A Different Kind of Incubator

First Kendra Baker and her business partner, Zach Davis, brought grown-up (and organic) ice cream to Santa Cruz, in the form of their Penny Ice Creamery on Pacific Avenue. How grown-up? Think flavors like whisky custard, celery raisin, and strawberry pink peppercorn. Then came two more ice-cream parlors, a sandwich spot facing the beach, and, eventually, a real, sit-down place called Assembly that critics have called the best restaurant in town.

These days, Baker—whose resume includes stints working for such groundbreaking chefs as Manresa’s David Kinch and the Bar Tartine duo, Nick Balla and Cortney Burns—is paying it forward with POPUP, a café space next door to Assembly where up-and-coming chefs can join a rotating playlist of lunch or dinner pop-ups. One day, you might find tostadas with cactus and kale salad from Cesario “My Mom’s Mole” Ruiz; another, it could be Filipino pork-belly adobo from Dennis Villafranca (aka Jeepney Guy) or quail-and-waffles from Pescadero’s Fowl Boyz.

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Leaven_BagelPhotos Courtesy of Zachary Davis