.Seabright Social

Keeping the focus local

Two weeks before the first Covid shutdown, Jon Bates and his business partners Jason and Keike bought the iconic Seabright Brewery and rebranded it as Seabright Social. Buying a restaurant/bar just before a pandemic was hardly ideal timing, but the popular neighborhood spot has persevered.

Bates had been working in wine sales, but said he got sick of “living behind a windshield.” Becoming a restaurant owner was the fulfillment of a longtime dream of his, especially in the Santa Cruz community that he loves.

It’s a community gathering place with a modern gastropub feel, family and dog-friendly with a beautiful spacious patio blocks from the beach. The menu is centered on upscale American pub food. Appetizer faves are the smoked and fried chicken wings and the charcuterie Pub Board.

Entrée bests include the fried chicken sandwich, shrimp and grits, and the carnitas or carne asada tacos. A warm-in-a-skillet chocolate chip cookie topped with gelato makes a great punctuation. Open every day, hours are 11:30am-9:00pm (until 9:30pm Fri/Sat).

What was it like buying the restaurant right before Covid?

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JON BATES: The hardest thing was opening once we were allowed to in June 2020. Hiring front-of-house was easier, but it was so hard finding cooks because so many had changed professions. We’ve spent the last four years working hard to put the right people in place, be a real restaurant and rebrand, while also respecting the history of the Brewery.

How has the food been elevated?

JB: To start, we invested in a unique high-end oil filtration system that results in all the fried food being really clean. It allows us to filter and clean our oil often, as well as be eco-friendly with recycling it. And I’m so happy to have chef Desmond Schneider on the team, he has brought so much change to our restaurant. The primary menu hasn’t changed much, but the ingredients and purveyors we use have. His passion to make everything from scratch has motivated and improved our kitchen noticeably.

519 Seabright Avenue, Santa Cruz, 831-426-2739; seabrightsocial.com


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