Quick Take:

In her weekly roundup of news and notes from the Santa Cruz County business community, Jessica M. Pasko goes inside the makeover at Ocean Street’s Hotel Paradox, updates New Leaf Market’s plans to leave downtown and more.

Hotel Paradox undergoes dramatic transformation, with ambitious new chef on board

inside the remodeled Hotel Paradox on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz

As the local tourism industry continues its post-pandemic recovery, one downtown Santa Cruz hotel is set to reveal a whole new look — complete with a revamped restaurant concept and a chef with dreams of obtaining Santa Cruz County’s first Michelin star.

Hotel Paradox on Ocean Street has redesigned its lobby and bar/restaurant areas with a nature-inspired motif that “leans into the forest elements,” according to hotel spokesperson, Kevinie Woo. Core to the design goal was to create a space with elements that would “make you pause and think twice” and to establish areas for conversation and community.

“Hotel Paradox has always been a place for people to connect, both locals and out-of-town guests,” says Julie Ramey, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “This redesign was really a passion project intended to build human connection in a whole new way.”

Hotel Paradox’s glow-up is just one of 10 major hotel renovations and builds that have occurred in the county in the past year or so. These efforts are key to helping attract more visitors to the area, according to local tourism officials. Numbers from this past summer showed that hotel occupancy rates were up compared to the previous summer, even with an expanded number of facilities.

Read my full piece here.

ICYMI: New Leaf planning move of downtown store

New Leaf has occupied its downtown Santa Cruz location at Pacific and Soquel avenues since 1996.
New Leaf has occupied its downtown Santa Cruz location at Pacific and Soquel avenues since 1996. Credit: Via New Leaf Community Markets

New Leaf Community Markets will vacate its Pacific Avenue location in 2025 and move to a larger space in Gateway Plaza on River Street, the company announced last week.

The new location offers 29,000 square feet compared to just 9,000 square feet at its present spot. That’s more room for expanded offerings, including a larger produce section and a bigger meat and seafood department, according to brand manager Lindsay Gizdich.

Meanwhile, New Leaf also plans to move its Capitola store up the street to the King’s Plaza Shopping Center next year. The store will take over the space vacated by Lucky supermarket.

Read my full piece here.

Santa Cruz seeks operator for downtown kiosk

The City of Santa Cruz is still seeking an operator for the kiosk near the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Locust Street downtown. Preference will be given to tenants who can sign a two-plus-year lease for the 60-square-foot space. Applications received by Nov. 15 will get priority review. For more details, go here.

ICYMI: Last month, Zen Musubi took over the kiosk by New Leaf.

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

  • Rite Aid to close: The Soquel Avenue location of Rite Aid, next to Whole Foods, will close Nov. 8, according to a company spokesperson. The closure follows the company’s bankruptcy filing.
  • Verve Coffee Roasters takes national award: Roast Magazine selected Verve as “macro roaster” of the year, for companies roasting more than 100,000 pounds of beans annually.
  • Driscoll’s announces new CEO: Soren Bjorn will take the reins as CEO of the Watsonville-based berry company in January. Bjorn, the current president of Driscoll’s of the Americas, takes over from current CEO J. Miles Reiter, who is retiring but will become executive chairman of the company.
  • Cruz Foam lauded by Time magazine: Santa Cruz-based Cruz Foam’s ecofriendly cooler was selected as one of Time’s 200 best inventions of 2023. Cruz Cool is made of chitin, which comes from shrimp shells, and can keep goods frozen for 48 hours.

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

Looking at the numbers

  • 5.1%: That was the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Santa Cruz County in September, according to the state Employment Development Department. The county’s rate remained unchanged from the prior month.
  • 2 years: That’s the milestone Santa Cruz-based Lume Six recently hit. Margaux Elliott launched the line of sports bras in 2021 after growing frustrated with available options. Since then, Lume Six products have received accolades including being selected as an “editor’s choice” pick in Outdoor Magazine’s 2023 buyers guide.
  • 107: The number of homes sold in Santa Cruz County in September. That’s down 15% from August, as Max Chun reports here.

Save the date

  • Sunday: Lookout’s Lily Belli will host a behind-the-scenes event for Lookout members at Santa Cruz Cider Company’s Watsonville facility. Attendees will learn all about the history and technique of cider-making locally. More details here.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1: Vita Collective, the Closet Shopper and Live Happier Wellness will host a mixer with other local business owners from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at The Closet Shopper at 1202 41st Ave. in Capitola.

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

Business news worth reading

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.

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...