Kevin Johnson is the general manager of Mankas Tapas Bar & Steakhouse that is getting ready to open at Mankas Corner in the Suisun Valley. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Kevin Johnson is the general manager of Mankas Tapas Bar & Steakhouse that is getting ready to open at Mankas Corner in the Suisun Valley. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)


Mankas Corner gets new restaurant

By From page B7 | February 04, 2012

MANKAS CORNER — It’s been a busy month at rural Mankas Corner in Suisun Valley as workers ready the Mankas Tapas & Steakhouse for its opening Saturday.

“We wanted something Fairfield has not had yet, a higher-end restaurant and steakhouse,” building owner Frank Vezer said as he sat at a table inside the new venture, wine glass in hand.

He described the restaurant as a combination of the Rutherford Grill, Cole’s Chop House and Hurley’s in the Napa Valley.

“It’s not going to be pretentious,” Vezer said. “It’s wine country attire. Sports coats are nice, but they’re not required.”

The space before January was occupied by Vintage Caffe at Mankas Corner. The Vezer family leased the space to that restaurant. When Vintage Caffe closed, the Vezers didn’t want to leave the building empty.

“We wanted to take it in the direction and vision we have,” Vezer said.

And Mankas Tapas & Steakhouse was born. It will have a different look than its predecessor, with such touches as Madagascar wood, slate autumn rose stone and black walnut trim.

Frank Vezer’s wife, Liz Vezer, did the interior decorating, with Castle Rock Construction of Suisun City overseeing the renovations and other local contractors contributing. Frank Vezer said the remodeling will cost about $350,000.

Kevin Johnson is putting together the restaurant operations. Johnson in November 2011 left his post with the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield, where he served as general manager since the hotel opened in 2002.

Johnson said in November that he needed to do something different, though at the time he had no plans. Something different turned out to be working on the Mankas Tapas & Steakhouse venture.

He’s wanted to put together a steakhouse for 30 years, Johnson said.

“I decided it’s now or never,” he said. “I finally had the opportunity and time to make it happen.”

The chef is David Pajarillo, who previously worked at Aqua in Las Vegas and Four Seasons in San Francisco.

Solano County’s General Plan calls for making Suisun Valley an attraction for tourists who will go there to visit wineries and produce stands. Among the strategies is to have certain hubs with restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and other ventures, with Mankas Corner one of the hubs.

The Vezers own several buildings at Mankas Corner. They have a gift shop and deli at the old Pony Express stop, along with wine tasting. Frank Vezer said a goal has been to preserve and enhance the history of Mankas Corner.

He talks enthusiastically about Suisun Valley, which he called “one of the last gems of California.”

The Vezers bought their Suisun Valley ranch in 2000. They run the Vezer Family Vineyard and Blue Victorian winery. A walk of about five miles — one Frank and Liz Vezer will take on a sunny morning — takes them from their ranch home to their various Suisun Valley business ventures.

The Mankas Tapas & Steakhouse adds one more place for them to stop as they make their rounds.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or [email protected]

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 21 comments

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 05, 2012 - 8:48 am

    Wow, that is ambitious comparing this to those fine and well-established restaurants. Looking forward to the experience!

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:03 am

    Interesting that the Chef at this steakhouse worked at Aqua, one of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Hopefully he brings some of that experience to the kitchen. Fairfield has had other fine dining restaurants. Unfortunately, the demographics don't support fine dining over the long term. They do well for a while, but once folks get bored with it, they had back to Napa Valley or the City. Hopefully they can break that trend.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:10 am

    Mr. Practical, I agree but I was wondering if that might not be the perfect spot for such a place? Cozy little out of the way area in the country, might be a good draw.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:24 am

    Vintage Caffe wasn't bad when Gigi had it. We'll see if they can do a better job getting people out there. If he's going to compare the steakhouse to Cole's he better buy outstanding quality dry-aged beef. And if he does, be prepared to pay $45 for that 16 ounce Ribeye. Ala carte! Here's where Cole's, Mortons and some of the other great steakhouses buy their beef... http://www.allenbrothers.com/

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  • claudia galvanFebruary 06, 2012 - 6:37 pm

    Suisun needs this restaurant! I was fortunate to attend the pre-opening and this is a reallllly welcome, modern addition to the area. It's a well-designed space with solid, great food and local wines, where you and the in-laws can be comfy at a table in the back or you can have a relaxed dinner with friends at the bar.

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  • S KFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:23 am

    Sounds good, may have to try it. But for me, for a GREAT STEAK, or my favorite PRIME RIB, I personally LOVE Texas Roadhouse. Still need to figure out when to use the Roadhouse gift card my Wife gave me at Christmas. I just wish they served my absolute FAVORITE red meat at the Roadhouse, those nice big THICK Lamb chops, that you can get at Cattlemen's, or at Sam'sClub.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:30 am

    SK, I tried Texas Roadhouse once and personally would never go back. I'm not a fan of the fake, themed chains. Had their ribs and they were so over-cooked that the texture of the meat turned to mush.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:46 am

    Mr. Practical, I have to agree with SK. The Roadhouse has consistently been one of the best steaks I’ve had. My wife loves the ribs, always tender, alwasy good. I may not be a connoisseur of fine foods, but I know what I like. I have eaten steak many places and TR is pretty darned good. Sure, Ruth's Chris in SF was probably the best meal I've ever had in my life but it also cost me $250.

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  • Danny BuntinFebruary 05, 2012 - 10:20 pm

    The ribs at roadhouse are over sauced imo. The steaks are hit and miss. I have had really good steaks and really bad ones at roadhouse. For the price, RH is not bad considering to move up a level costs three fold more.

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  • just meFebruary 12, 2012 - 6:49 pm

    A good prime rib is always good, but a good rib eye is what I look for. :)

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  • Jason KnowlesFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:27 am

    Can't beat The Buckhorn in Winters for any and all meat. The only place I know where I can get venison. What I like is this place does tapas, too. Outside of San Francisco, there are no really good tapas places around here.

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:32 am

    Jason, Zuzu in Napa is good. http://zuzunapa.com/

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  • Jason KnowlesFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:38 am

    Wow! Thanks, MP!

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 05, 2012 - 12:20 pm

    Jason, the Uptown Theater is about 3 blocks away. Zuzu and a show is a great night out. They have great acts there if you like old rock & rollers! http://theatrenapa.com/?gclid=COmr_LPUh64CFWQ0Qgodth3j4A

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  • BeyourselfFebruary 05, 2012 - 11:36 am

    Wish Solano people could stop comparing to Napa. Solano is a unique and special place of it's own.

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  • GMLGrahamFebruary 05, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    Krystyna & I enjoyed having lunch @ Vintage Cafe on weekends, hope they'll still be open for lunch and will offering some of the same meals.

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  • Give me a breakFebruary 05, 2012 - 8:26 pm

    Yes they were forced to leave, no one could afford the rent they asked. They were forced out....the new place will do well for about 6 months, we need good food but less expensive. Forced out.......

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  • DebraLeeFebruary 07, 2012 - 1:33 pm

    I welcome the new! They do have quality dry aged steaks On their menu and also a grassfed version which I am personally Excited about! Veser needed an upscale restaurant to go with their Superior wines! They offer lunch too and yes you get what you Pay for. I myself have high hopes for the success of this place. They have also employed previous kitchen and serving staff From V-cafe which I very much respect!

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  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 19, 2012 - 12:17 pm

    They already fired Johnson as General Manager. Didn't take them long to figure him out.

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  • GmlgrahamFebruary 20, 2012 - 1:44 pm

    Krysia & I went to Mankas for lunch..sorry, because of our pocket books we both agreed the menu, prices, amount of food from Vintage Cafe were mucho better!! IF we go back to the area, we'll eat next door @ the Deli. The teeny weeny glass of Vezer Black Muscat was yummy ♥, but $$. ☺

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  • Mankas Corner gets new restaurant | Castle Rock ConstructionSeptember 10, 2013 - 9:44 am

    […] Read more… […]

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