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Three generations of duty, honor and country

Restaurant owner Mimi Espinoza stands in front of a composite of pictures and mementos of her father, grandfather and great grandfather, all of whom were accomplished United States Naval officers and who all retired as rear admirals. The tribute hangs in the lobby of Trestles Coastal Cuisine in The Village Shops.

The ocean must course through Mimi Espinoza’s blood. Not only because she is the owner of Trestles Coastal Cuisine in The Village Shops, but because she is a proud daughter of three generations of Naval officers, all who retired as Rear Admirals. To commemorate her heritage, Mimi has framed a historical and fascinating composite of pictures and mementos on display at Trestles.

As a Navy brat, Mimi was born in Connecticut on a submarine base. “I moved 16 times before I was 19 years old and I have lived in 10 different states, some of them multiple times,” Mimi shared.

Her father, Jeffrey Metzel Jr. went to the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) at 17 years old. Because of World War II, the classes were rushed; the class of 1947 graduated in 1946. By that time, the war was over. Metzel had hoped to be a pilot but his eyesight precluded him the opportunity; therefore, he found his calling in submarines.

In 1951, Congress commissioned the USS Nautilus, the first-ever nuclear-powered submarine. Commander Metzel was the fourth officer to man the vessel. The Metzel family and Mimi at age 4 were able to go aboard for a visit inside. Mimi’s father commanded the USS Nautilus from 1962 to 1963.

After the Nautilus, the Metzels were sent to Washington, D.C. where Commander Metzel worked at the Pentagon. He worked on weapon systems projects for submarines for several years.

“He was fighting Congress for money for those systems, which are still used in submarines today,” remembered Mimi. “Dad had a fabulous career and loved every minute of it.”

Mimi’s grandfather, Jeffrey Metzel (pictured above center), was USNA class of 1919. At the beginning of the Cold War, the senior Metzel worked for Joint Task Force One, a nuclear testing site at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The U.S. detonated 24 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958, and test sites were done on the reef, on the sea, underwater and in the air. Metzel received the Legion of Merit award for outstanding services as Head of the Readiness Section on the staff of the Commander in Chief to the U.S. Fleet from 1942 to 1945.

Mimi’s great grandfather, Hutchinson Cone, graduated from the USNA in 1894. He was instrumental in modernizing the Navy’s engineering practices. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Cone to a four-year term as chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Engineering followed by head of Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service.

In October 1918, Cone was on the RMS Leinster, a merchant ship traveling from Ireland to London that was torpedoed by a German submarine (UB-123). More than 500 people died, but Cone survived with severe injury to his legs, which forced him to retire from the Navy. Cone became head of U.S. shipping in Europe where he met many influencers of the day, including Daniel Guggenheim, Charles Lindbergh and Orville Wright, to name a few. Navy destroyer USS Cone was named after Cone posthumously in 1945.

Mimi concluded that although she never met her grandfather or great grandfather, her Dad was a product of serving the country and others. “He took care of everyone – his friends, his family and the nation, and he never complained. He was the man of steel.”

Mimi’s Dad passed away in 2016, and although he and his wife could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, they wanted their final resting place to be at sea. Mimi took their ashes to Washington state to the USS Pennsylvania and the crew dispersed them into the northern Pacific Ocean. (An American flag pictured on the framed map in Trestles’ lobby notes the location where the ashes were released; also pictured on the front page).

Mimi’s dad never got to see Trestles, which opened in 2017, the year following his death.   “It was my inheritance from his life savings that opened the restaurant,” said Mimi. “Dad would have loved this place.”


Circa 1928, some of the greatest engineers and aviators of their time formed the Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics. This photo includes, among others, Mimi’s great-grandfather Hutchison Cone (1), Charles Lindbergh (2), Harry Guggenheim (3), Daniel Guggenheim (4) and Orville Wright (5).


The USS Nautilus was named for the fictional submarine, the Nautilus, from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas. Verne’s grandson sent a painting of the mythical submarine (hanging behind the Metzel Family pictured above, with Mimi at age 4 front and center and her father standing) to President Eisenhower who then sent it to the USS Nautilus.


In 1908, Mimi’s great-grandfather Hutchinson Cone received a letter from President Theodore Roosevelt thanking him and his crew for a difficult voyage from Virginia to San Francisco via the Strait of Magellan in South America.


By Hollen Wheeler; photos courtesy of Mimi Espinoza




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