Sotola owners
Food & Drink

Sotola Bar and Grill Opens on the Esplanade

It’s a little bit Soquel, it’s a little bit Capitola

Ashley and Adam Bernardi, owners of the new Capitola restaurant Sotola Bar and Grill. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

In order to understand the name of the new Capitola restaurant Sotola Bar and Grill, you may need a little history lesson. Luckily, the restaurant has a 1929 newspaper clipping on the wall that describes how Soquel and Capitola were to become one town—Sotola.

It never happened, mostly because of the Great Depression. Husband and wife Ashley and Adam Bernardi, who are first-time restaurant owners, loved this piece of history so much, they named their restaurant after it. They also enlisted longtime Santa Cruz chef Anthony Kresge, for whom this is a homecoming after seven years at Santa Clara’s Epicurean Group. Ashley told us everything else we needed to know about their new restaurant.

Why did you choose Anthony Kresge?  

ASHLEY BERNARDI: He has 25 years of experience. He’s a creative and open-minded chef, but he also serves what the community is asking for in terms of ingredients and how he presents things. We really admire how he can take what we’re asking him to do and turn it into something that everyone can enjoy. He’s so passionate about cooking and teaching people about the culinary arts. And he loves what he does. He was just a perfect fit for us.

How would you describe your menu?

Mostly it’s farm-to-fork, keeping it as local as possible. We’re not going to change the menu every season per se, but more what’s in season in terms of our vegetables. The fish, we’ll always have a “catch of the day.” One of our servers said it was like “blue-collar gourmet.” It’s like fine-dining food, but in a more relaxed, casual setting. You’re getting the freshest. Everything is made from scratch, down to the ketchup and mustard. It’s pretty simple. It’s not intimidating food. We have soup, fish, chicken, burgers, and sandwiches. We have some unique dishes like an “Indichimi,” which is a mix between a chimichanga and Indian tandoori chicken. We have onion hay. It’s like onion rings, tiny little thin strips of onion that are fried.

Your restaurant has a very home-y look about it

We like to host events. Everyone comes to our house on the Fourth of July, on New Year’s. We’ve always been the hosting house. The tables we have are handmade tables that my husband made. He’s actually a general contractor by trade. We got raw cypress, and he built them; sanded them down, epoxied them. We wanted to put our handcrafted touch on everything, and put a lot of greenery, and natural feel with neutral tones.


231 Esplanade, Suite 102, Capitola, 854-2800.

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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