.Following 2019 Fire, The Hideout Restaurant in Aptos Reopens

Almost two years after a fire, The Hideout restaurant in Aptos is back up to speed with a slightly expanded building, modern upgrades and nearly a full menu.

The popular eatery reopened March 22. It underwent a major demolition and rebuild following the May 2019 blaze that destroyed the building.

“The locals here are so supportive and we are thankful for that,” said Austin Welsh, who co-owns the spot with Pete Vomvolakis. “We’re working on bringing back our full menu of California cuisine, comfort food, a little fusion and Mediterranean. It takes time; there are some things we still have to adjust and fine-tune. But the main thing is: We’re just glad to be back.”

Indeed, on March 26 their patio was abuzz with business, and the indoor tables were starting to fill by mid-afternoon. Watsonville Police Sgt. Jarrod Pisturino said he saw several people he had not seen since before the restaurant burned down as he chowed down on a New York steak.

“When I heard they reopened I told my wife, ‘We’re going right now,’” he said. “It was great. The staff treats you like family …. It’s good to see what they were able to do with that space; it seemed like it made it twice as big as before.”

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Welsh said the bar has expanded and now features milled redwood slabs provided by Pacific Firewood of Watsonville. Several of those redwood slabs were also used to decorate some of the walls that were punctuated with windows offering views of surrounding redwood trees.

“The whole idea here is to show where the sea meets the redwoods,” Welsh said. 

The kitchen is headed up by chefs Antonio Gomes, Serafina Pantojja and Nick Sherman, and the business now includes a staff of around 45, many who were there before the fire.

“With all the customers coming and it kind of feels like we never missed a beat,” Welsh said.

Mike DeMars, fire marshal for Central Fire, said no injuries were reported in the blaze, and the fire appeared to be accidental. The foundation and several of the original wood walls were all that was left of the building that was originally a home built around 1929.

For more information, visit thehideoutaptos.com or call 688-5566. They are at 9051 Soquel Drive. Their hours are 11:30am to 9pm.

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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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