Since the news broke about Las Cuatro Milpas closing its doors, there has been a lot of chatter around San Bernardino and the Inland community regarding why the current owners are closing the business instead of handing it off to the next generation.
Well, handing the business off is precisely what happened to the current owner Norma Munoz, who was gratefully given the business by her father, Enrique Mata, in 1988.
Mata acquired the business (located on Sixth Street at the time) in February 1968 from its original owner Dona Conchita, who owned the business between 1964 and 1967.
Mata was said to have had a keen sense and understanding of how to operate a business. At the same time, his mother, Concepsion, was the queen of cooking, with tons of original recipes, many of which are still being utilized by the beloved restaurant today.
Fast forward to 2022, owners of Las Cuatro Milpas Norma (who began working at 15 making flour tortillas) and Jose Munoz are ready to retire and are fortunate enough that each of their four children has a career of their own.
“We don’t have anyone to hand down the business to. Each of our four sons went off to college and are well into their own profession. One of our sons is a professor at Cal State, San Bernardino, the other works in film, while the other two work for the government. My wife and I are ready to retire and travel to each of the 50 states across the country,” said Jose Munoz
Since Norma, 69 and Jose, 77, were given the restaurant 34 years ago, they’ve woken up at 3 AM, seven days a week, to prepare the corn, masa and other ingredients for their handmade tamales, tortillas, menudo and more.
“I think this business has thrived for over five decades because we have continued to use the same recipes that my wife’s grandmother Concepsion used, which were made with love and dedication. In addition, Las Cuatro Milpas has always used real corn, and not maseca, which some businesses use because it’s cheaper,” continued Jose Munoz.
While Jose Munoz was standing in the parking lot talking to Inland Empire Community News on December 13th, one customer was driving off and stopped to say, “I’m so sad to see you guys are closing. My wife stopped making tamales years ago; these are the best ones we’ve had across town. But, congrats on the retirement; I know it is well deserved.”
Munoz said that come 5 PM on December 31st, the doors will close for good.
“It’s going to be a happy day but tough as I approach the front door, close it and put a lock on it for good. It will bring me memories of my father-in-law, Grandma Conchita, and I’m pretty sure I’ll shed some tears,” Jose Munoz said.
Norma and Jose Munoz would like to thank the Mt. Vernon community, San Bernardino, and all across the Inland Empire for supporting Las Cuatro Milpas over the past 54 years.
“I wish the best for our community and would like to wish everyone across the Inland Empire a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” concluded Munoz.
Las Cuatro Milpas is located at 856 N. Mt Vernon Ave, San Bernardino.
It opens at 6 a.m. every day of the week.