Owner of popular Miami Beach restaurant Manolo murdered in Argentina by ex-father-in-law, cops say

One of the owners of the famous restaurant chain Manolo, who opened a branch in Miami Beach’s Little Buenos Aires, was shot to death by his former father-in-law, who then killed himself, according to several Argentine news media reports.

Prosecutor Alejandro Pellegrinelli, was quoted in the reports as saying that Juan Manuel Santurian, 63, was killed by Miguel Ángel García in Mar del Plata after the breakup of Santurian and Garcia’s daughter.

Santurian, a third-generation restaurateur, opened Manolo on Miami Beach in 2004 and the restaurant, known among other offerings for its traditional styled churros filled with dulce de leche, has since been a popular stop for Argentines living in North Beach or visiting South Florida. It is also a favorite spot for soccer fans to gather to watch big games.

A native of Uruguay, Santurian told the Miami Herald when he opened the restaurant that he picked that area for his franchise because it offered immediate recognition of his brand, a family business that goes back to Spain in 1930. The Miami Beach location features black and white photos of the family’s first churrerías or churro shops in Spain and Uruguay, where it migrated during the Spanish Civil War. The restaurant is named after his grandfather, Manolo Benito.

Santurian was reportedly killed in the parking lot of a luxury apartment complex he developed in Mar del Plata. Police forensic investigators, using videos from the building’s surveillance cameras, said that the killer waited for Santurian near his parked Mercedes Benz Tuesday morning. He was shot four times, according to local news media reports.

IMG_004_World_cup_watch__2_1_I1E0HVGN_L400251416.JPG

Fans of Argentina’s national soccer team react after Croatia scores the third goal as they watch a television broadcast of the Russia 2018 World Cup match between Argentina and Croatia at Manolo on June 21, 2018, in Miami Beach.

David Santiago dsantiago@miamiherald.com

“It’s clear that there’s a very powerful and burdensome story, for a person to reach the decision to kill and then take his own life,” the Clarín newspaper quoted an investigator as saying. The newspaper listed financial and family disputes among the possible motives.

The La Nación newspaper reported that García, 70, was depressed because of his daughter’s breakup with Santurian.

Santurian lived between Mar del Plata and Miami. The restaurant remains open.

Flor Paz of el Nuevo Herald and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald contributed to this report.