El Zopilote was moved from Third and Polk streets and was built around 1900. The name, Zopilote is described as the American black vulture. This space was so named by a jeweler, Victorio Bacchigalupe, who had a store here in the late 1970’s to the 80’s. It has had various uses over the years. In the 1920’s the building housed the New York Restaurant. In the early 1950’s it became the Blue Wing Antique shop, owned and operated by Claribel Haydock Zuck, who then sold the shop to photographer Sigurd Larsen and his wife Mae later in the 1950’s.
A group of buildings on this half block site were rescued and restored in 1958 by Larry and Paulina Lushbaugh. They include three buildings along Third Street along with the Calavera on Washington Street that was built in 1958.
This complex that is now Jardines de San Juan was opened in 1977 by Manuel Santana who was a master chef and owner of other restaurants in Santa Cruz County. Manny, as he was known to friends, used his culinary knowledge in developing the menu for the restaurants. He also was an accomplished gardener with a wide knowledge of the flora of California and Mexico. He put this expertise to use in designing the extensive gardens that gave this establishment its name, Gardens of San Juan.