¡Manolo! :A Neighborhood Institution;
Rincon Español Renews its Dining Room & Chef
He immigrated to this country on January 1, 1974 with, “17 dollars in quarters rolled up in my socks”, as he says and has become one of the most recognized and successful figures on Columbia Road, cherished by a great majority of the region’s Latino business community members.
The ‘Gallego’ (native of the Galician region of Spain) Solloso has been, “since “the 17th of November of 1977”, owner of Rincón Español Restaurant in the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Jovial, boisterous and excitable, ‘Don Manolo’ has not only amassed a fortune on the streets of what is still this area’s pre-eminent Latino neighborhood, but has helped hundreds of Latino families, above all Salvadorans obtain their residency, fulfill their desire for a better life and achieve the American dream. Famous for his generosity and trust (and his temper), many a time has he been burned, unpaid and without recourse. Nevertheless, he’s still there at 1826 Columbia Road 7 days a week promoting a new and remodeled restaurant with a flamboyant and renowned chef, Jose Flores, who counts Divino Restaurant and the most prestigious Spanish restaurant in the Area ‘Taberna del Alabardero’, on his resume.
“Without Mr. Manolo’s support I would not have been able to open my business” says successful Salvadoran businesswoman Josefina Ayala. “He trusted in me and gave me the opportunity and the credit I needed to begin”. Like her, there are numerous cases in which Solloso has offered start up business owners the opportunity to achieve success in their small business. “A dollar invested is a dollar with rich rewards”, according to the businessman who at 72 years of age still extends credit and loans on a hand shake. Manolo has been married for close to 20 years to MariLu, a Salvadoran woman who works at the restaurant and has given him 3 more children. Manolo has fathered 9 offspring from 3 different marriages, “and I’ve given them all –and continue to give them to this day- a solid upbringing”.
The renovation of Rincón Español responds to a new era in the development of the iconic Road with the Latino accent. Across the street from his establishment is the new ‘Mintwood’ Restaurant, all the rage among culinary aficionados right now. The old restaurateur faces a new environment with new challenges he’s never confronted before, “Columbia Road isn’t what it used to be”, he insists, “In Adams Morgan the crazy times are over”.
And that’s why with all his years of experience on his back, Manolo has teamed up with Chef Jose Flores, from El Salvador but with vast experience in Spanish cooking, to offer a “modern and authentic” cuisine with recipes such as ‘Black Rice’ (seafood rice served in squid ink sauce), Fideuá (a noodle paella) and ‘Duck in Plum Sauce’, among others, dishes that have never been served in this popular neighborhood restaurant. According to Flores, “with this new concept we’re developing we hope to make Rincon one of the best restaurants in town”.
The project still is an unfinished experiment, but it has piqued the interest of those in the Latino food sector and curiosity among the clientele over the new offerings. “The customers at our place are changing” says the charismatic maitre d’, Rodolfo Echeverria, who welcomes diners on weekends, “and Manuel is determined to improve the eating experience.” No question that another of the attributes of this symbol of our progress is determination and courage. Manuel Solloso is among the best of our community.