Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce honors Rosa’s restaurant founders

Bill and Ada MacMillan
Bill and Ada MacMillan

In a heartfelt tribute, the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce on Thursday honored the late Bill and Ada “Rosa” MacMillan, who opened Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano in Pismo Beach in 1988.

Their son Doug MacMillan and daughter Helen Kunkel were present to accept the chamber’s Citizen of the Year award on their parents’ behalf.

“This is a huge honor,” said Doug MacMillan, adding that his parents instilled in him a sense of community. “They were the real deal, both of them. I’m so proud to be their kid.”

Bill and Ada MacMillan met in Boston and married in 1966, according to an obituary published after Bill’s death in September. They opened their first Italian restaurant in Visalia, adding another Rosa’s in Bakersfield in 1972.

Ada MacMillan, whom  many customers knew as “Rosa,” died in 2006.

“Bill and Rosa created a place in Pismo Beach that tourists and locals alike celebrated,” said Arlene Gonzales-Gee, the chamber’s chief ambassador. “They created memories. They truly were the type of people who gave back to their community.”

Kevin Drabinski, senior field representative for Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, and county Supervisor Adam Hill also honored the couple.

“I have been the recipient on numerous occasions of the gracious hospitality of all the good folks at Rosa’s,” Drabinski said. “That MacMillan charisma permeates the welcome, and the service, and of course the food, for a dining experience which feeds both body and soul.”

He added: “In fact, I may take a leap for a moment to suggest that memorable meals at Rosa’s may be to blame, in part, for the traffic we all experience at 5 o’clock on the southbound lanes of the 101 through Pismo Beach.”

The chamber handed out several other awards, including the president’s award, which went to the city of Pismo Beach. Three businesses were honored for beautification efforts, including the Shell Beach Brewhouse; Tierra de Paraiso, luxury condos in downtown Pismo Beach; and Valentina Suites, at Pismo Avenue and Price Street.

Rick Turton was named director of the year; Anita Shower received the ambassador of the year award; and Robert Robert was honored as volunteer of the year. The business of the year award went to California Fresh Market (previously known as El Rancho Marketplace), which opened in November 2012.