Baja Voices – Jorge Viaña
By Justin Porter Biel
Jorge Viaña was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and is the General Manager of the world famous Cabo Wabo Cantina. Along with Sammy Hagar, Viaña founded Cabo Wabo in 1990. Viaña has run Cabo Wabo’s Los Cabos location ever since, becoming a fixture of the community. Known for his huge personality and his love of Los Cabos, Viaña has hosted all the musical greats to perform at Los Cabos most iconic club.
JB: When and why did you move to Los Cabos?
JV: In 1976, after Hotel Administration School in Mexico City. I came to work at the Hyatt Hotel in Cabo Bello.
JB: What was Los Cabos like when you arrived? How has it changed over the years?
JV: There were probably around 6,000 people between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo when I arrived to paradise. Los Cabos was created when the international airport opened. Before that, flights where only available to La Paz and you would have to drive to Cabo (on highway 1) or you’d have to take a small plane from “Servicios Aéreos” to the Chileno airstrip.
JB: Have you always been drawn to the restaurant and nightlife industry?
JV: I had two jobs, day time at the Twin Dolphin Hotel and evenings at Alfonso’s Restaurant at El Medano. I was always involved in F. & B.
JB: How did you become involved in Cabo Wabo?
JV: When I met Sammy Hagar at the Twin Dolphin Hotel in 1986, I didn’t know who he was until he told me he was the front man for Van Halen. I told him it was David Lee Roth – there were no newspapers or television, so I had no idea he was with Van Halen. That’s when he asked me why I had two jobs and I told him I was saving money to open my restaurant-bar. He decided to open a small bar with me and later he invited Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony, and the Cabo Wabo Cantina in opened 1990.
JB: What is your official role at Cabo Wabo?
JV: I’m the General Manager and co-own the Cantina with Sammy and Marco Monroy, who became a partner in 1993.
JB: Who are some of the musical guests you’ve hosted?
JV: I have met a lot of musicians, actors, song writers and sports personalities, among them Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Slash, Kirk Hammet, Chad Smith, Chad Kroger, Bernie Taupin, Rihanna, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Zack Wilde, Lars Ulrich, Duff McKagan, Denny Carmassi, Mike Inez, Gilby Clarke, Randy Castillo, Steve Jones, Roger Taylor, Tommy Lee, John Mayer, James Hetfield, Joan Jett, Rob Zombie, Nuno Bettencourt, Vince Neil, Chris Issac, Vinnie Paul, Bono, Matt Sorum, Jerry Cantrell, John Entwistle, Justin Timberlake, Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson, Larry Mullen, Toby Keith, Oscar de la Hoya, Tré Cool, Guy Fieri, Alex González, Chis Angel, Alec Monopoly, Adam Lavine, Eddie Money, Sabastian Bach, Donovan Leitch, Mark McGrath, Kenny Chesney, Fher Olvera, Sean Penn, Ronnie Montrose, Paul Rodgers, Mick Jones, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Emeril Lagasse, Jimmy Page, and many more.
JB: Are there any artists who haven’t played Cabo Wabo that you’d love to see?
JV: Definitely Led Zeppelin would be the band I’d love to see.
JB: Do you believe things happen for a reason?
JV: Yes, three guys totally different from each other were able to create one of the most important Rock & Roll bars in the world.
JB: Why have you stayed in Los Cabos all these years?
JV: To have my family live in the best part of Baja Sur and to have my children grow-up in a town like Cabo.