Ghost franchises like Buddy V's Cake Slice and MrBeast Burger are becoming more common in Santa Cruz County.
Ghost franchises like Buddy V’s Cake Slice and MrBeast Burger are becoming more common in Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Ghost kitchens, teen dental health in focus, jail inmate death & local author’s ‘rambles’

Greetings, Lookout friends. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 16, and the forecast is a familiar one for summer in Santa Cruz County: clouds to sun, temperatures ranging from the 70s to the 90s.

Trust me when I say there’s lots new to explore on Lookout; if you’d rather explore on your own, start with these links.
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Food delivery has become a big part of life since the COVID pandemic hit, and Lily Belli has a look at the proliferation of virtual restaurants — seemingly new brands whose offerings are prepared in kitchens at established restaurants like Denny’s and elsewhere around Santa Cruz County.

From Live Oak, Hillary Ojeda reports on a move by local health and nonprofit officials to focus on teen dental health after a report showed that Santa Cruz County teens are missing school because of problems with their teeth at a rate more than double the state average.

Hillary also has news from the county jail, where an inmate’s death over the weekend has prompted an investigation by the sheriff’s office.

And the latest work from Santa Cruz author, artist and psychotherapist Lauren Crux is the topic for Wallace Baine, who talked to Crux about her collection of postcard-like “rambles,” which she’ll discuss next week at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Wednesday’s headlines are also dishing out the latest in Santa Cruz County food and drink news from Lily Belli, so stay tuned.

Wait, it’s Denny’s? The rise of virtual restaurants and the mysterious origins of your delivery order

Denny's Burger Den
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Since the pandemic delivery boom, virtual brands like The Meltdown from Denny’s and ghost franchises like MrBeast Burger are becoming more common on delivery apps like DoorDash. While these delivery-only virtual restaurants support chains and local restaurants alike with thousands of dollars in additional revenue, there are issues with consumer transparency. Lily Belli reports.

MORE FROM LILY: Five-star dive bars: Max Turigliatto is breathing new life into Santa Cruz’s watering holes

As dental woes drive school absences, Santa Cruz County leaders put focus on teen oral health

Monica Morales, director of Santa Cruz County's Health Services Agency, speaking at Dientes Community Dental in Live Oak.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A new report showing that 30% of Santa Cruz County teens missed school in 2020 because of problems with their teeth — more than double the state average — has local health and nonprofit officials digging into why it’s a problem here and seeking solutions. Details here from Hillary Ojeda.

HOW I GOT MY JOB: After struggling in school herself, Cristine Chopra now helps students find their path

Volunteer Center August 2023


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Food Truck Friday @Skypark
Mountain Film on Tour Santa Cruz @Rio Theatre
Roosevelt @The Catalyst

Out of The Darkness Santa Cruz County Walk @Skypark
Community Crafters-Basic Earring Making Workshop @Boulder Creek Branch Library
Farm Dinner @1481 San Miguel Canyon Rd.
Big Mountain @Moe’s Alley
MaMuse, WildChoir & The Feelings Parade @Rio Theatre

Halloween Pop-up Event @Little Trends
Rail & Trail Festival @Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
David Luning @Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Marc E. Bassy @The Catalyst

Lots of food for thought as we hit hump day, and you’ll definitely want to keep tabs on Lookout to stay current with Santa Cruz County news and views. Give us a follow on social media — Lookout is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads. We also offer breaking news alerts via text and email in addition to all our other newsletters (coming Thursday, for instance, is Wallace Baine’s Weekender), and you can sign up here for all that.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Thanks as always for reading — I appreciate you.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz