George Evans is best remembered by most Cuenca expats as a gracious restaurant host, circulating easily among the guests at California Kitchen. For others, he was a friend when they needed one most.
When Dave Nelson cut open his forehead in a fall in front of the restaurant in 2011, it was Evans who took care of him. “George saw me come in, saw the bloody mess, ushered me into the kitchen area where he sat me down, and expertly cleaned and dressed the wounds,” he says. Nelson adds that George did such a good job he was able to stay for dinner.
George died Sunday night after a courageous battle with cancer.
Born in Oklahoma, George spent most of his life in California where he was dealer of luxury automobiles before retiring in 2006.
He began a second career after relocating to Cuenca, opening California Kitchen with his wife Carol and children Susie and Jim in April 2010. The restaurant quickly became one of the most popular in town, serving weekend specials, offering live music and dancing.
George had grown up in the family restaurant business in Oklahoma and California but never thought he would return to it. “I thought I was out of it once I left home,” he once said. “The thing that made me decide to get back to it in Cuenca, quite honestly, was Carol’s cooking. It’s so good I thought: why not share it!”
Regular California Kitchen customer Tom Dodds says he will remember George as an exceptional friend. “He was the kind of friend that if you have one during your lifetime, you’re lucky,” Dodds says.
Another customer, Sylvan Hardy, calls George a “world class” host. “He always wanted to make sure you were satisfied with your meal but he also cared if you were satisfied in general. When there was live music, I remember him inviting single women to dance.”
George served in the U.S. Navy and was in Vietnam at the time time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Afterward, he graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Business.
George and Carol were married in 1965 and he often referred to Susie and Jim as the “greatest achievements of my life.”