hotel Fiesta. After managing this hotel for two years, he went to work as the manager of the La Posada Hotel, the first hotel in San Carlos.
Blackie remained here for six years and he says that during this era in San Carlos, La Posada was the “center of everything.” It was usual to serve 200 dinners each night in an atmosphere where men wore suits and women wore long dresses! Que fantastico, no?
When Blackie received an offer from the new owners of La Posada Triana, he knew he could not refuse. It was at this point that the hotel was renamed The Hotel Fiesta. This would put to use all of his knowledge and expertise he had acquired through his various positions and hard work.
For the next 22 years, Blackie managed this hotel until it was re-sold in 2004. Opportunity knocked yet again when the owners of the Terraza Restaurant (Ricardo’s Bar) offered him a lease on their restaurant. He operated this establishment from 1994 through 1999. The Terraza offered dining and dancing and they were full with locals until 2:00am every single night!
In 1987, Blackie purchased the lot that would eventually be the site for his own restaurant. In 1993, construction began with one brick layer and his assistant. The restaurant started out as a Palapa, but he decided that this was not the ambience he wanted and began to add walls. He would visit the site each day and would remove walls that he ordered built the day before and new ones added in another location. Over the next five years, the lovely creation that we all enjoy was formed. On January 8, 1998, Blackie’s Restaurant officially opened. His wife, Maria del Carmen, is responsible for the eclectic art work and other wonderful adornments.
Blackie says that he could not have accomplished his many endeavors without the support of his wife and children whom include Carmen, Catalina, Juan Manuel (dec.), Cecilia, Pilar, Francisco, Sara, and Abraham.
Blackie’s vision was to create a restaurant with international cuisine, drinks, piano music, and excellent service. Today, residents and visitors are pleased to share in his vision and this classic and classy establishment are a real treasure in our community.
by Janey Mclean