Welcome to Lily Belli on Food, a weekly food-focused newsletter from Lookout’s food and drink reporter, Lily Belli. Keep reading for the latest local food news for Santa Cruz County — plus some fun odds and ends from my own life and across the web.

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… Laili Restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz resumed lunch service for the first time since the pandemic on Friday. It is now served Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m

Why such a long pause, when so many other restaurants reopened sooner? The restaurant felt that after the pandemic, guests were slow to return. “The demand simply wasn’t there,” he says. Mary Dunlap, the office manager and Lily, like other restaurants, struggled to find employees. “But people are going out again and we’ve seen an uptick in business this year. We felt it was time to reintroduce lunch. Leila now has a good team of restaurant staff to serve customers.

Laila Restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine with an Afghan influence, and is known for its beautiful “secret” patio located on Cooper Street off Pacific Avenue, across from Abbott Square. The lunch menu is similar to the dinner menu, with the addition of lunch sets starting at $16 and wraps and flatbreads for $14. View the menu and make reservations at lailirestaurant.com.

Haven Café is coming to Scotts Valley in early 2024, and will feature a play area for younger children.

…As a mother of a young child, I often wish there was a place I could go to meet friends where my son could run around and have a good time, too. Before you say park — have you tried going when it’s rainy or cold? Not amusing.

It seems so Shastina Trop,, A former preschool teacher, she’s been reading my mind — she’s opening a new café in Scotts Valley that aims to be a safe, welcoming place for both kids and adults. Café Haven will be half a café, with a modern interior, comfy chairs, a breakfast and lunch menu, and a half-indoor play area, with a climbing wall, sensory exhibits, puzzles and more.

Troup is finalizing a location on Scotts Valley Drive and plans to open in early 2024. An official opening date should be set soon. Read more on Lookout.

…Tomato Gardener – Are you worried about wet fall weather that could harm your tomatoes as they ripen? Mountain Feed and Farm Supplies has you covered at Ben Lomond. in This video is from September 2021, Carla DeLong, Extraordinary gardener and flower grower, tells you what to do if your tomatoes crack on the vine and gives tips on what to do with them. In short – pick them as soon as possible, before fungi and mold appear, even if they are not ripe after a few days.

Shoppers Spotlights Joe Thompson and Katie Vick

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In case you miss it yourself

Inside Slice Project in Watsonville, a purveyor of New York-style pizza

(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County is obsessed with pizza. There are more restaurants and pop-ups specializing in different styles of pizza that you can grab a slice of, and more are available online all the time. Slice Project in Watsonville stands out from the crowd with its thin and crispy New York-style patties, topped with rich marinara and gooey—never chewy—cheese that pulls out from the center in long, delicious strands. Here’s what you should order if you go.


Goodles now sells a box of macaroni and cheese every two seconds, Company reports. The Santa Cruz-based startup launched its “better”, nutrient-packed mac and cheese less than two years ago, and customers can now find its colorful boxes in more than 35,000 locations nationwide. My whole family loves him – Check out my story from November 2021 to learn about this local company.

Life with Belis

Over the weekend, Marco, Cecilia, and I attended a birthday party for my friend’s 5-year-old twins. I thought the theme was a cute idea for younger kids – it was a pancake and pajama party on a Sunday morning. Kids and adults showed up in their pajamas and enjoyed the pancake bar, which had plenty of fresh fruit, marshmallows, two different types of sprinkles and chocolate chips, plus bacon, quiche, coffee, juice and mimosas for the adults. I appreciated being comfortable and comfortable and not having to dress up two kids in party clothes, and Marco and his little friends loved decorating their pies. Another guest even brought fancy maple syrup mixed with edible glitter! The real giveaway was that both kids were home and napping by 12:30pm, and I’m definitely keeping this idea on hand for future parties.

This week, I learned…

…about an important moment in local agricultural history. Last week, I reported that Santa Cruz County was on high alert for its discovery The invasive and destructive oriental fruit fly, whose discovery in parts of the Gulf region led to a major quarantine for months. While researching this story, I came across a San Francisco Chronicle photo article about the history of the invasion of Mediterranean fruit flies into the Bay Area in the early 1980s. The pests got out of control and led to a “pesticide frenzy” of harmful chemicals sprayed throughout the South Bay, East Bay and Peninsula. Today’s preventive measures are aimed at ensuring that such extreme measures will never be needed again, Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner said. David Sanford Tell me. Check it out here for a quick history lesson.

Grazing on the green leaflet ad

Food news worth reading

➤ Even though unemployment rates are low and wages are high, nonprofits say they are We continue to see an increasing demand for food aid. “The economic crisis that has sent millions upon millions of families turning to food banks for help has not abated, and people are still struggling and still wondering where they will get their next meal,” says one executive. (NBC News)

➤ If passed, California’s food safety law would ban some food additives found in popular packaged snacks like Skittles. The bill targets additives that are already banned in Europe or known to cause cancer in miceIt has bipartisan support. (food and wine)

➤ Starting pay for fast food workers in California is about to get a big increase. The minimum wage will increase from $15.50 per hour to $20 per hour on April 1, 2024., as part of an agreement between California fast food restaurant advocates, lawmakers and union leaders. (national review)



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