A winning recipe for success

Sep 7, 2023 | Business, Running Springs

The Tapia family opened Tapia’s Red Cabin in Running Springs nearly a year ago. Pictured are Crystal, left, Candalario and Maria.

Story and Photos

By Cat Robertson

Staff Writer


Maria Tapia is a remarkable woman. She has an amazing amount of faith in God, which is evident in many aspects of her life. It was her great faith that led her family to open Tapia’s Red Cabin in downtown Running Springs.

Maria and her husband, Candalario, were looking for a business to open and, after searching for a while, they decided to open up a restaurant where the Red Dragon once was.

Maria said she and Candalario weren’t planning to open up shop in Running Springs; she thought they would end up closer to home in Beaumont. But, as she searched for a business, the listing for the Running Springs property kept popping up. She dismissed it because the asking price was too high, but she and Candalario eventually went to look at the property. They weren’t sure it was the one for them, but they prayed about it and felt led by God to buy the property.

After purchasing the restaurant in June 2022, they ran into several hurdles before they could open up. For months, their faith was tried as they ran into issues that delayed the grand opening. Candalario and Maria had quit their jobs to open the restaurant, had no income and the expenses kept piling up as the health inspector found things that needed to be changed.

“Our faith was tested for four months,” Maria said. “But I knew I had a word from God, and I knew God would provide.”

And that’s exactly what He did. They trusted God to get them through and they eventually opened on Sept. 30, 2022.

“For the first two months it was crazy busy,” Maria noted.

It was so busy at first, they could barely catch their breath. Things evened out after that and business has become more steady throughout the day. Maria said business is more spread out and that customers comment that they like to have a quiet place where they can go to a corner of the restaurant and work on their computer.

“Even on slow days, I don’t mind because God provides,” Maria said.

With a combined 78 years of experience in the restaurant business, the Tapia family sure knows their way around not only the kitchen, but the entire restaurant. Candalario has been in the business for 35 years. He started as a bus boy when he was 16 years old and worked his way up to restaurant owner. He and Maria owned a restaurant in San Bernardino, which gave the family valuable experience.

Maria has 20 years of experience, and knows her way around the restaurant business. After all, she had one named after her. She has a background in the real estate business and did that for a few years while she and Candalario ran Maria’s Kitchen in San Bernardino. They had that restaurant for nine years, closing it when business declined after the city of San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The Tapias’ daughter, Crystal Rodriguez, has 15 years of experience that includes waitressing and bartending, and 23-year-old son Eric Tapia has eight years of experience. He currently cooks with his dad on Saturdays.

“Eric likes to cook. He’s been watching his dad since he was little,” Maria said. “And Crystal was a bartender for 10 years. She worked at Buffalo Wild Wings and also at Mountain Lakes Resort in Lytle Creek.”

Crystal has been putting her skills to work as they recently started selling beer and wine. She has been mixing up delicious drinks that are very popular. The strawberry and pineapple mimosas are a hit. And then there’s the Michelada. The customer chooses a beer and it is added to the Tapias’ own special clamato mixture and then garnished with cucumber, lemon and lime. It’s topped with a special treat – a Mexican candy called Tamarindo. The rim of the glass is dipped in crushed Tamarindo, and the customers are loving it.

Crystal uses a Japanese wine called Suji in the margaritas and pina coladas, and some say they taste just like the originals.

Each of the family members brings something different to the table, and it’s a winning recipe for success. Candalario is very creative in the kitchen where he takes ordinary recipes and throws his own spin on them to create a flavorful menu, and the customers are very happy.

“He does American and Mexican food very well,” Maria said.

At Tapia’s Red Cabin, the customer’s voice is heard. Mexican food was added to the menu after several customers requested it. And Candalario’s hot sauce is a big hit.

John Willoughby and Laura Hatzer enjoyed a meal at Tapia’s Red Cabin.

John Willoughby and Laura Hatzer enjoyed a meal at Tapia’s Red Cabin.

“One of our customers told me she loved the hot sauce and that we should sell it. She said, ‘You should sell the hot sauce and I want to be your first customer.’ And she bought the first container of hot sauce. She went to a party and everyone loved the hot sauce. They asked if she had made it and she told them no and said that she got it here. After that, people kept coming in asking if they could buy some hot sauce, and then more and more people came in asking for it. So, now we sell it.”

The Spicy Skillet and Superstar Skillet are the most popular dishes for breakfast. The Gourmet Burger, Western Burger and Cabin’s Burger are the customers’ favorite burgers.

Tapia’s Red Cabin has had some great reviews on Yelp. Several people commented how good the service was and how much they liked the food.

Maria said the community was very supportive during Snowmageddon. “When we had the disaster with the snow, I had so much support. I was open the whole time. My car was buried in 10 feet of snow. We walked here at 5:30 a.m. in a blizzard and we walked home at 8 p.m.

“It was as if the highway never closed,” she said. “And we never ran out of food.”

Tapia’s Red Cabin is located at 31956 Hilltop Boulevard, Running Springs. They are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, closed on Sunday. Call them at (909) 939-0959.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


groundwerks quarter page ad page 0001
rim bowling center generic 7 11 22 web
audio in english
audio en español

10 things you should know about living wills

When considering estate planning, you've probably heard about "last will and testament" and "living will." These are important in estate planning but have different roles. Knowing about living wills is crucial for a well-rounded estate plan that reflects your wishes...

Lake Arrowhead Home Tour promotes ‘Living at the Lake’

Lake Arrowhead Home Tour promotes ‘Living at the Lake’

By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY Senior Writer   Last weekend’s 48th annual Lake Arrowhead Home Tour, with its theme of “Living at the Lake,” lured some 600 Southland residents to the lake’s legendary North Shore Estates to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live at the lake....

Construction begins on Goodwin’s new roof

Construction begins on Goodwin’s new roof

By Mike Harris Special to the Alpine Mountaineer   The demolition work is done, and now workers are pouring truckloads of concrete into deep, wide footings to support the new, stronger roof for the remodeled Goodwin and Son’s Market in Crestline. Heavier, taller...