Volunteers from Meals on Wheels in action.
(Via Community Bridges)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers, Reef Dog’s supper club & dreams of spring planting

Hello eaters, Jessica M. Pasko here! While Lily is out on maternity leave, I’m pitching in on the latest local food news. A little about me — I’m a writer and a native of upstate New York, living in Santa Cruz for over a decade. Our rich food culture is just one of the many things I love about our region, and I’m especially interested in the stories of the people who grow, serve and make the food we eat. Now, let’s dig in!

Volunteers wanted as Meals on Wheels prepares for next phase

Meals on Wheels, which has served more than 10 million meals to older Santa Cruz County residents in almost 50 years on the scene, is facing some uncertainty after being asked to move from its headquarters in a building belonging to the Live Oak School District. The program could also use some helping hands. Read more here.

Reef Dog Deli introduces new supper club offering

Chef Anthony Kresge is offering three-course supper-club-style meals through his Reef Dog Deli in Capitola.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“It’s a straight-up chef-made dinner, better than what you can make at home,” promises Reef Dog’s Anthony Kresge of the three-course meals for two, four or six, available for delivery or pickup at his Capitola Village deli on Wednesdays at the cost of around $25 per person. Read more here.

Around the county in local restaurant news

…Since Planet Fresh closed its Cedar Street doors in December after 40 years in business, the location has hosted rotating pop-ups, including Yakitori Toriman, Efi’s Dutch-Indo, and Dead Food Co. While owner Gannon Akin, who also owns the Red Room Cocktail Lounge next door, says he’s still determining long-term plans for the Whats Poppin’ space, but for now, patrons can enjoy a cocktail at the Red and an array of delicious treats. In other restaurant news, chef Jessica Yarr’s much-awaited The Grove Cafe and Bakery is hosting its soft opening Friday. As Lily detailed earlier this year, the new spot will be open from morning to evenings, with a focus on “healthy stuff with some indulgences with a lot of plant-based food.” Also new to the dining scene this week is Aroma Restaurant, which has taken over the former Tyrolean Inn location in Ben Lomond. It’s officially opening Wednesday, promising a “California cuisine” menu inspired by its owners’ Mexican and Italian heritage.


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Inside Bad Animal in downtown Santa Cruz
Inside Bad Animal in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Bad Animal is no one-trick pony. The downtown spot combines an impressive collection of books with a curated selection of natural wines and high-end food. As Wallace Baine recently detailed in his Sunday column, that’s no accident. Co-owner Andrew Sivak has thoughtfully created a bookstore that many book lovers could only dream of. The food is just as inspiring. Don’t miss Lily’s previous review of the menu being turned out by Lalita Kaewsawang of Hanloh.


235,675 — That’s the number of meals that Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County served to 1,450 seniors in 2022. Meals are delivered to homes and served at several sites throughout the county.

“At the time, the majority of the crops being grown were things like sugar beets, onions, strawberries, peppers, cabbages. These were long days out in the sun; Salinas can get very hot in the summer. It’s pretty intense physical labor that people would do for lifetimes.” James Nakahara, a Santa Cruz resident, speaking recently with WBUR’s “Here & Now about his grandparents’ experience as Japanese American farmworkers in Salinas before they were sent to an incarceration camp at the start of World War II.


… my spring garden. I’ve been leafing through my dog-eared Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog, perusing the latest newsletter from Felton’s Renee’s Garden and checking out the upcoming classes at Love Apple Farms. I don’t have a yard, but I always do a container garden with a selection of lettuces, a variety of herbs, a couple of tomato plants and a few vegetables. It might not yield much — most of the time, just enough for my lunchtime salads — but it gives me such pleasure to grow, pick and eat my own food.


The buzzy edible insect protein trend is gaining traction in the West (Modern Farmer)
Shocking, ‘impossible’ gas bills push restaurants to brink of closure (Los Angeles Times)
Where did all the merlot go? (Wall Street Journal)

Happy eating!

~ Jessica