YOLO gets reincarnated
Jonathan Degeneres purchased YOLO from previous owner Richard Perez last year. He gave the comfort food restaurant a soft reopening in the fall and rebranded it Water Street Grill, adding items like a Bourbon Street Chicken dish. It had its grand opening last month, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
What’s a soft opening like?
It helped us modify the menu. I wanted to take time to make sure I’m not just doing one item my way. After they ate, they gave us a comment card. So, they’d tell us what they think. I’m here for the long haul, so I want to get it right.
Did you keep menu items from YOLO?
Absolutely, yes. When I did the soft opening I still had the name YOLO. The customers suggested they loved the mac and cheese. [The previous owners] were really nice guys. The customers loved certain items. Why would I get rid of it? When they come, they still feel the past, but I added so much. They only had a one-page menu. I have four pages. I just added key items.
So … YOLO lives again.
Correct. What we did was modify. People can get what they want from the past. At the same time, a lot of things they only had on special, now [customers] can get any time. For example, wild salmon. That used to be once a week. You can get that any time.
Do you ever grab a drink Callahan’s, your neighborhood dive?
Not yet. Here’s the thing: they’re helping us a lot. We have a menu we made for them. It has some stuff not even for our menu. If they want a burger, I don’t want to give them the kids’ menu. We have a two-page menu made for them. If they have an event going on, we get six to eight people ordering. We deliver it to them, because we’re right next door. We even have a special aluminum-based container for them next door.
What’s a unique dish you have?
We have a quesadilla burger. You won’t see it everywhere. We actually chop the tomato to make our own Mexican ranch for a flavor sauce. Seasoning helps.
INFO: 503 Water St., Santa Cruz, 332-6122. PHOTO: Jonathan Degeneres, owner of Water Street Grill, with a New York steak. CHIP SCHEUER