For many years now I have met up with Katya on Fridays at Kelly’s. We walk down to West Cliff and head toward the lighthouse and back, savoring the sounds of the waves and the view of surfers plying the sunset. Then we hang out for a while with glasses of white wine in the courtyard.
Along with many other huge changes in our lives right now, that Friday tradition is over. That’s because the café of Kelly’s French Bakery will not be reopening.
“We’ve been at it for forty years,” Kelly Porter Sanchez reminded me. The founder of Kelly’s and her husband Mark have decided to “take a little pause.” What that means is that the indoor cafe, the popular courtyard area and the kitchen will no longer be the way so many of us remember them: Countless lunches, meetings, apres-yoga lattés, gorgeous pastries, and that inimitable chandeliered interior adorned by large artworks and that charming little corner stove.
Kelly and Mark decided to keep the wholesale part, supplying breads and pastries to Bay area groceries, cafes, and restaurants. Kelly’s French Bakery also has added a “speakeasy” bread and pastry pick up from the back of the bakery at door number 31. A list of what’s available, including the addictive pain au chocolate, is on the website.
Even though the Kelly’s name won’t change on the bakery items, that welcoming, attractive-but-casual ambience of the cafe/courtyard will never be the same. “We want to find a good operator for the cafe, kitchen, and courtyard,” Sanchez tells me. “We almost had an operator lined up and then all of this happened,” she added, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine.
Sanchez says that she and her husband, who own the building housing Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery and others, “want a good fit with our existing tenants.” She’s confident they’ll find the right match.
Meanwhile her general manager of 30 years, Javier Ortiz, maintains the bread and pastry operation. “We wanted him to stay. He’s been incredible all these years,” Sanchez says.
Sanchez regrets that the café couldn’t throw a proper celebration to commemorate this transition. “But in two years when this is all over, we’ll have a big event,” she promises.
Meanwhile, the couple is looking ahead, planning more events in the courtyard, pop-ups, and dinner markets. “And the bicycle trail is getting up and running. So we’ll be ready to do a rail trail thing,” Sanchez says.
She won’t call it a retirement, but she admits that she and Mark want to take things a bit easier, refresh a bit, and dream up some new plans for the corner of Swift and Ingalls. Thanks for the sweet memories!
Kelly’s French Bakery, 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz. 831-423-9059, kellysfrenchbakery.com.
At Mentone, general manager Chris Sullivan tells me that David Kinch’s pizza palace is open for outdoor seating in their parking lot, “serving a menu of cocktails plus summer food items, noon to 4pm on weekends throughout the month of June.” As for the dining room, he says, “We will be regrouping our team to complete our extensive training regarding menu, drinks, wine, and service. We are shooting for a July opening but will see how the next couple of weeks play out.”
Mentone, 174 Aptos Village Way, Aptos. 708-1174, mentonerestaurant.com.
Gabriella Cafe opened last week for generously-spaced seating on the sidewalk and the charming courtyard, according to owner Paul Cocking. Abbott Square is now offering food and drink on the terrace and for takeout Wednesday-Sunday, 3-9pm. Vinocruz is venturing into the brave new world of dine-in service, noon to 7pm daily. And La Posta should be ready for al fresco dining by the end of June.
Check listings to find out who is offering takeout and who is reopening for dine-in service: goodtimes.sc/cover-stories/guide-to-takeout-food-santa-cruz.