38 edible monterey bay summer 2016 BEER + FOOD Driven by her love of cooking and desire to open a business in the San Lorenzo Valley where she grew up, omas opened e Cremer House restaurant and alehouse in late 2014. It’s located in an allegedly haunted former hotel, boarding house, tavern and brothel built in 1874. Together with building owner Bob Locatelli, who also owns the New Leaf Community Markets store next door, she spent months painstakingly restoring the property with vintage finds and rustic handhewn touches. A copper kettle with 25 taps was installed behind the bar, where omas gets to offer not just SCMB’s beer, like the brewery’s own location in downtown Santa Cruz, but also favorite craft beers from other breweries that omas has discovered in her travels around the country. She also created most of the opening menu herself—focusing on all-American comfort foods and vegetarian options made with fresh, seasonal, mostly organic local ingredients. “We do all our buying with New Leaf,” she says. “Bert Brown has been doing their produce buying for 30 years and he knows every farm in the county.” As for sticking with organic ingredients: “It’s always been important to me,” says omas. “It doesn’t necessarily have a lot of commercial draw in terms of what the cost of it is, but that’s the way I was raised. It’s just an ethical choice.” roughout the summer, e Cremer House is hosting a series of Tuesday night farm dinners to coincide with the Felton farmers’ market. Using produce from a different local farm each week, chef J.P. Doiron will create a special farmers’ market menu that will be available alongside the regular dishes. For the brewery and for the restaurant, to a lesser extent, omas relies on three types of customers. “You get your locals, but it’s very expensive to live here so they might not be willing to spend as much on a regular basis; then you get your tourists, but that season fluctuates with the weather; and then the other customers are UCSC students,” she says. “I like to have a trifecta of customers.” Business is brisk, but omas says she’s learned a lot about the hospitality business over the past few years. “I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more restaurants in Santa Cruz, but I know now from my own personal experience that it is not an easy place to do business,” she says. “It’s really hard to get the city and the county on board with new business plans. ey are always excited about it, but it’s way easier in Portland to start a new business, get zoned for it and build it,” she says. “It’s so restrictive and it’s expensive. at’s why people go towards pop-ups and food trucks and take the catering path, so they don’t have to invest in bricks and mortar,” she adds. “In the end, I think Santa Cruz would benefit from more established places.” KEEPING IT FRESH To keep everything fun and exciting, dishes are rotated according to the seasons. e wintry chicken pot pie, for instance, was recently replaced by lighter Arctic char, with spiced couscous and yogurt dill sauce. But favorites remain, such as the puffy house-baked pretzels, fried chicken with maple-mustard coleslaw and the Cremer burger. e restaurant’s vibrant and creatively spiced pickled vegetables and condiments are house made and available for sale to take home.
edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016
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