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Mangy Moose Caf
Where everybody knows your name
Mangy Moose Caf owner Oscar Quiroz and daughter Sandra welcome customers with identical toothy smiles. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

209 INFO

• PLACE: Mangy Moose Cafe
• LOCATION: 506 E Yosemite Ave., Manteca, CA 95336
• HOURS OF OPERATION: Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. - 12 p.m.
• INFORMATION: (209) 239-1958

There’s nothing mangy about the Mangy Moose Café in Manteca.

That’s the very first thing that strikes you when you come in either from the Yosemite Avenue entrance, or from the back door if you prefer to come in from the parking lot in the back. You notice that difference right away once you hear the hearty laughter from owner Oscar Quiroz, or the friendly giggles from his daughter Sandra. Further dispelling the mangy-ness of the place are the friendly chatters from Sandra’s sister, Gabi, and the rest of the equally amiable workers that include cook Evelyn Arroyo who is fondly referred to as “Mom” by both staff and loyal customers, and quick-to-please Aaron Botelho.

A visit to the small and cozy café – a long and narrow dining destination sandwiched between Sadie’s Beauty Salon and a bridal shoppe – is like going over to Mom or Grandma’s kitchen where everybody knows your name and where you are always greeted by smiles and a warm hello by Quiroz and his family of workers.  It could be due partially due to the fact it seats only about two dozen people.

The small but cozy setting also contributes to the homey atmosphere. While exchanging banters with Quiroz and the others, you can actually watch as Mom Evelyn, Quiroz or Botelho prepares the food in restaurant cooking range right in front of you.

If you don’t feel like batting the breeze as your stomach growls at the smell of the pervading home cooking that suffuses your senses, you can peruse the entertaining pieces of country wisdom that are part of Quiroz’s personal collection. They are all over the walls – right above the workers’ food-preparation counter area, behind the seating area, on the stove hood where old carpenter’s tools hang, and by the cash register at the front door. Or, you can watch as Quiroz makes a new batch of salsa from scratch using fresh tomatoes, onions, and other ingredients.

“Do you want to talk to the man in charge, or to the woman who knows what’s going on?” reads one tongue-in-cheek wooden décor. “Coffee-Chocolate-Men – Some things are better than rich!” reads another. Still another reads: “ATTENTION! Young Adults and Teenagers. If you’re tired of being hassled by unreasonable parents… Now is the time for Action!!! Move out and pay your own way while you still own everything.”

In the dining area in the back that was recently renovated, the décor on the walls are framed pages from the definitive history book about Manteca. The pages include photographs of the old Manteca High School bell tower, the century-old Manteca Winery, and other early scenes of downtown Manteca. Above, on the walls, are various vintage items from Quiroz’s personal collection. Some have been given to him by friends, like the tin container with the words “SCARLATA Puro California Olio d’Oliv” and a picture of a small olive branch with ripe olives. Quiroz said he was told this was a Manteca product that contained oil.

The main bill of fare at Mangy Moose Home-style Cooking is breakfast – from the Mangy Moose specialty breakfast list to the Moose omelets – but you can also order such scrumptious lunch items such as the Moose sandwiches served with fries and the mouth-melting half-pound Big Moose burger.

The café is open only for breakfast and lunch – from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, and 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

Quiroz and his family are the third owners of Mangy Moose Café. He and his daughter Sandra, who just received her AS degree in Baking and Pastry from Delta College, and daughter, Gabi, who also works at the café when she’s not at her regular full-time job as a pharmacy technician for Walgreens in  Stockton, have been operating the restaurant for the last eight years.

Both girls practically grew up working at the restaurant. That’s how Quiroz raised them as a single parent. The girls are his children from his first marriage. It was because of them that he gave up his auto-body business – beside the fact he was “burned out – and decided to go into the restaurant business.

“We had a choice,” he said about what business was a better arrangement for his family. “I had kids to raise,” he simply explained. He realized quite clearly that the body shop was not for them because her daughters would not be able to work in that type of business. But they could do some work and help at the restaurant, he said.

The only member of the family who does not work at the café is Quiroz’s wife, Lorena, is a supervisor in the records department at the Stockton Police Department. “But she supports me,” Quiroz said.

“I enjoy cooking. And I’m a people person,” smiled Quiroz, explaining why he loves working at his restaurant.

“It’s been a blessing to meet people in Manteca. Best people I ever met,” he said.

One of the best things about owning the restaurant is having the opportunity to work together as a family, Quiroz said.

“She’s her own boss,” he said of daughter Sandra who works there full-time.

“Sometimes I’m his boss,” she quipped, followed by her signature giggle.

“She and her sister don’t have any problem at all working with their father,” she added.

“It’s great. I have a great time with him. He’s my (business) partner. We get along well together. I work harder because he’s my dad,” said Sandra who, along with her sister, still lives at home with their parents.

Mangy Moose has several claims to fame. It’s been featured on a number of television programs in the past years. The latest was on Memorial Day when it was featured live on Good Day Sacramento.

Mangy Moose is located at 506 E. Yosemite Avenue (the building is right next to Manteca High School). For more information, call 239-1958.


209 staff reporter