Ivéta Café is tucked in an unassuming industrial neighborhood on Santa Cruz’s Westside, not far from Kelly’s French Bakery. Buttery scones, simple, fresh food, artfully prepared coffee, all in an unpretentious and inviting atmosphere that draws a mellow clientele.
This Italian-inspired bistro first took root in 1991 in a Chicago suburb when husband and wife team, John and Yvette Bilanko, opened Yvette’s Espresso Bar. Their business flourished both at the café as well as their line of packaged scone, muffin and biscuit mixes. In 1998, as the couple’s third child was about to go away to college, they decided to make a dramatic change. They sold their burgeoning business, which included commercial space and a café, and moved to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz popped onto the Bilanko’s radar because two of their daughters were attending UCSC. What better place to restart their artisan food business while being close to their kids?
Even though they sold their food business back in Illinois, they kept the recipes they’d developed and began rebuilding their packaged mix business, all the while searching for the ideal location to relaunch their café. In 2000, Ivéta scone mix was featured in the renowned “O List” of O Magazine’s premier edition, earned accolades in the Outstanding Baked Goods category from a leading food trade industry, and in 2001, the Chicago Tribute heralded Ivéta’s mix created what they deemed a “proper scone that could be served with pride to company.” Ten years after moving across the country, the packaged mixes continued to compile the praises of the industry and customers alike with availability spreading throughout the country (including on Amazon), the Bilanko’s finally found the ideal location on Santa Cruz’s Westside.
The Westside café is part of their large, bustling commercial kitchen space and melds a Euro-Italian vibe with the industrial space. High ceilings, local art and a welcoming staff along with the intoxicating smell of baked goods and fresh brewed coffee fill the cozy interior. Couches and tables make the spacious outdoor patio a great place to enjoy a morning espresso and scone (of course) or a late lunch. Along with their full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods and expertly prepared coffees, Café Ivéta also serves local beer and wine. Their sky loft is a flexible space used for diners, live music and entertainment, and hosting private events.
The popularity of the Westside café led to the Bilanko’s opening another, large café space on the UC Santa Cruz campus in the Graduate Student Commons.
If it isn’t already on your list of places to enjoy a leisurely weekend meal, it should be. After 18 years in Santa Cruz, Café Ivéta has made its mark as part of the local food culture, “producing easy, all-natural artisan baking mixes and serving simple, fresh food, without pretense.”
2125 Delaware Avenue
Saturday & Sunday 8am-4pm
Graduate Student Commons across from Bay Tree Bookstore