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August 7, 2020

Cilantro’s gives back to community

WATSONVILLE—Cilantro’s Parrilla Y Cantina recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and the Mexican restaurant is not slowing down even with shelter-in-place orders in effect.

The business remains open seven days a week, albeit with a limited staff, and is still offering takeout orders of about 90 percent of its original menu.

“We’re not doing things much differently,” said Amanda Rivas, one of the restaurant’s managers. “Thankfully we’ve always been a take out spot so it hasn’t been too hard to adjust.”

Cilantro’s has introduced special Family Packages, which include food and drink items, as well as discounts on bottles of wine. Happy Hour specials are offered Monday through Friday, 3-5 p.m. on select items. Discounts are available for healthcare, grocery store and restaurant industry workers.

“We are staying open to try and bring some normality into people’s lives, and I think people appreciate that,” Rivas said.

Cilantro’s has also been giving back to the community, donating meals to local organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank, which has used them for its recurring food distributions, as well as to the Santa Cruz Regional 911 dispatch center and other essential businesses. Last week, a donation organized by Barbie Gomez was used to send meals to 40 employees at nearby Nob Hill Foods.

“It is so important to us to give back to the community,” Rivas said. “Without them and their support, we wouldn’t be here.”

The restaurant recently signed up to participate in COVID-Meals, an online platform started in the Bay Area that allows individuals and groups to sponsor meals to be delivered to hospitals and clinics.

COVID-Meals are being sent to various local facilities such as Salad Para La Gente, Watsonville Community Hospital, Dominican Hospital, Driftwood Health Care Center and more. A number of other restaurants, including Ella’s at the Airport and Wooden Nickel in Watsonville, are participating.

“[COVID Meals] is a great way to support local restaurants while also thanking frontline workers,” Rivas said.

The restaurant has had to implement new precautions for serving its food, including a curbside pickup system. In accordance with new county health guidelines, they require all employees and all customers who pick up food to be wearing face coverings.

“We appreciate everyone’s support during these times,” Rivas said. “It’s so nice to see a lot of our regulars checking in on how we’re doing… It makes a big difference in our day… We want them to know that.”

To order from Cilantro’s visit or call 761-2161. To sign up to sponsor meals visit

Johanna Miller
Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.


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