Restaurants Honey B Market, Mad Yolks and Alderwood Pacific all plan to open in downtown Santa Cruz in December. In Aptos, Bonny Doon Vineyard aims to open its new tasting room in the village before the end of the year.
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Between supply shortages, staffing issues and inflation, food businesses are facing more challenges than ever before, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing some entrepreneurs down. In fact, Santa Cruz County residents can look forward to at least four significant new openings of places to eat and drink before the end of the year. In downtown Santa Cruz alone, a café with a plant-forward menu, an egg-focused breakfast spot and a casual-ish restaurant with a fine-dining sibling all plan to open this month. In Aptos, a familiar winery is touching down in the village.
Honey B Market
Address: 1005 Cedar St., Santa Cruz
Opening: Dec. 13
Inside her flower-filled café on Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz, owner Katie Belanger is a busy bee. Not only did she hand-paint the joyful flowers that cover every wall, the artist and chef is also laying out a stained glass floral mosaic on a communal table, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a final push to open the café and putting the finishing touches on her menu board of plant-based foods. It’s no wonder when she shares that she drew the name of her new café from her family nickname, “honey B,” as well as a tribute to the vital role bees play in our food systems.
At Honey B Market, which is set to open Dec. 13, Belanger will serve an entirely plant-based menu that features many of her own fermented foods, including sourdough breads, kimchi, drinks like kombucha and water kefir and tempeh made with different kinds of beans and seeds. The star of the menu will be a seasonal Huni Bowl — “huni” stands for “Honest Unique Nourishing Ingredients.” The winter bowl is a coconut lemongrass curry with sunflower-lentil tempeh, roasted kabocha squash and garlicky kale over coconut purple rice with shiitake kimchi and avocado. Belanger will also serve baked goods like sweet and savory galettes made with laminated vegan croissant dough, gluten-free pastries, cookies and cakes, as well as homemade drinks like mango lassi with cashew-coconut yogurt, mushroom-fortified hot chocolate and chai with homemade cashew or sunflower milk and honey-sweetened water kefir.
For coffee, Belanger is partnering with Eddie Alaniz of Coffee Conspiracy Co., a coffee pop-up that has been a fixture on East Cliff Drive for the past two years. Alaniz will permanently park his coffee cart inside the café to bring Honey B customers their caffeine fix via his small-batch craft coffee and espresso.
Belanger operated a vegetarian-friendly café in Santa Barbara called The Honey B for three years, and was planning to expand to a larger space when the pandemic hit in 2020. After a period of self-reflection, she eventually decided to close, and relocated to Santa Cruz just because it “felt right” about a year ago.
Offering healthy foods is a priority for Belanger. Instead of using refined sugar, she sweetens drinks and treats with either dates, honey or maple syrup — like her date-filled sourdough cinnamon rolls with probiotic cashew icing. “My vision behind Honey B is to connect people back to their relationship with food as medicine,” says Belanger. “We use traditional fermentation practices and nutrient-dense ingredients to provide healthy, quick options for the community.”
Doon to Earth
Address: 10 Parade St., Aptos
Opening: early December
There have been few transmissions from the Dooniverse since Randall Grahm closed Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Davenport tasting room at the end of 2019. Over the past three years, the eclectic oenophile has focused much of his attention on his experimental 400-acre vineyard, Popelouchum, in San Juan Bautista. But last fall Grahm announced that he is touching down in Aptos and planned to establish a new tasting room in the increasingly hip Aptos Village.
Grahm is teaming up with his longtime winemaking partner Nicole Walsh, whose own winery, Ser, already has a tasting room in the village. Together, they are rebranding the Ser space as Doon to Earth, and both Ser Winery and Bonny Doon Vineyard wines will be available to taste. Both Grahm and Walsh specialize in progressive winemaking styles and lesser-known grape varieties, like cabernet pfeffer and sagrantino, and will also offer rare wines from Popelechum when its limited quantities are available. Grahm also promises “expanded al fresco seating under a serene pergola” in an email to his Doonstahs. “We want the tasting experience to be fun and of course, safe.”
The tasting room opening is set for sometime in December, although no date has yet been released. In the meantime, Bonny Doon’s beloved wine club, D.E.W.N., reopened in late November. Grahm launched his “Distinctive Explorative Wine Network” — a riff on the Cold War-era Distant Early Warning System, said to detect flying saucers — with two club options of either six or 12 bottles allotted twice per year. This latest iteration of the club will feature Ser and, occasionally, Popelouchum estate wines in addition to Bonny Doon Vineyard’s own label. The first holiday shipment will be available to pick up at the new tasting room once it opens.
Address: 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz
Opening: December TBD
Since Alderwood opened in downtown Santa Cruz four years ago, it has become the first restaurant in the city to earn a Michelin nod for its excellent service and haute fine-dining cuisine, which focuses on premium dry-aged cuts of meat, seasonal sides and a seafood raw bar. Its parent company, Santa Cruz Sky, is planning on opening several additional restaurants in Santa Cruz County next year, but its most anticipated new sibling will be Alderwood Pacific, set to open just a few blocks away from Alderwood Santa Cruz before the end of the year.
Anyone who has strolled down Pacific Avenue in the past few months might have noticed a new coat of Alderwood’s trademark cobalt blue paint on the exterior of the restaurant space that previously housed Snap Taco, and, before that, Assembly. Inside, Alderwood Pacific aims to offer a more casual experience than Alderwood Santa Cruz. Alderwood executive chef Jeffrey Wall is creating a menu that focuses on sandwiches, burgers and salads, with house-mixed cocktails available on draft as well as beer and wine. Two beloved and less-expensive items on the Alderwood Santa Cruz menu, the Alderwood cheeseburger with onion jam and the Caesar salad with garlic croutons, will make their way over to the Alderwood Pacific menu, which will also feature a raw bar of fresh oysters, crustaceans and house-made accoutrements. All of this will be executed by an as-yet-unnamed sous-chef under the guidance of Wall.
Alderwood Pacific boasts a spacious interior, private dining room and a patio area that the Santa Cruz Sky team feels is ideal for events, and will offer the space for large parties. While no official opening day has been set, executive director of operations Sam Woods says her team plans to open before the end of the year.
Address: 1411 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz
The north end of downtown Santa Cruz is gaining a new breakfast and brunch spot that focuses on — what else? — eggs. Mad Yolks (previously called Yolked) is going into Buttercup Cakes and Farmhouse Frosting’s old space on the same block as the Santa Cruz Cinema. The new owners are brothers Henry and Peter Wong, who also opened Poke House just up the street five years ago. The Wongs have remodeled the interior with a cozy, modern aesthetic, but decided to leave the quirky moon mosaic at the front door that will be familiar to anyone who visited Buttercup.
The Mad Yolks menu focuses on comforting, egg-centric items, like a fried chicken sandwich topped with an egg and breakfast sandwiches on homemade brioche buns. Many dishes will also feature an Asian twist, like the tater tots and loco moco, both of which will be topped with sweet, mild Japanese curry. It will also offer matcha and refreshing Japanese iced teas made from real fruit, as well as fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Mad Yolks will have only counter service, but the Wongs say the fast-casual restaurant won’t compromise the quality. They hope to create a welcoming atmosphere befitting a breakfast joint. “Our motto is, ‘We’re all good eggs here,’” says Peter. While you’re there, don’t miss the painting of the egg with the double yolk — a sly nod to the two brothers, who are identical twins.