Frank Machado — Elegant Bull restaurant owner — dies at 91
The local community is mourning the loss of Frank Machado — the stalwart restaurateur behind Delhi’s Elegant Bull restaurant and one of the most compelling fine-dining experiences in this region of the Central Valley for more than three decades.
Machado passed away on Friday, Nov. 11. He was 91.
Just two months ago, Machado, his wife Karen, and the restaurant’s staff were honored with the Small Business of the Year award by State Assemblyman Adam Gray.
Despite his advanced years, Machado was known for working at the restaurant every day, making sure all the details of the operation went smoothly. He was loved by regulars who sought out his company and enjoyed spirited and straight-forward conversations with him about everything from culture and food to sports and politics.
Machado and his wife Karen opened the restaurant in Delhi, right along Highway 99, in 1989 with ideas of attracting thousands of customers and welcoming them with incredible food and an elegant atmosphere.
“When you come to the Elegant Bull, you get a tablecloth,” Machado would say. “You get linen napkins. There are rugs on the floor, and those who serve you are wearing ties.”
Over the years, Machado was responsible for bringing unique dishes to the local community, including those that reflected his Portuguese heritage, including Steak de Lisboa, linguica and morcela.
The restaurant also became very popular with the officers of Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, before the base closed in 1992.
The Elegant Bull has been celebrated by restaurant critics across the state, and the guest praises in the online world are by the thousands.
Hilmar Native Son
Machado was born in Hilmar to Portuguese immigrants Antonio Silveria Machado and Maria Viera on May 6, 1931. The young Machado grew up with three sisters; Elvira, Angie, Mary, and one brother Tony.
When he attended Hilmar High School, he captured attention as the star quarterback and captain of the football team. He graduated from Hilmar High with the Class of 1949.
From there, he never forgot his roots, and became a lifelong supporter of Hilmar High and the local community.
He went on to serve in the U.S. Navy and traveled all around the world. When Machado returned from the Navy in the 1950s, a cousin helped him get a job in Santa Clara. Soon, he opened a pizza parlor, and that put him on the road to becoming a full-fledged restaurateur who dabbled in several successful ventures in the 1960s and ’70s.
When he opened the Berry Farm restaurant in Santa Clara, elegance and atmosphere were his trademarks. That’s also where he met his wife, Karen, in the mid-1970s. She was 32 and he was 44 when they were married. And they worked side-by-side from there on.
“She is the love of my life,” Machado would say.
He would also add that Karen was the secret ingredient behind the Elegant Bull in Delhi.
“You’ve got to have love and beauty and you’ve got to have strength, that’s what it takes,” Machado once said. “She has all three.”
The couple raised eight children together, and they eventually settled down on a small ranch in Stevinson.
Frank Machado is survived by his wife Karen, and seven children. Frank’s oldest son preceded him in death.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Wilson Family Funeral Home in Atwater. A Visitation will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Wilson Family Funeral Chapel, 1290 Winton Way, Atwater. A Mass will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 10 a.m., at All Saints University Parish, 4040 McKenna Drive in Turlock. There will be a private burial. Later that day, on Nov. 23, family members and friends are invited to a Celebration of Life at the Elegant Bull restaurant.