It was a sudden parting of the ways. The Oasis umbrella entity that housed both the restaurant Matambre, and the tasting room for Uncommon Brewers closed its doors two weeks ago. Chris Laveque, entrepreneur of El Salchichero who teamed up with Uncommon Brewers in the ambitious—and very spacious—venture behind River St. Cafe had a few reflections to share.
“Its bittersweet that things have come to an end,” says Laveque. “It has taught me a lot in the several months we were open and the many years it took to get open.” Laveque wanted to clarify that Matambre was solely responsible for the food, and Uncommon for the beer, and front of the house. “We had a few things plague us from the start, the main being the name. It was envisioned as a tasting room for Uncommon Brewers but with no direct name association it was not viewed as that by the public,” he says. He’s right about that. Name recognition is something to be leveraged. “In the end we were known for the food, a different direction than what was envisioned by Uncommon Brewers.” Leveque also noted that there were no wine options available for those who preferred something other than beer. “There are many groups of people who do not drink beer—we had no option for them,” he says. Meanwhile, “the butcher shop is doing great as we enter our eighth year in this space,” the artisanal butcher noted. “We’re continuing to grow and are looking at some fun new projects here as well.” Stay tuned.
New Leaf at New Leaf
In a sudden pivot, designs to expand the Portland-based New Seasons Market empire of which New Leaf Community Markets is a part, have changed. There had been plans for a new store in Carmel as well as several in the Bay Area. Mary Wright, VP for New Leaf Community Markets, responded to our query about how the changes in the parent company—for example, its CEO stepping down—might affect our local stores.
“New Leaf Community Market’s stores will continue business as usual, and we look forward to continuing to serve our local communities. We are excited to open another New Leaf in Aptos later this year, and we are targeting a fall opening,” she says. Meanwhile, the Felton and Boulder Creek locations, owned by Bob Locatelli, will operate independently as of April 2 of this year, after 24 years of being part of New Leaf.
Lunch at Gabriella
Ladies who lunch find a lot to like at Gabriella, especially when uber-host Paul Cocking is on site as he was last Tuesday. Rita and I succumbed to some feather-light, fresh focaccia as well as two gorgeous seafood entrees. Rita’s buxom salad topped with a filet of true cod was lovely, but my rainbow trout over creamy polenta was even better. We celebrated the fine weather by sharing a glass of white wine and an order of affogato. Rita ate the vanilla gelato, and I scarfed down the chocolate cookie with sea salt. Happy day.
Hmmm, just exactly where are those chocolatiers of Mutari? Well, as co-owner Katy Oursler explained, they are in two locations. The shop and factory live at Front Street, with its extended drink menu and indoor seating. Except when Mutari inhabits “an extended Pop-Up” of grab-and-go items in the bouncy little Pacific Avenue space next door to Assembly. Hope this clarifies things for you. It does for me. Chocolate. Always a great idea. Heads up: Mutari is open today, Valentine’s Day from noon until 9 p.m. Chocolate. Valentine’s favorite! 504A Front St., Santa Cruz. mutarichocolate.com