Ever wondered where Santa Cruz’s Midtown really is?
Are you wondering if Santa Cruz’s Midtown district has an easygoing café with good quality food and a chill back patio? Indeed, the Midtown Café, which opened in January, fits that exact description. Did you even know Santa Cruz has a Midtown? Read on, as owner Zac Creager explains what this often-vaguely-referenced district actually consists of, and how his café is serving it with a simple, yet eclectic menu.
For those who don’t know, where exactly is Santa Cruz’s Midtown?
ZAC CREAGER: I’ve always recognized Midtown as the Rio Theater, Charlie Hong Kong, the Crepe Place—probably to the Buttery, going down to Broadway, over towards Seabright. Something like that. It [is] a symbol of what we represent. Midtown Café is a pretty casual stop. We’re not trying to be pretentious at all. We’re just trying to be a coffee shop where people can hang out and have some good food.
Why do you not publicize your phone number?
People all the time come in and say, “I want to put a phone order in.” That’s not the style of the café that I want to have. It might be damaging to our business a little bit, but I wouldn’t call a coffee shop and order a coffee ahead of time. Just come in, that’s my attitude. When the phone’s ringing all day, it drives your customers insane. Those who really need to be in contact with me for business have my personal phone number. We just want a nice comfortable environment for people.
You incorporate some interesting global elements—Chimichurri sauce, nutella, chai, polenta.
I spent a lot of time in Argentina and Chile. I was a mountain guide in Patagonia for four years. That’s where the chimichurri sauce came from—it’s a popular salsa there. For Nutella, my mother is French. I grew up with nutella on the table. It’s like peanut butter is to Americans. Nutella toast, it’s a little comfort food. I thought it would be fun to throw that in there. I think polenta is such a great, hearty version of oatmeal. Our chai—I would say chai is pretty standard with coffee shops, but I’m using Bhakti Chai, which is not as local as we want to be, but sometimes you have to make that sacrifice because Bhakti, there’s no chai around that even compares.
1121 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, no phone (see interview). PHOTO: There’s a reason Midtown Café owner Zac Creager doesn’t believe in phone orders. CHIP SCHEUER