Dick Peixoto has been planting, growing and harvesting for 45 years. At 17, he founded his farm, which eventually became Lakeside Organic Gardens in Watsonville. Peixoto initially went to the California Grill & Bar to meet with farmer buddies. 10 years ago, he was offered ownership of the popular spot—he liked the idea of a new challenge, so he decided to add restaurant ownership to his resume. Peixoto’s philosophy is simple: surround yourself with the right people in the right places. He says California Grill has a relaxed atmosphere and strictly adheres to farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients—about 90% of the produce comes from Peixoto’s farm.
It’s no surprise that salads are one of the menu favorites. Peixoto’s fresh produce is paired with options like skirt steak, ahi tuna and salmon. They also offer a chicken roulade with an artichoke cream sauce and vegetarian options, highlighted by a polenta lasagna. The Hawaiian-inspired loco moco is one of many breakfast standouts and a dessert special that rotates nightly. The Grill is open every day except Sunday, from 7am-9:30pm. GT recently spoke with Peixoto, digging deeper into the symbiotic relationship between his farm and restaurant.
What does farm-to-table mean to you?
DICK PEIXOTO: California Grill is very unique in that most of our produce comes from our own farm with a same-day harvest. At the end of the day, leftover produce from the restaurant is taken back to the farm and made available for free to employees of the farm and restaurant so that they can feed themselves and their families. I have a passion to supply people with healthy food, and this is definitely a step in that direction.
How has being a farmer helped in owning a restaurant?
It gives me a different perspective on what the consumer is actually looking for. Today, people want to have a connection and be as close as possible to the farm from which their food comes. Lakeside Organics and California Grill are great partners to make that happen. People appreciate it. I often walk through the restaurant as the farmer to explain to people how and where the food on their plate was grown.
California Grill & Bar, 40 Penny Lane, Watsonville, 831-722-8052.