Papa-San Changes Hands: Restaurant Gets New Owner

By Joyce Lobeck

After 21 years plus one day, Bill and Judy Gresser have sold their longtime restaurant, Papa-San Rice Bowl.

New owners Dr. Adalberto Robles and his wife, Maria, took over the restaurant on Saturday.

Three days later, “Maria-San” was all smiles as she talked about her family and their decision to take on the restaurant, saying she’s been enjoying getting to know her employees and customers.

“We were looking for a business opportunity,” she explained, and she and her family have been longtime faithful customers of Papa-San so it seemed like a good fit to take it over.

The only thing to change is the ownership. The Robleses will continue with the same name, recipes, employees and the head cook, Toshi Resh, who has been with the Gressers since before they opened the doors to what at the time was a new kind of dining for Yuma.

“I really appreciate that Maria and her husband will keep all the employees,” said Judy.

In fact, that was a major deciding factor in the various offers the Gressers received for their establishment at 2770 S. 4th Ave.

Bill explained that he was ready to slow down and turn over the business to someone else. He will remain on board for 60 days as a consultant to help assure a smooth and successful transition.

He emphasized that the couple has every intention of remaining in Yuma, although now that both of them are retired, they will take some time to travel. His wife had retired last year as the executive director of the Yuma Community Foundation.

“We’re not leaving town,” Bill said. “We will stay active and involved.”

In fact, Judy already has taken on a volunteer position co-chairing the Healthiest Community in America campaign launched last month by Dr. Carl Myers.

The Robles family moved to Yuma several years ago. Dr. Robles has a medical practice in Algodones and also has a pharmacy and dental office there. Maria is a real estate broker who has been with Yvonne Taylor and Associates for 10 years and keeps busy managing the various properties the couple owns.

A job she will now juggle with the restaurant.

The family also includes a daughter who graduated from Arizona State University and is applying for medical school, one son who is attending dental school, a second who works with his father and a third who was in the Marine Corps.

The Gressers observed the 21st anniversary of their business on Feb. 27. They sold it on Feb. 28 and the Robleses took over on March 1.

The Gressers started up Papa-San after moving to Yuma to help their son, who had purchased the former Greyhound Dog Track that today is the home of Yuma Swap Meet.

Judy recalled that Bill came home one day and said he wanted them to partner on a business.

Her reply: “Anything but a restaurant.”

Restaurant it was to be. Bill explained that he had been in the food business since 1965 ranging from a fine dining large restaurant with more than 1,000 seats to a concession stand at a flea market.

Bill noted that Papa-San had the distinction of being among the first fast-food restaurants in Yuma to offer something besides hamburgers and burritos, the first to have sushi, the first business in Yuma to have a Small Business Development Administration loan and the first restaurant to ban smoking.

“We saw our baby through to maturity,” he concluded.

And now it is being reborn, added his wife.