Ten Years of Culinary Bliss

Ten years is a long time for anything, especially in the restaurant business. For Cava Restaurant and Bar, it’s the newest milestone that provides a fleeting pause of satisfaction amidst a decade of frenzied dinner hour rushes. The Coast Village Road redoubt is gearing up for a festive weekend – from Thursday to Sunday – that will combine the perennial celebration of Cinco de Mayo with a mirthful nod to the latest landmark. On Thursday night, Cava will feature the guitar duo of Vincent Zorn and Garth Brooks (the other one).

“They play an incredibly lively and engaging style of rumba flamenco,” says Carlos Lopez-Hollis, the restaurant’s managing partner. “In all earnestness, these two rival any guitar duos in town as far as creative, original and entertaining live music goes.”

Cava will also be offering tequila and margarita specials and handing out gifts ranging from wine to tequila to custom-made “10 Year” Cava tee shirts.

Friday and Saturday will both have the same celebratory vibe throughout lunch and dinner, as the staff expects a fun and crowded atmosphere, especially because of the weekend energy and Saturday being the actual fifth. Live music will be performed by Teka and Chris Judge, each a staple of the Cava sound with their upbeat Bossa Nova guitar licks and romantic lyrics.

And as Carlos adds, “hopefully the fifth doesn’t wipe people completely out” because Thursday’s act, Zorn and Brooks, returns on Sunday evening, following the weekly Sunday brunch from 8 am to 4 pm.

While reservations are always encouraged, Cava can accommodate those who’d like to join on the fly, be it on the front or back patio, large indoor seating area or private room and terrace.

As a side note, the restaurant has been busy upgrading the facility. Owners just re-upholstered the indoor booths and commissioned local artist Tami Zweig to do a Gaudi-esque mosaic on the front patio fountain. Smaller touches, such as the new awning for patio guests and an influx of fresh external landscape plants, have also been added. And that’s just a starter.

“Most importantly, we’ve added some great new dishes (try head chef Onofre Zuniga’s albondigas soup),” says Carlos. “And we are finalizing some creative new drink specials for our guests (namely, tequila flights).

“So we’re excited and proud as ever of the Cava product as we approach the ten-year milestone,” he goes on, “and we’re hoping that the Montecito community will come join us in our excitement for Cinco de Mayo weekend.”

Cava Restaurant and Bar (969-8500) is located at 1212 Coast Village Road. For more info visit www.cavarestaurant.com.

Building Bridges Through Art

An unlikely friendship has been forged between Montecito and Santa Barbara’s Eastside children, thanks to an anonymous donation for an art program at Cesar Chavez Charter School. The donation was given with the intention of starting an art program at Cesar Chavez similar to the one Montecito Union has in place. In this case, Cesar Chavez, a charter school with 220 students (90% Latino; 85% living at or below poverty level), created a curricular collaboration with Crane School last September, a credit due to some open-minded instructors.

“Crane was more flexible to partner up with since they didn’t have to stick to State standards. They were also philanthropic-minded and enthusiastic about what the experience could bring them,” says Kathi Scarminach, a bilingual art teacher at Cesar Chavez who has a child attending Montecito Union. Kathi is assisted by fellow Montecito Union mother Nicola Ghersen.

In the program’s initial meetings, the differences in economic strata were soon made very clear to students from both schools.

“The Cesar Chavez kids do not have many parents who can drive, so the students took the MTD bus to Crane,” Kathi recalled. “A teacher at Crane had the students meet them at the bus stop at Sheffield [Drive] and they all walked to Crane together.”

The Crane teachers then came up with the idea of taking their students on the MTD back to the Cesar Chavez campus since some of the students had yet to experience public transportation.

During each session, the children are broken into groups, usually with two Crane students paired with two Cesar Chavez students.

“This class makes it important for the kids to work together,” Kathi explains.

The art classes are taught in both English and Spanish. Students have recently put finishing touches on a bilingual book that will be showcased during a show at Art From Scrap, from May 3 through May 6.

On the day I visited, the Crane children were being hosted by Cesar Chavez, which is located on Franklin School campus. The two groups immediately started playing and laughing with one another, kids dressed in Cesar Chavez burgundy uniforms intermingling with kids dressed in brand name street clothes.

“It is great because these kids see each other as friends when they are downtown,” says Kathi. “When the Crane students move on to public junior high and high schools, they will know some kids from Cesar Chavez.”

The teachers at Crane have been able to demonstrate lessons that children could never learn in a classroom. When the two schools set up a trip to the Ty Warner Sea Center, Crane students were in disbelief that Cezar Chavez kids had to walk to their next destination.

“Some of the Crane kids wanted to give their friends from Cesar Chavez a ride home,” says Kathi. “We couldn’t let them due to liability reasons, but it was nice for them to offer.”

For parents, the collaboration underscores why they send their kids to school – for a learning experience.

“As the parent of fourth and sixth grade boys, I am thrilled to witness the partnership between Cesar Chavez and Crane Schools,” says Melissa Marsted, a mother of two Crane students, “as an example of bringing two school groups together to share and create art, culture, language and literature as a means of raising and building positive community awareness.”

The Crane/Cesar Chavez art display goes from May 3 to May 6 at Art From Scrap, 302 East Cota Street. For more info visit www.artfromscrap.org.