Soquel’s beloved Silver Spur to reopen under new owners, bringing back the menu from its glory days

Father and son Juan Valencia (right) and Daniel Govea will soon take over at popular mid-county cafe the Silver Spur.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Juan Valencia, a cook at the Silver Spur under longtime owner Linda Hopper, is taking over the Soquel standby along with son Daniel Govea and help from the rest of the family, who run downtown Santa Cruz taqueria El Huarache. “Our [menu] is going back to being more homestyle,” says Govea. “We’ll make everything from scratch daily, our soups, our sandwiches.”

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Out-of-towners have likely never heard of the place, but for many people in Santa Cruz County — especially those who live in Live Oak, Capitola, Soquel or Aptos — the Silver Spur is something special.

Under the guiding hand of the late Linda Hopper, the Spur was a community touchstone, a model of stability in the volatile restaurant business, and a go-to spot for a satisfying and leisurely breakfast and a tasty lunch. A change in ownership in 2020 brought changes to the menu, but June brings another change to the Spur — new owners and the return of the old menu, bringing back such nostalgic favorites as Paul’s Potatoes, the Cowboy Omelette and Hoppy’s Burrito.

Father-and-son restaurateurs Juan Valencia and Daniel Govea are poised to take ownership of the Silver Spur on June 1, purchasing it from German Lopez, and their first order of business is to reestablish the familiar menu.

“Our [menu] is going back to being more homestyle,” said Govea, who, with his family, now owns and operates the downtown Santa Cruz taqueria El Huarache. “We’ll make everything from scratch daily, our soups, our sandwiches.”

The new owners, in fact, represent a return of the old Spur’s DNA under Hopper, the popular restaurateur who also owned and operated Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe in Seabright. She died in 2022. Valencia worked as a cook at the Spur for about a decade.

“A lot of people know this guy,” said Govea, pointing a thumb at his father sitting nearby. “A lot of people, they knew that Juan the cook was always there.”

“We feel very good about the things we’re hearing from people,” said Valencia.

The two new owners said that the new menu won’t merely be similar to the menu during the Hopper years — it will be exactly the same. “We’re keeping everything,” said Valencia.

The Silver Spur's new family ownership team
Juan Valencia (right) and his family — son Daniel, wife Juliet and granddaughter Sophia. Juan once worked at the Spur under longtime owner the late Linda Hopper.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What does new ownership at the Spur mean for El Huarache, a popular spot in downtown Santa Cruz for people who love Mexican food? The small taqueria at the Metro bus station will continue on for a few months under the guidance of Juan’s wife, Juliet. By the end of 2023, said Govea, the family plans to close the taqueria in advance of the demolition of the current buildings at the Metro. Construction of a new Metro bus station is set to begin in the first quarter of 2024. Govea said that the new bus station will have retail spaces, but he and his family have not decided whether they will return to downtown with a new El Huarache, or focus just on the Silver Spur.

What will continue, however, is the family’s involvement in local farmers markets. After working in kitchens for years, Valencia and his wife broke out on their own 20 years ago, selling their food at the Watsonville farmers market.

They expanded to other farmers markets, and their success in those venues convinced them to open their own taqueria in Salinas. They ran the original El Huarache in Salinas for about five years. The shop at the Santa Cruz Metro has been open since 2019. And the family is still selling food from Juliet’s upbringing in Mexico City — huaraches, sopes, quesadillas — at three or four farmers markets every week, making it a family endeavor with Juan and Juliet, along with Daniel and their other son, Felix.

“And there’s Mama Santa,” said Valencia, referencing the family’s matriarch. “She’s the one with the recipes.”

As for the rebirth of the Silver Spur, the restaurant is tentatively set to reopen June 1 — subject to the county health department’s permitting process. Valencia and Govea are doing no hiring, since they are inheriting the staff from the previous owner. And Valencia said he is talking to Linda Hopper’s family to come up with something to memorialize her contributions to the Spur and to the Santa Cruz restaurant scene.

“We’re talking about a special mention in the menu, or in the restaurant,” he said. “We’ll try to get something to [remind people] about how much she helped us.”

The Silver Spur, at 2650 Soquel Dr. in Soquel, will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily beginning next Thursday, June 1.

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