Quick Take:

In her weekly roundup of news and notes from the Santa Cruz County business community, Jessica M. Pasko looks at hurdles facing restaurants wanting to keep their pandemic-era outdoor dining spaces, Joby Aviation’s Air Force connection and a loss for the Crepe Place family.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering effects on economies everywhere, we’ll be taking a closer look at the movers and shakers, the growth of industries, and what’s really driving the Santa Cruz County economy. I’ll be spotlighting some of the biggest areas for opportunity, updates on local development and all things underpinning the regional business scene each Wednesday.

Got ideas? Send them my way to news@lookoutlocal.com with “Business news” in the subject line.

Deadline looming for Santa Cruz restaurants, bars to transition to permanent outdoor dining permits

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

Temporary permits for outdoor dining were a lifeline for bars and restaurants during the pandemic, enabling them to continue doing business even when indoor dining was shut down.

Now, those temporary permits are set to expire this spring and the City of Santa Cruz is embarking on the process of how to move these into the permanent permit process. There are currently 21 businesses with active temporary permits, including Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe, Brady’s Yacht Club, Tramonti, La Posta Restaurant and Seabright Deli on the Eastside. Mission West, Bantam and MJA Vineyards are just a few of the Westside businesses that will be affected by the changes. These changes apply only to businesses with patios and other outdoor spaces on private property.

For some establishments, this will likely mean overhauling their current setup to ensure it complies with state and local building regulations. Customers have gotten so accustomed to outdoor space, and especially as COVID-19 rates rise again, shutting it down won’t be a feasible option for some owners. And businesses that are close to residential areas will have to go through a hearing where the public can air concerns (or supportive comments) about the business’s outdoor operations.

It can seem daunting for many owners, especially considering some of the plans are still being finalized by city officials. The temporary outdoor dining permits are currently set to expire on March 31, but that deadline is likely to be extended, according to Rebecca Unitt, economic development manager for the City of Santa Cruz.

This is separate from the city’s permanent parklet program, which includes only those businesses with outdoor dining on city property.

To apply for a permanent permit, restaurants and bars will have to comply with state and local building codes and go through review with the city’s planning commission. For some businesses, this will also require what’s called a zoning administration hearing, where residents have the opportunity to provide comments and raise any potential concerns about the proposed outdoor seating area.

Read more from Lily Belli and me on how the new plans are shaping out, what businesses will need to do, and how restaurant and bar owners are planning to respond.

Joby Aviation delivers first electric air taxi to U.S. Air Force

Joby Aviation's electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft on display at its Marina facility
Joby Aviation’s electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft on display at its Marina facility. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

A week after announcing that the company had selected Dayton, Ohio, as the location of its new facility, Joby Aviation has delivered its first electric air taxi to the U.S. Air Force. That’s about six months ahead of schedule, according to company officials.

Representatives from the Santa Cruz-headquartered electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) company joined leaders from the Air Force, NASA and Congress at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California on Monday. The delivery is part of Joby’s contract with the Air Force, and the aircraft, built at the company’s Marina facility in Monterey County, will be stationed at Edwards for at least the next year.

ICYMI: Wallace Baine wrote about the company opening its new Santa Cruz office in June.

Former owner of Crepe Place dies

Current and former owners of the Crepe Place during the Santa Cruz restaurant's 50th anniversary party in February.
From left to right: former Crepe Place owners Eric Gifford and Gary Keeley, current owners Chuck and Vanessa Platt, and former owner Adam Bergeron at the 50th anniversary party in February. Credit: Via Nicholas Gyorkos

Gary Keeley, one of the original owners of the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, died last week, the restaurant announced on Facebook. Keeley opened the venerable institution with his wife, Marlene, back in 1973 in downtown Santa Cruz, inspired by his sister’s trip to Paris. Keeley attended the iconic restaurant and venue’s 50th anniversary earlier this year at its present home in Midtown, now owned by local musician Chuck Platt and his wife, Vanessa.

Ch-ch-changes: Openings, closings and other developments

  • Sutter executive Stephen Gray has been selected as the new CEO of Watsonville Community Hospital. (Read more here.)
  • Crocker’s Lockers Self-Storage will be opening a new facility in Watsonville, near Watsonville Community Hospital.

Got hires, promotions or departures to report? Send them to news@lookoutlocal.com with the subject line “Career changes.”

Save the date

  • Friday – Sunday: Shift4Impact — an exclusive weekend focused on women in entrepreneurship. Details here.
  • Thursday, Oct 12: Job fair at Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz from 4 to 6 p.m. More details here.

Add your business or networking events to Lookout’s free public calendar, BOLO. Click here to add your event.

Looking at the numbers

  • 90 years: That’s how long Soquel’s Bargetto Winery has been in business, making it one of the longest continuously operating wineries in the state.
  • $131 million: That’s the value of Joby Aviation’s contract with the U.S. Air Force through the agency’s AFWERX Agility Prime program, an initiative aimed at accelerating development of the commercial eVTOL aircraft industry.

Business news worth reading

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Jessica M. Pasko has been writing professionally for almost two decades.She cut her teeth in journalism as a reporter for the Associated Press in her native Albany, NY, where she covered everything from...