Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (2024)

Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (1)

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

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… On Monday, a new state law banning service fees – those sneaky surcharges that sometimes show at the end of your bill for everything from a latte at a coffee shop to a concert ticket – went into effect. The law is intended to increase transparency for consumers by requiring the listed price to include any and all additional fees, except for taxes and a gratuity. No more thinking you’re buying something at one price only to discover it’s suddenly a lot more expensive by the time you check out.

But, the restaurant industry lobbied hard and won an exemption. Food service businesses will still be able to add service fees, but they must now “clearly” and “conspicuously” list them “up front,” and include an explanation of where the money goes. Unlike other types of businesses, who now have to include all fees in a single list price.

Restaurateurs and their customers can be at odds over service charges, which typically show up as a 3 to 5% fee before tax and often support employee benefits like healthcare, according to the businesses that charge them. Pretty Good Advice restaurant owner Matt McNamara says service fees are misleading for both diners and competing restaurants. Shadowbrook owner Ted Burke disagrees, and says his clearly stated 4% service fee supports and draws attention to the company’s generous employee benefits, which he believes his guests appreciate.

Read the full story to find out what you need to know.

Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (2)

… Live Earth’s Farm Discovery Program has set a date for its annual fall fundraiser, Forage. The event will be held on September 21 at the Watsonville farm, and aims to raise $90,000 to support its on-farm education program, organic produce distribution to local meal programs and food pantries, and field trips for local kids.

This year, chef Diego Felix of Fonda Felix will provide the appetizers, and chef Pamela Burns of Monterey’s Wild Plum Café is making the dinner, paired with local wines, followed by dessert by gluten-free Switch Bakery. Maria Finn, author of “Forage. Gather. Feast,” is the keynote speaker. Individual tickets are $150, and premium tickets, which include the best views of the Pajaro Valley and two bottles of wine, are $200. More info here.

… And a heads up – the Felton farmers market is canceled today due to extreme heat. The temperatures in the Santa Cruz Mountains are expected to reach into the high 90s today, but the heat would be amplified by 10 to 15 degrees in the parking lot where the market is held. “Considering the health and safety of vendors who spend up to seven hours in the parking lot, as well as customers who may be vulnerable to high heat, we have canceled the market,” says a news brief from Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets.

It’s a good reminder that this heat wave is no joke. Stay cool and stay hydrated this week!

Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (4)

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (5)

Kick off Independence weekend with Lookout’s new guide to hot dog carts and restaurants. I found seven hot dogs from Boulder Creek and Watsonville that are worth seeking out this summer. Find it here.

ON THE MENU

I can’t tell you how many readers have messaged me over the last three years wanting to know one thing – what the heck is going on at the old Weinerschnitzel lot on Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz? The beer garden there has been a work in progress for years. Will it ever open?

The short answer to the last question is yes, and possibly soon. Watch for the story next week.

EVENT SPOTLIGHT

Hop N Barley, Santa Cruz County’s local and long-running beer festival, returns to SkyPark in Scotts Valley next Saturday. A $50 ticket includes unlimited tasting of more than 60 beers and ciders from dozens of breweries and cideries from throughout California. Plus, the event offers two stages of live music, a lineup of local food trucks and vintage Volkswagen bus eye-candy courtesy of a local club. More info here.

Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (6)

LIFE WITH THE BELLIS

A little orchard update from the Belli homestead. The fruit trees in the front yard are thriving in the rich, clay-infused soil, which retains plenty of water from nearby streams. The peach tree, grown from a cutting from a tree my husband’s grandfather planted, still only reaches to my chest but I counted eleven hard fuzzy peaches this morning. The Black Mission fig we planted last spring is thriving, its little fruits hiding secretly under the leathery coconut-scented leaves.

The apricot tree boasts an abundance of gorgeous, slender foliage, but only made one perfect apricot. I surprised my husband with the sunset-colored jewel, no bigger than my baby’s fist, but sweet and ripe.

The apple tree is a tall, spindly thing, with all of its branches clustered frustratingly near the bottom. We recently found out that Honeycrisps are susceptible to about every blight and disease. So far, this one is healthy but unattractive. Its neighbor, the Bearss lime, may or may not survive the transplant from the back to the front yard, where it will get more sun. It seems to be clinging to life but I haven’t seen much new growth yet.

In the backyard, the Lisbon lemon is thriving and perky. It’s robust and pretty, and it always catches my eye from the kitchen window.

FOOD NEWS WORTH READING

ICYMI – I did – San Francisco’s beloved Anchor Brewing was purchased at the end of May by billionaire Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of yogurt-company Chobani and owner of coffee company La Colombe. He hopes to restore, and possibly expand, the 127-year-old brewery’s beer-making operations, and aims to iron out things with Anchor’s unionized workforce. But, as of this week, Ulukaya has not reached out to them, workers say. (San Francisco Chronicle / Eater SF)

Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (7)
Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (8)
Lily Belli on Food: New statewide service fee rules, Live Earth’s fall feast, and an orchard update (2024)

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