European-inspired cuisine on Santa Cruz's west side

Before opening Iveta’s original Westside location in 1999, John Bilanko was a lawyer for 25 years in his hometown of Chicago. He began to contemplate a move when he did some legal work in Silicon Valley and liked the area. When his two daughters decided to attend UCSC, it sealed the deal—he and his wife moved to Santa Cruz. He decided to retire as a lawyer and open a restaurant. Iveta, which has downtown and campus locations a full espresso bar featuring traditional Italian-style coffee. The Westside location, open every day from 8am-3pm, has a decidedly European sidewalk café feel set with marble tables and bar, and an outdoor patio. House made scones include  lavender white chocolate, apricot and cranberry orange. Breakfasts include a scrambled egg sandwich, breakfast burritos and tacos. For lunch, try classic BLT and turkey/Havarti sandwiches, Italian mixed green salads and minestrone and chicken pozole. 

 GT cross-examined Bilanko.

How does your law background help with Iveta?

JOHN BILANKO: The legal training makes it a lot easier to navigate the administrative requirements involved in running a restaurant—issues like liability, health code regulations, employee welfare, taxes, city codes and negotiating leases. Being a restauranteur requires many different hats and a diverse skill-set that my law experience has provided.

Tell me about your coffee supplier?

We use Lavazza coffee, a fourth-generation family business that has been around for 125 years. They are the most popular brand of coffee in Italy and invented coffee blending. They source from all over the world in a very sustainable way, and blend for certain flavor profiles to maintain consistency. I like it because it’s smooth, rich, balanced, robust and not bitter with a very nice feel on the palette.

2125 Delaware Avenue, Santa Cruz, 831-423-5149; iveta.com

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