Kiss Catering has successfully served the Santa Cruz area for 18 years. Last year, they were even awarded the Business of the Year award in Aptos by the Aptos Chamber of Commerce. But husband-and-wife owners Scott and Sandy Dexel did something else of note last year: they opened Kiss Café. It’s actually a cafeteria for Fox Shox in Scotts Valley, but it’s open to the public. Scott talked to us about their new spot.
You’ve been doing catering for 18 years. Why’d you open the café?
SCOTT DEXEL: It wasn’t originally going to be open to the public—we just needed a much larger kitchen for the catering. Fox Shox approached us to open a cafeteria for them. Being that it’s a cafeteria, it’s a strange animal. It’s completely different than running a restaurant. We have a really killer salad bar, burgers, stuff like that. There are a lot of pastries, desserts. When I went to the city to find out about zoning, I was required to pay all the dues as though it was a restaurant. So that’s why the café. The previous owner of the business had opened it to the public, and that’s sort of how the café started.
Does this change the catering business?
No. We just outgrew our old kitchen. The dish room here is two feet larger than our old kitchen was. It’s made it so we don’t have to work so much. We’d still do large events out of our old kitchen, but they’d be hauled in with ice chests to keep fresh. Now I have a walk-in freezer. It saves a lot of time for me. It was a lot of time wasted. The café itself seats 130 people, and it has a patio that seats about 70. We use the venue for events outside of hours.
What kind of food do you serve at the café?
Right now we offer five different sandwiches. We do a tri-tip sandwich, which is a grilled tri-tip with caper mayo and roasted red peppers. It’s the number one [item] we’ve used for the catering for a long time. We also do a grilled eggplant sandwich, which is grilled eggplant with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, a white basil aioli and provolone cheese. We have a great burger. It’s a half pound angus grass-fed burger. We do sweet potato fries which are savory, as opposed to your typical sweet potato fry. I put garlic salt on them. We also have the gourmet peanut brittle that we sell out of here. We do Italian chili, sea salt, curry, bacon. We need a way to make it in larger quantity. We’re trying to find a process that doesn’t blow my shoulders out.
915 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, kisscatering.com, 419-6627.