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Photograph by George Sakkestad

Model Remodel: The refurbished Caffe Lido attracts diners with both its menu and its ambiance.

Bridging the Gap

Tamera and Lee Walters remodel Stockton Bridge Grill and add Caffe Lido to their repertoire

By Janet Blaser

SEEING THE SILVER lining in an un-expected situation often takes some effort, and one hopes that with the passage of time we grow more adept at actually applying that philosophy. Such was the case with Tamera and Lee Walters, who have taken what could have been a disastrous predicament and turned it into an opportunity that has proven to be successful and satisfying beyond their expectations.

Owners of Capitola's Stockton Bridge Grill for 15 years, the enterprising couple decided last fall that the time was right to expand and add the nearby Caffe Lido to their repertoire. Their intention was to offer very different concepts at the two restaurants: remodel Stockton Bridge to include a second-floor dining room and expand its fine dining capabilities, and to bring Lido's potential up to par.

Well, you know how it is with best-laid plans--a series of delays necessitated a hold on the remodel, and suddenly the Walters found themselves moving the whole shebang down to the other end of the Esplanade. Chef Anthony Diaz and bartender extraordinaire Brett Rose, both with new menus in hand, set up shop in the sleek and sexy remodeled Caffe Lido. The Grill's restless staff, eager to get back to work, followed, and voilà, in three short weeks, the change was complete.

It has always seemed to me that a tremendous amount of potential was sitting untapped at Caffe Lido--that gorgeous ocean view and graceful, eclectic structure are building blocks not easy to come by. I'm here to tell you that Caffe Lido's cry for help finally seems to have been heard. What you'll find now is a smoothly professional operation that has taken one of the village's prime locations and turned it into what it always shoulda/coulda been: a showcase of just about everything the area has to offer.

Diaz's menu is full of fresh local seafood and produce, with so many creative and intriguing offerings that repeat visits should just be assumed. You'll find both an impressive wine list and a lively bar menu, and Lido's full liquor license guarantees that bartender Rose can make his signature "martiniz" till the cows come home. In short, Tamera and Lee's vision has created an atmosphere rich in character, with an ambiance that encourages lingering over your meal and enough proven talent in all the right places to ensure that you'll enjoy it. In another month or so, the name will change to reflect this new identity. I'm sworn to secrecy, or I'd tell you. As far as Stockton Bridge, keep an eye out for building work to resume as soon as all the permit lights turn green. When it reopens, all your favorites, including that wonderful salmon ravioli, will be back.

Caffe Lido is located at the crest of the Esplanade in Capitola Village, and the number to call for reservations or more information is 475. 6544. Lest you worry about the infamous lack of parking in Capitola Village, at this time of year there's plenty of spaces, day and night. Besides, Tamera says you'll find all the attendants eating at Caffe Lido anyway. The restaurant is open daily from 11:30am to 9pm, straight through, and till 10pm on weekends. Sunday brunch is served from 10am to 2pm, and I'd strongly suggest reservations, especially if you're a group of four or more. Monday is Neighbor Night for football fans--you know what'll be on the TV above the bar.

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From the January 19-26, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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