July 20, 2011

National Tequila Day Set for July 24; Mariano Martinez, Inventor of the Frozen Margarita Machine, Featured on ABC Nightline on July 20.

DALLAS, July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As America prepares for National Tequila Day on Sunday, July 24, Mariano Martinez, the inventor of the frozen margarita machine, was featured on ABC's "Nightline", broadcast nationwide on Wednesday, July 20. For one of Mariano's favorite margarita recipes he shared on "Nightline", go to http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/recipes-margarita-man-mariano-martinezs-perfect-margarita/story?id=14072936

More than 185,000 margaritas were consumed per hour by Americans in 2008 according to Brown Foreman, one of the nation's largest spirits distributors. That makes the margarita the most popular cocktail in the United States. The man most credited for this phenomenon is Dallas restaurateur/entrepreneur Mariano (who goes by his first name only).

This past May was the 40th anniversary of his invention of the frozen margarita machine, which resides in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. "There's no doubt where the credit belongs," said Dr. Rayna Green, curator of the Smithsonian's National Museum in Washington, D.C. "Museum officials spent more than a year researching the history of the frozen margarita and verifying its origin."

The significance of this machine was quantified this past September when the museum released its list of the top 10 American inventions. Topping the list was Thomas Edison's light bulb and "Mariano's Cool Creation" came in 10th.

"It is an inspiring story about the rise of a smart, young businessman who made this incredible choice at the right time," said Dr. Green. "No, it's not the Model T, but we have a lot of little things in the museum that are little innovations that became important."

It was an idea inspired by a Slurpee machine, executed by a young restaurant owner struggling to stay afloat. "As a result," said Dr. Green, "margaritas and Tex-Mex cuisine emerged as an essential part of the American culture."

In the 1970s, the margarita surpassed the martini as the most popular American cocktail and salsa surpassed ketchup as the most-used American condiment. Today, Mexican cuisine, in all its modified, regionalized and commercialized varieties, has become as American as apple pie. Mariano and his frozen margarita machine were at the crossroads of that revolution.

The rise of the frozen margarita in the late 1970s and early 1980s set off a radical change in the Tex-Mex restaurant business. Vintage Tex-Mex restaurants didn't even have bars, but from the 1970s on, the bar became the center of every Tex-Mex restaurant.

"To us, it's a story about American innovation and entrepreneurial spirit," said Dr. Green, "and it coincides with a very interesting story of Tex-Mex becoming a phenomenon."

In 1971, Mariano, who opened his first restaurant with only $500 and an S.B.A. loan had no designs of becoming an inventor or an icon; he was just trying to succeed in running his first restaurant and realize the American Dream of owning his own business.

"The margarita made tequila an acceptable drink for women," explained Marc N. Scheinman, a marketing professor at Pace University's Lubin School of Business and author of a study called "The Global Market for Tequila".

"Demographics played a huge role in the popularity of the frozen margarita," said Scheinman. "The spread of the frozen margarita coincided with large numbers of young women coming into the workforce."

In the early '70s liquor-by-the-drink and the influx of young female professionals collided with happy hours and Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" to create an after-work party atmosphere that was fueled by the new margarita machine.

At first the new creation changed the way people socialized in the hip Upper Greenville Avenue area of Dallas, before quickly spreading all across the city. Mariano's became the popular destination for young professionals, including professional athletes, upscale apartment residents and other young Dallasites looking for a good time. Then, as frozen margarita machines became prevalent throughout the state, Martinez' creation incited such a buzz in the industry that other Tex-Mex restaurants quickly followed Martinez' formula of positioning his bars and bartenders front and center. These new frozen margarita machines were key in helping make Tex-Mex restaurants the most popular places to go for happy hour.

The economic and public relations value of his creation went beyond the Tex-Mex realm. Other restaurants and clubs began to copy his idea, and by the end of the '70s, the frozen margarita machine was required equipment in any big bar.

Large restaurant chains such as Steak and Ale, Chili's, and Bennigan's soon installed new margarita machines and spread the fame of the frozen margarita nationally.

Texans ushered in a national phenomenon, then the frozen margarita became the most popular drink in America. Frozen margarita machines are now a worldwide hit and are found in 36 countries. It has changed the culture of Mexican food and added to the bottom line of thousands of Tex-Mex restaurants in Texas and across the globe.

But while the social aspect of the frozen margarita has been well documented over the years, only recently has the major impact of Mariano's machine on the American economy come into focus - It has created thousands of new jobs and has been a significant influence on the prosperity of our nation's hospitality industry's bottom line at thousands of Tex-Mex restaurants in Texas and across the globe.

Dr. Green described the importance of Mariano's invention as "a great American success story of entrepreneurship - a bright young man at the right place at the right time that changed our drinking habits in America in a big way forever."

Consider this. The hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels, etc.) is the single largest creator of new jobs, as well as the biggest employer in the United States. The mortality rate in the restaurant business prior to 1971 was the highest of any business. Sometimes the difference between a restaurant keeping its doors open and closing, comes down to unsustainable losses of a few hundred dollars per month, due to lack of profits, inconsistent quality and labor costs.

Mariano's machine addressed these obstacles and helped overcome them. The popularity of frozen margaritas boosted the bottom line by adding extra sales to lunch and dinner tickets that might not have included an alcoholic beverage otherwise.

It has been 40 years since Mariano invented the margarita machine and changed the hospitality industry in America. Four decades ago he was a fearless young entrepreneur with $500 in his pocket. Today he and his wife Wanda live in Dallas, Texas, when they are not in their home in northern California.

On National Tequila Day, Americans should toast to Mariano and his invention of the frozen margarita machine. With it, he single-handedly changed an entire U.S. industry. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, as well as people all over the world, have partaken of Mariano's frozen lime concoction from his margarita machine over the past four decades, and they will agree that helping the U.S. economy has never tasted so good.

For More Information Contact K.E. Dooley at [email protected]

SOURCE Mariano Martinez