When Jesikah Stolaroff was 7, she and her sister pretended to own a restaurant. Her childhood dream became a reality in 2019 when she opened Vim, where she’s also head chef. Stolaroff got a degree in Nutritional Science from UC Berkeley and another from the Culinary Institute of America. Her passion for food, especially dessert, defines Vim: It’s the ideal place for a memorable dining experience.
In addition to a full bar (with cocktail pairings), Vim’s seasonally focused menu that utilizes locally sourced produce features several starter highlights, including local smoked salmon with goat cheese panna cotta and roasted peaches. The fennel pork tenderloin with honey-baked feta, orange fennel grits and slow-roasted strawberries stands out amongst the entrées. Stolaroff uses three adjectives to describe Vim’s desserts: “thoughtful, delicious and indulgent.” The chocolate cake is finished with chocolate ganache, raspberry jam and malted buttercream.
Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 5-8pm. Once a month, they offer Sunday afternoon tea. Stolaroff took a slice out of her day to discuss restaurant ownership and answer a burning question: Why does the dessert course really take the cake?
What does owning a restaurant entail?
JESIKAH STOLAROFF: I definitely expected it to be hard, and I was accustomed to working long hours and grueling shifts. The business part was challenging, and there was a learning curve, but luckily my mom helped me with that side of things and allowed me to focus on the menu. The pandemic was obviously a huge and unexpected stress too, and the biggest problem was that I didn’t anticipate the staffing shortage. I relied a lot more on myself and my family to sustain the restaurant.
Why is dessert the best course?
For me, desserts are associated with a lot of celebratory nostalgia. They seem to bring more joy and feel like more of a special treat. Seeing someone’s face when they eat one of our housemade desserts is a fulfilling and gratifying experience. I’ve loved sweets since I was a kid, and having my own restaurant is a great way to share that love with others. My philosophy is: There’s always room for cake.
Vim, 2238 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 831-515-7033; vimsantacruz.com.