When Cambria’s Citizen of the Year Consuelo Macedo and Business of the Year Linn’s Restaurant were honored at a chamber of commerce dinner Jan. 15, yes, the evening was about their accomplishments and inspiration — but mostly about friendship.
Long, firm bonds were celebrated by and obvious between the presenters, honorees and many in the audience.
On that stormy night, it was like a warm hug between friends.
Macedo ‘a shining golden thread’ in fabric of Cambria
For instance, when former county supervisor Shirley Bianchi introduced her friend Macedo, she recounted how they’d met at church soon after Macedo and husband Richard Macedo had finally moved to Cambria fulltime in 1999, after having been part-time residents for more than 35 years.
Subsequently, Richard Macedo served as Bianchi’s legislative assistant for nearly eight years, and as the two carpooled from Cambria to San Luis Obispo, he’d talk lovingly about his wife. Bianchi said, at first, “I thought ‘no one’s that good.’ And then I became more acquainted with Consuelo and found out that, yes, she is.”
Many people in town know the soft-spoken, modest Macedo through her “Culinary Corner” columns and other writings and photographs published in The Cambrian from 1999 to December 2018, when she handed the now monthly column over to Nancy Allen.
Macedo served on the Cambria Historical Society’s board for a dozen years, and her many volunteer duties ranged from “saving the Bianchini” house and garden — now the Cambria Historical Museum — to launching the society’s “Hundred Angels Campaign” to raise $100,000 to pay off the property’s mortgage.
Among Macedo’s many other longtime, intense involvements were with the Cambria Chamber of Commerce’s annual chili cook-off, the yearly Soupabration event, Santa Rosa Catholic Church, San Luis Obispo Food Bank Coalition, Hunger Awareness Walks for the Food Bank Collection, University Women of Cambria and Newcomers Club. She’s been a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary since she was 16 and is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts.
Macedo recalled that, as a young scout, she’d been “too chicken to sell my own Girl Scout cookies,” so she bought them all herself and hoped someone would ask her for them.
She said that when she accepted Susan McDonald’s request “to help with some hors d’oeuvres” for a historical society fundraiser, “I didn’t realize she meant to ask all the restaurants for party platters. And this was the girl that couldn’t sell her own cookies!”
But she got the appetizers, and has done so much more since then, providing the inspiration for others now, inspiration that she said she had gotten when she moved to town. She said that inspiration to help her “to grow up and be like” other Cambrians she wanted so much to emulate.
The former teacher credited many for helping her be the Cambrian she wanted to be, the person she became.
And when Supervisor Bruce Gibson presented Macedo with her certificate of honor from him and his peers, he called her “a shining golden thread in the fabric of Cambria,” a description with which the rest of the attendees seemed to heartily agree.
Linn’s now a ‘local empire’
Longtime friendship bonds were also recalled when Shanny Covey of the Robin’s restaurant group (last year’s business honoree) introduced John, Renee and Aaron Linn of Linn’s restaurants. Covey said that Linn’s and Robin’s had started in business about the same time, in the late 1970s, and both enterprises have prospered and grown exponentially since then.
Covey said the Linn’s “don’t just have a restaurant, they have a small, local empire,” with the restaurant on Main Street, Easy as Pie and Gourmet Goods around the corner on Bridge Street, the Santa Rosa Creek Road farm and farm store, and a wholesale business with their pies, jams, mixes and other self-labeled products.
John Linn said when the family moved to Cambria “with three little kids, two in diapers, owing $360,000,” they sold their new car and other assets to buy a trailer so they could live on the farm.
“Incidentally, we didn’t know anything then about farming or the restaurant business,” he said, adding “it was touching tonight to get an award from people who are our peers.”
Aaron Linn honored his parents in his comments, and said they’d all had to “be strong back in the day,” but that “we can’t let up. Things aren’t getting easier,” and the community has to continue to work together.
Renee Linn spoke of the passion shared by her, her family and her employees, whom she said are “Linn-vested” in the company dream and future.