EATERS DIGEST: 11th Hour storms the Westside, what’s up with Beer Thirty expansion & cheese is a superfood!

The inside of the new 11th Hour Coffee includes a live tree growing in the middle of it.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Some words of cheese wisdom from a Staff of Life fromager, an 11th Hour Coffee update, some fun events for the weekend, the Café Gratitude controversy and a few rumors about Beer Thirty’s new locations in Midtown and up in the San Lorenzo Valley.

Does your year also feel like it’s racing to a close? With just seven weeks left of 2021, I’m simultaneously looking forward to a more normal holiday season and reflecting on another wild year.


In that spirit, Lookout is accepting nominations for our series of stories on unsung heroes, particularly those who have helped us through these unprecedented times. More on that below.

Also in this week’s Eaters Digest, we have some words of cheese wisdom from Staff of Life fromager Cesar Olivares, an update on 11th Hour Coffee’s new Westside location, and several fun-looking events for the weekend, as well as a controversy surrounding Café Gratitude and a few rumors about Beer Thirty’s new locations (yes, plural). Read on.


The owners of Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House in Soquel and Beer Mule in Watsonville seem to be playing their next moves very, very close to their chest as many calls, emails and messages about an opening date for their new Midtown location have gone unanswered.

But sources close to Lookout confirm that their as-yet-unopened Soquel Drive location will pay homage to the Wienerschnitzel that previously occupied the lot with the name Schnitz. Amber Turpin reported that they will definitely have chili dogs on the menu as well, in addition to a competitive draft and bottle list.

The new Beer Thirty location in Midtown, to be called Schnitz
The new Beer Thirty location in Midtown, to be called Schnitz in honor of the longtime hotdog stand that stood there, remains in fermentation mode.
(Mark Conley / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Our sources also confirm that the Beer Thirty team has its eye on the Felton Trout Farm Inn as a fourth location. A social hub for the San Lorenzo Valley since the early 1900s, the building suffered a devastating fire in 2016 and has been rebuilt from the ground up. If my sources are correct, a brewhouse could be the perfect business to bring life back to this historic location with a swimming pool.

Last weekend, a clash between Café Gratitude owner Matthew Manzo and several ex-employees spilled over onto social media. Former staff members called for a boycott of the downtown restaurant, known for its plant-based fare that guests order via affirmations like ‘I am Abundant,’ over what they believe was a slew of unfair firings. Read more about the feud here.

As 2021 draws to a close, the Lookout team is reflecting on the people in our lives that got us through another strange year. Who is that person in your life? A beloved teacher who handled another year of COVID regulations with kindness and ease? A neighbor who made the neighborhood feel connected? A cashier at the local grocery store who always had a story to tell that made your day?

Specifically, we’re looking for people who rarely, if ever, get time in the spotlight.

If you know someone like this, please write in to nominate them for our year-end project, which will highlight some of the wonderful people who make up our community. Send suggestions with a brief description of why they should be celebrated to

Eat this

Staff of Life stocks more than 300 cheeses, and Cesar Olivares has tried them all.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Last week, after reading my story on Staff of Life fromager Cesar Olivares and the stores’ incredible cheese selection, a reader wrote to me to ask how Olivares stays fit while indulging in all that cheese. Fair question, and in fact Olivares mentioned something of that nature during our interview.

“People are afraid of cheese sometimes. It’s coming out of that ‘80s fear of fats,” said Olivares. “It got a bad reputation for being decadent or bad for you, but it’s a perfect protein. It’s a superfood that people debate is even cooler than eggs. Eggs are a pretty perfect food. Cheese itself is preserved protein — it’s just milk that’s rotting very slowly.”

Cesar Olivares, a world-class cheese expert who personally tastes and selects each of the 300-plus cheeses Staff of Life...

You heard it here first, folks — cheese is a superfood! Go forth and eat cheese knowing you are making a healthy choice! On that note, Olivares selected 10 excellent cheeses that would make a great substitution for your post-workout smoothie.

11th Hour Coffee has opened a second location on the Westside in what was once Kelly’s Bakery. A long renovation process has transformed the space beautifully to reflect 11th Hour’s natural aesthetic — there’s literally a live tree growing in the center of the café. The coffee shop features its house-roasted brews and has a full menu of breakfast items including pastries from Kelly’s French Bakery.

What used to be Kelly's French Bakery is now the new 11th Hour Coffee at the Swift Street Courtyard.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

11th Hour has also added lots of wooden booths, benches and tables to the patio, so there’s plenty of outside seating. This is the second location opened by owners and brothers Joel and Brayden Estby after their popular Center Street location inside the Food Lounge. If you go, be sure to try the Campfire Mocha, which comes garnished with a toasted marshmallow.


Wine lovers, this is an action-packed weekend for you. On Saturday starting at noon, sip on locally featured wines and beers while shopping at boutiques in Capitola Village at the Capitola Sip & Stroll. Then on Sunday, head to Pacific Avenue for the Downtown Santa Cruz Fall Wine Walk.

Guests stop at participating local businesses to taste wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains and beyond. This event is from 2-5 p.m. and guests must show proof of vaccination. Check-in is at Soif Restaurant & Wine Shop. Both events are 21-plus (obviously) and advance registration is recommended. Remember to hydrate!

Hanloh Thai Food and Golden Roots Kitchen are co-hosting the Fall Flavors & Makers Market on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m in Scotts Valley. The market features live music and more than a dozen local artists featuring crafts ranging from textiles, florals and jewelry to pottery and leather goods. Delicious food will be provided by chefs Lalita Kaewsawang of Hanloh and Melanie Geist of Golden Roots, as well as SV Dough to Door and the Wild Bite.

Saturday, Staff of Life is offering complimentary pumpkin pie tasting at its Santa Cruz location from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and pumpkin pie tasting plus Thanksgiving crafts for kids at its Watsonville location from 9-11 a.m. Stop in to ring in the holiday season. Heck, why not grab your holiday pies while you’re there? You know you can freeze pumpkin pie, right?