Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Just Do It!

dining_diningFrom fried appetizers to fresh salads and giant burgers, Rocco's 503 is fresh

I have great respect for restaurateurs. It's a time-consuming profession, and in Santa Cruz, includes a seasonal risk. The odds of surviving a year in this business are small, but for Peter Rinaldi, owner of Rocco's 503, it was time to take the leap.

Rinaldi's Italian grandfather, and then his father, grew Brussels sprouts on the north coast. All of his cousins and their children still farm throughout the county.

"It just wasn't for me," Rinaldi says, "I always wanted to do something a little more social. I wanted to make my own path."

Rinaldi has been working in or managing restaurants since he was 23, and in March 2007 purchased Callahan's bar on Water Street.

"When the restaurant next door became available," Rinaldi says, "I thought it was a perfect opportunity to run a restaurant without having to run across town. If I didn't do it somebody else would have. I've always wanted to be able to facilitate food to my bar patrons."

In just two rent-free weeks, Rinaldi painted, decorated, added a draft beer system, and wired a high definition TV. This was easy, he says, compared to pulling together a menu and staff, but he couldn't afford to pay rent without customers.

Fortunately long-time local chef James Gorman was an occasional patron at Callahan's. He prepared an amazing New York steak with blue cheese au gratin potatoes for Rinaldi, and the chef was on board.

There were numerous reasons why Rinaldi should not have opened Rocco's, including his financial situation, the fact that October is the beginning of the slow season, and the circumstances under which the previous restaurant closed.

"For me the timing was wrong," Rinaldi remembered. "After you assess everything and have your page of pros and cons, it comes down to 'are you going to do this or not do this?' On the page of pros I had the experience and commitment to make it work."

Rinaldi works four service shifts at the restaurant to control costs, as well as cleaning, maintenance, accounting and ordering for both of his establishments.

"I'd love to have a bigger staff," Rinaldi laments," but I just can't afford it right now."

He delivered fliers to local businesses to lure lunchtime customers.

"Lunch has been picking up and I'm really proud of that," Rinaldi says. "I bought a business that was doing low lunch dollars, and I'm building it."

Besides the regular menu, lunch includes weekday pasta specials ($8.95). All of the pasta is freshly made by Santa Cruz Pasta Company. Available daily, the gourmet Burger and a Beer ($9.95) can be embellished with bacon, avocado and other tasty toppings.

Rinaldi is there to open the doors every day, keeping close watch on the pulse of his two businesses. After many straight months of work, he could finally escape for a snow day.


Rocco's 503, 503 Water St., Santa Cruz, 425-1213. Beer and wine. Serving lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. and dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. Visit roccos503.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?