What Joe Biden ate during his visit to Santa Cruz County

President Joe Biden and his motorcade headed to Capitola Village from Watsonville.
(Via City of Watsonville)

The president, notorious for his love of ice cream, did indeed sample a Santa Cruz favorite, and his team also chowed down on some local pizza amid the whirlwind tour that included stops in Capitola Village and Seacliff State Beach.

This story was originally featured in this week’s Lily Belli on Food newsletter. Be first the first to hear about food and drink news in Santa Cruz County — sign up for Lily’s email newsletter here and text alerts here.

… When President Joe Biden visited Santa Cruz County last Thursday, he was the first sitting president to do so in more than 30 years. He was here to tour the destruction wrought by early January’s intense storms, and while I don’t want to make light of the damage to local businesses and homes, I was curious — would he have time to grab a bite to eat?

During his short visit — less than four hours — Biden visited the storm-wrecked restaurants on the Capitola Esplanade, including Paradise Beach Grille and Zelda’s On The Beach. He met with Chuck Hammers, owner of Pizza My Heart; My Thai Beach owner Dominic King; Chuck Maier and Ally Gottlieb, co-owners of Paradise Beach Grille; Patrick Lynn, owner of Bay Bar and Grill; The Sand Bar owners Minna and Jeff Lantis; and Jill Ealy and John Ealy Jr., owners of Zelda’s, as well as Zelda’s kitchen manager, Josh Whitby.

Surely, he worked up an appetite. Would the president stop for lunch — or at least some ice cream?

I wondered whether Biden, a notable ice cream lover, would take the opportunity to visit The Penny Ice Creamery to meet owners Zach Davis and Kendra Baker in person. In 2010, Davis and Baker created a YouTube video that thanked then-President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an economic stimulus package in the wake of the global financial crisis, through which they were able to secure a $250,000 loan to open their first artisanal ice cream shop on Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz. Biden personally called Davis and Baker to thank them for the video, saying that he “was coming for ice cream.”

That visit never materialized, but it seems Biden got his ice cream fix anyway, this time from another Santa Cruz-based ice cream shop — Marianne’s Ice Cream. Biden’s team enjoyed ice cream sandwiches from the iconic local ice cream shop as well as pizza from Woodstock’s Pizza in Santa Cruz during the visit to Seacliff State Beach. “We were happy to provide hospitality — with help from our friends @WoodstocksCruz and @MariannesSC — to the staff that facilitated @POTUS’ visit to Seacliff State Beach on Thurs.,” Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks said on Twitter.

And yes, the president actually ate some ice cream, FOSCSP clarified. “He had chocolate chip and shared a cooler of ice cream sandwiches on Air Force One!”

A media report confirmed that Marianne’s ice cream sandwiches were enjoyed on the flight home, too, saying that Air Force Once touched down at Joint Base Andrews just before midnight. The uneventful flight home was “brightened by distribution of unfeasibly large ice cream sandwiches after dinner from Marianne’s of Santa Cruz — mint and chocolate.”