.Paula’s Offers Tasty Breakfast and Lunch Fare

Paula’s current owner, Santa Cruz native Russell Fox, left the area for a while to run multiple restaurants and bars in Santa Barbara. However, he could only stay away from his hometown for so long. When Fox returned to Santa Cruz, he was hired as the manager of Paula’s, a neighborhood coffee joint that’s been a Portola Drive fixture for decades. By 1995, Fox had moved into the ownership role. He transformed the spot from unextraordinary to a distinct breakfast/lunch joint that showcases the city that had beckoned Fox to return.

The food’s not fancy, but you won’t find many other $5 sit-down breakfasts that come with two eggs (cooked any style), potatoes and toast. Pancakes and waffles with various toppings are also on the menu. There’s also the beloved “Walk Away”: a freshly-baked hoagie roll filled with potatoes, cheddar cheese and an egg. The lunchtime menu features hotdogs, tuna sandwiches and other staples. Paula’s is open 7am-1pm Monday-Friday, and 8am-1pm Saturday and Sunday. Fox rapped with GT recently about Paula’s unique ambiance and his clairvoyant powers.

How would you describe Paula’s interior?

RUSSELL FOX: It’s a mini-museum inside the restaurant dedicated to old-school Capitola and Pleasure Point. There’s a life-size replica shark head, hanging paddleboards and surfboards, classic local pictures and surfer magazines and journals. Our outside patio is probably the best anywhere because it has plants, pictures, umbrellas, benches, tables and swings. And there is also a 1979 Dodge surfing van that guests can eat inside of. It’s not like any place else.

Tell me about your ability to predict the future.

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In 1970, I predicted that two things would come true: One was that marijuana would be legalized; and two, that Santa Cruz would become the number one place to live in the entire world because of access, access, access. What I mean by this is we have Monterey Bay, top pro sports teams like the Warriors, Giants and 49ers, Big Sur, Laguna Seca etc., all within 100 miles. You can surf in the morning and ski that same afternoon. Given the popularity of Santa Cruz now and the cost of living here, it turns out I was right.

3500 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz. 831-464-0741. paulas-santa-cruz.edan.io.

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