Quick Take:

Llano Seco Meats, one of the Bay Area’s largest suppliers of heritage pork, ceased production in mid-September, leaving...

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What’s up, Lookout friends? It is Wednesday, Sept. 27, and a sunny day is on tap around Santa Cruz County, with a bit of a breeze and highs in the 70s and 80s.

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Outdoor dining has become a staple since the pandemic, but that could be under threat in Santa Cruz as business owners face a spring deadline to complete the traditional permitting process, Jessica M. Pasko and Lily Belli report. “Financially and psychologically, it’s a huge process,” one restaurateur says. “I don’t think everyone is ready to commit to something big.”

Lily also talked to local merchants in the wake of the closure of Llano Seco Meats, a major provider of sustainable pork. Rest assured, there’s still plenty of high-quality meat to be had in Santa Cruz County.

From higher ed, Hillary Ojeda reports on how changes in the methodology of major college rankings have benefited Cal State Monterey Bay. With those rankings now prioritizing the value schools deliver for their students, CSUMB is up 264 spots in the Wall Street Journal’s list.

The Wednesday headlines await, but first this staff dispatch from Tuesday’s Lookout trivia finale.

Wallace Baine hosts Lookout's final 2023 trivia night at Abbott Square in downtown Santa Cruz.
Wallace Baine hosts Lookout’s final 2023 trivia night at Abbott Square in downtown Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Tuesday night marked the fourth and final Lookout Trivia Night event of 2023 at Abbott Square in downtown Santa Cruz. Around 50 people gathered for the monthly contest, hosted by Wallace Baine, that quizzed locals in the categories of Santa Cruz Restaurants of the Past, Games & Puzzles, and Junk Food, along with a music round.

The winners were the six-member team called the Wild Llamas, with second place going to another six-member group, Balderdash. The Llamas won on the following question: “Valentina Tereshkova is famous all over the world as the first woman in history to do what?” The answer: Go to space. The Soviet cosmonaut was the first woman in space when she orbited the Earth solo in 1963.

Lookout trivia winners from Sept. 26, 2023
The winning Wild Llamas: Jackie Rogoff, Stefanie Delvecchio, E.J. Wilborsky, Rachel Hedgepeth, Jefferey Wallace and Aaron Elbert.

Subjects of other questions included the six original playing tokens in Monopoly, new movies about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Barney the Purple Dinosaur, how Johnny Carson saved Twister, and the words featured on the famous neon clock outside Shopper’s Corner (“Time to Shop”).

The Wild Llamas were a team made up mostly of people who had moved to Santa Cruz County only in the past year, which put them at a decided disadvantage early in the contest when the theme of the first round was defunct local restaurants. But they came storming back in later rounds, making the final round with four other teams and outlasting them all through three tiebreakers.

Lookout’s monthly Trivia Night will return next spring to Abbott Square.

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Santa Cruz bars and restaurants sound alarm on city’s new rules for outdoor dining

Luca Viara, co-owner and head chef of Tramonti, inside the outdoor seating area of the Seabright restaurant.
Luca Viara, co-owner and head chef of Tramonti, inside the outdoor seating area of the Seabright restaurant. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

The City of Santa Cruz issued temporary permits for restaurants to shift to outdoor dining in a hasty response to the statewide COVID state of emergency, which forced the closure of indoor dining facilities during the pandemic. But starting as early as March, business owners will have to go through traditional permitting if they want to keep their outdoor dining spaces. Some restaurateurs say the slow, complicated and expensive process threatens their businesses. Details here from Jessica M. Pasko and Lily Belli.

RELATED: Santa Cruz transitions to permanent parklet program

10 must-see stops on the 37th annual Santa Cruz County Open Studios Art Tour

Cal State Monterey Bay among the beneficiaries of college rankings shakeup

Cal State Monterey Bay President Vanya Quiñones.
Cal State Monterey Bay President Vanya Quiñones. Credit: Via Cal State Monterey Bay

California State University Monterey Bay jumped up several spots in new college rankings from U.S. News & World Report and the Wall Street Journal. CSUMB President Vanya Quiñones attributed the jump in part to changes in the rankings system methodology that rewarded the school’s efforts to help students graduate with work prospects. The publications updated their methodologies this year after facing criticism that the rankings have too much influence on schools’ and families’ decision-making. Hillary Ojeda reports.

FROM LAST FALL: New CSUMB prez Vanya Quiñones talks about student growth, equity … and a cute cow

Santa Cruz Symphony announces 2023-24 season with musical prodigy Shun Kodaira Lopez

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A full plate as we head into hump day, but there’s more on tap from Lookout. Jessica M. Pasko will return later in the day with this week’s Santa Cruz County business roundup, so make sure you’re following Lookout on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads to stay current on everything we have cooking. We also offer breaking news alerts via email and text, to say nothing of a host of other newsletters, which you can sign up for right here.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Shaping up to be a delightful Wednesday out there — enjoy it.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

FRIDAY 10/20
The Mountain Affair @Ristorante Casa Nostra
Beers, Bikes and Bon Bons @Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
Vine to View Dinner @Chaminade Resort & Spa
10 O’Clock Lunch Band @Mid-County Senior Center
“The Thin Place” by Lucas Hnath @Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre

Wonderland – The Gala @Hotel Paradox
Pickleball Tournament @Cabrillo College
20th Annual Bonny Doon Art, Wine & Brew Festival @Crest Ranch
The 7th Annual Floating Pumpkin Patch @Simpkins Family Swim Center
Pleasure Point Sip & Stroll @Pleasure Point
Symphony Concert: Operas Of Seville @Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Uncork Corralitos @Alladin Nursery

SUNDAY 10/22
Symphony Concert: Operas Of Seville @Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts
Lydia Pense & Cold Blood @Moe’s Alley
Gaby Castro @Chaminade Resort & Spa
Solidarity Records: The Fully Baked Tour @Shanty Shack Brewing
An Evening With Patty Griffin & Todd Snider @Rio Theatre

Click for the full event calendar

A veteran jack-of-all-trades journalist who is Lookout’s copy editor, writes and compiles Morning Lookout newsletter and produces Lookout’s other editorial newsletters and helps run Lookout’s social...