Community Rallies In Support of Shellback Manager
Oct 12, 2020 09:49AM
By Jeanne Fratello
As a beloved Shellback Tavern manager prepares to adopt five children of a family member who died from COVID-19 - in addition to his own four children - the Manhattan Beach community is rallying in support.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe page for Rico De Alba, who has worked at Shellback for almost three decades. De Alba is well-known in the community as a friendly face at one of the town's favorite beachside watering holes.
"When you go downtown, he’s a friend to everyone," said Grant Chalmers, a Manhattan Beach resident who created the GoFundMe along with his girlfriend Nicole Rosen. "Everyone knows the name Rico."
In just one weekend, the fundraiser has already surpassed $37,000.
A Sudden Family of 11
De Alba's brother-in-law, Marlon Blandon, died from COVID-19 in July, leaving behind five young children. De Alba and his wife, already parents to four children, stepped in without hesitation. The family is currently in the process of formally adopting the five children.
As a family of 11, their nine children include seven girls (ages 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 14, and 17), and two boys (ages 3 and 6).
Chalmers had become friendly with De Alba from his frequent trips to Shellback. When he learned about De Alba's situation, he told DigMB, he knew he had to do something.
Chalmers and Rosen created the GoFundMe page, which was almost instantly inundated with donations on behalf of De Alba. In the first 24 hours, it had just about reached half of its $50,000 goal. It is now well on its way to reach or even exceed that goal.
Chalmers said that De Alba was the kind of guy who would never ask for this kind of attention or fundraising, but the instant love from the community "speaks to Rico's character."
Chalmers added that he had surveyed the list of donors and - even as a lifelong resident- didn't even know many of the names, which spoke to just how many people De Alba and his story had touched.
"It’s honestly just amazing to see the support," Chalmers told DigMB. "This is an amazing community. I would have never in my wildest dreams believed that we would be able to do something like this."
A Legend at Shellback
In fact, De Alba is well-known to anyone who has frequented Shellback Tavern. (He was named Best Bartender in the Easy Reader's Best of the Beach 2010.)
"Rico has been working for me since his early teenage years. He started helping his brother out in the kitchen when I owned Grunions back in the 1990's," said Bob Beverly, owner of Shellback. "He worked his way up from dishwasher to busboy to chef and manager of Shellback Tavern for the last 20 plus years."
De Alba's name comes up frequently in reviews of Shellback Tavern, and "Rico's Icelandic Cod Tenders" are a perennial favorite on the Shellback menu (not to mention Rico's famous Fanta shot.)
Beverly noted that De Alba and his wife had already opened their home to a child in need: One of his four current children is a nephew who was in need of family. Now he and his wife will have an even larger addition.
"When I asked him how he was going to do it, he said, 'I don't know, but I know I have to do it,'" said Beverly. "He has been blessed with good friends helping out with schooling and donations. The De Albas are certainly deserving of any and all support that can be given."