The Black family has owned hotels in Paso Robles long before the city became a major tourist attraction.
Now, decades later, the family has helped transform the North County city into a thriving wine country destination.
Matt Masia, who oversees the family’s businesses, was honored on Saturday night as the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Roblan of the Year for his contributions to the community.
Cava Robles RV Resort, which opened in September 2018 off Highway 46, was given the 2018 Beautification of the Year award.
“There’s a spirit here in this town that’s very inviting, very accommodating,” Masia told The Tribune in August 2018.
Masia’s maternal grandfather, Hugh Black, moved to the Central Coast after World War I to study poultry farming at Cal Poly. He purchased cheap land in Paso Robles and establish Black’s Hatchery, a turkey farm.
After the turkey business started going downhill in the 1950s, the Blacks shifted their focus to hotels, Masia said.
Paso Robles’ first hotels were located along Spring Street, where vintage lodging can still be found. The construction of Highway 101 in the 1950s changed everything, shifting businesses toward the new roadway.
The Blacks opened their first hotel near the intersection of Highway 101 and Highway 46 in 1961 with 25 rooms. Now, the family owns two hotels in Paso Robles — the Best Western Plus Black Oak and the Adelaide Inn — and four in Cambria.
The family also counts a McDonald’s restaurant, an Arco gas station and a Starbucks coffee shop near the intersection among its holdings. And the business is continuing to expand — the city approved plans in May 2018 for a new 96-room hotel in the same area.
Masia, who began his career sweeping hotel floors at age 5, now conducts business in an office that used to be his childhood bedroom. His mother still lives on-site at the Black Oak, and his siblings and extended family continue to run the Blacks’ various businesses together.
“It was a nice area, a nice town to grow up in,” Masia said. “And there are still pieces of that here.”
As Paso Robles continues to evolve — much to some longtime locals’ chagrin — Masia is optimistic about the future, saying tourists serve to enhance the community.
“It’s going to change,” he said. “And once it has, you make the best of it.”