Born in England, Andy Hewitt came to California in 1981 and found a job as a bartender at Britannia Arms in Cupertino, where he quickly became manager and then bought in as a co-owner. In 1995, he opened an Aptos location, and 11 years ago, he and his wife Sydney, the chef, moved to their iconic Capitola location right next to the beach. “Every day is a Saturday in Capitola,” Andy says. He defines Britannia Arms as an authentic British pub, explaining that “pub” comes from “public house,” which means that everyone is welcome. Some traditional English fare favorites on the menu include the beer-battered fish and chips and the homemade shepherd’s pie. They also offer sandwiches like burgers, cheesesteaks, Reubens and ribeye steak with baked potato and veggies. They also serve breakfast—classic American and traditional English—until 3pm daily.
Hours are 10:15am-2am daily (kitchen closes at 10pm). Recently, Hewitt gave GT the scoop on his journey to America and the traditional British breakfast.
How did you come to California?
ANDY HEWITT: I was a young man at age 23 traveling the world, and I ended up in San Francisco and never went back to London. I got the job at Britannia Arms almost right away, soon after bought in, and so I stayed. I had traveled all over parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, but fate had me end up in San Jose, and I bought into a business, and here I am. I never looked back; I saw an opportunity and took it. And it’s such a small world now; I got soccer on TV, and own a pub. I meet a lot of people from the United Kingdom and still feel like a part of British culture.
What is an English breakfast?
It starts with two eggs and a British banger, which is a traditional English sausage. It also has Irish bacon, more of a loin cut that is thicker and meatier than American bacon, as well as grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and English beans in a heavy tomato sauce. It also comes with a choice of toast, and upon request, we also serve Irish black pudding, which is very traditional and something you don’t usually get in America.
Britannia Arms, 110 Monterey Ave., Capitola, 831-464-2583.