EATERS DIGEST: Cruz Kitchen & Taps opens and a Santa Cruz Starbucks files for unionization


Last week my hair really exploded, so to speak. It’s been a big week for food news, starting Monday with the sudden announcement that Soif restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz will be closing this Saturday after 20 years in downtown Santa Cruz.

Tuesday, Lookout’s first food newsletter, Lily Belli on food, was sent to our more than 18,000 subscribers. I’m proud of the news I’ve been able to gather in this inaugural issue with the help and support of our Lookout team, and I look forward to sending it to you each week. Read it here if you missed itand be sure to sign up for our newsletters if you haven’t already.

In other news, a local Starbucks became the company’s first location in California to file for union membership, and I stopped by the new downtown restaurant, Cruz Kitchen & Taps, for dinner. Keep reading to learn more.


A Starbucks on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz filed for union elections last week, joining a growing movement of Starbucks baristas calling for unionization. It’s the first of about 2,500 Starbucks in California to do so.

“With the help of our local DSA in Santa Cruz and other labor organizers in the area, I am proud to say that today we are the first store in California to file our election with the NLRB,” Joseph Thompsonthe main organizer of the effort, said in a video posted on Twitter, noting the help of the local Democratic Socialists of America to engage with the National Labor Relations Board. “I’ve been a supervisor at Starbucks for about two years, and this is the worst store I’ve ever seen. The working conditions are super bad, the partners are underpaid, understaffed and overworked. It’s terrible, and that’s why we need a union to represent our voice and our interests.

In a letter to Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson, Starbucks Workers United said, “We are all united by our passion for our work and our desire to continue to make it a beacon for our community, and we believe that forming a union is the first important step in the pursuit of improving the Starbucks experience. The letter is signed by 13 partners, or employees.

A wave of Starbucks workers calling for unionization has swept across the country since Starbucks employees in Buffalo, New York, were able to form their own union in December. It will likely be an uphill battle, as Starbucks has been known to use aggressive tactics to prevent employees from unionizing.

For its part, the company denies having been caught off guard by union pressure. “It shows a lack of understanding of how our leaders are engaging with our partners,” Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges told CNBC, saying the company holds regular meetings and listening sessions. with the workers.

Patrice Boyle, owner of Soif in downtown Santa Cruz, announced that the restaurant will close its doors after 20 years and will serve its last meal on Saturday. The wine bar will remain open for the time being, and a mysterious new tenant will take over the restaurant space. Learn more here.

After seven years, Santa Cruz Food Lounge founder Andrea Mollenauer hands over management of the kitchen and event space to brothers Joel and Brayden Estby, owners of 11th Hour Coffee. Learn more about the transition here.

Eat this

Dameon Deworken and Mia Thorn of Cruz Kitchen & Taps

Dameon Deworken and Mia Thorn set up Cruz Kitchen & Taps in the location once occupied by the downtown Saturn Cafe.

(Max Chun / Belvedere Santa Cruz)

Cruz Kitchen & Taps officially opened this week, and I got to check it out last weekend when it soft-opened. The new downtown restaurant is the brainchild of the chef Dameon Deworken Drunk Monkeys food truck and business partner Mia Thorn.

As I walked into the restaurant inside the former Saturn Café at the corner of Laurel Street and Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, I couldn’t help but think fondly of many veggie burgers and Late-night vegan milkshakes from my student days. Deworken and Thorn have clearly put a lot of energy into sprucing up the iconic building and modernizing the interior, with new coats of paint, new stalls and a gorgeous new bar remodeled by Paul Neall of Concrete Craftsman. Each painting features the work of a different Santa Cruz artist, including Marie Gabrielle, Tina Fuller Somers, Janet Allinger, and Yeshe Jackson. More local art is proudly displayed on the walls.

The menu offers starters, salads and dishes with flavors from the Pacific Islands. My friend and I both enjoyed the smoked white fish appetizer ($12), prepared poke style with cucumber, radish, green onion and wonton chips. I loved the chicken wings ($12), funky from the fish sauce and leaning more sweet than tangy. As a starter, we fought over — I mean, shared — the Fork Braised Ribs with Honey Miso Mustard ($26). Next time I will try the blackened basa with a red pepper and yuzu sauce ($18).

Deworken and Thorn are still waiting for the Department of Liquor Control to sign their liquor license, so for now the bar is closed. customers are welcome to BYOB at no charge. Stop for dinner Wednesday through Sunday starting at 4 p.m. More information on

Thank you to everyone who wrote in with suggestions for their favorite local products. When I decided to write a story featuring some of the best Santa Cruz County-made products on grocery store shelves, I had no idea there were so many!

As I filled my basket time and time again, there were times when I wondered if I was in over my head. But I can’t stop, because I’m engaging with you, dear readers (and also my editor), and having too much fun. My list of local products to try comes out next week.


Chief jessica yarThe Chicken Foot pop-up will serve brunch at the Westside Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market this Saturday. Stop by for its delicious Eastern European home cooking with a Santa Cruz twist, including fried knish, vegan pierogi, nut toast with kumquats and Russian cheese, brioche doughnuts, homemade granola and more. Check out the menu on Instagram at @_chicken foot_, and come early. Don’t miss it!

Tickets are available now for the Aptos Wine Wander, hosted by Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, in the village of Aptos on Saturday, February 26. At this outdoor event, attendees can sample 16 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries, including Big Basin Vineyards, Burrell School Vineyards, and Ser Winery, to name a few. Cantine Wine Pub, Warmth Company and over half a dozen other local businesses will also be on hand. Space is very limited, so reserve your spot now at


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