I often walk by Hoffmann’s Bistro and Patisserie downtown and marvel at the longevity and setup of the business. My younger sister worked at Hoffmann’s for a while and I always enjoyed their delicious food. Recently, more and more of my friends seem to chose Hoffmann’s as a place to go to eat and have fun. I had a chance to speak with Adam Hoffmann about the restaurant business in Santa Cruz. The interview goes as follows.
SCW: Congratulations on receiving Restaurant of the Month! What brings so many people to Hoffman’s Bistro and Patisserie?
Adam: First off I’d like to thank Santa Cruz Waves for the honor of Restaurant of the Month! My family and I are grateful for all of the local support. I think what keeps people coming into Hoffman’s is our honest approach to delivering fresh, quality, and affordable cuisine. That and we offer Breakfast, lunch, dinner, local draft beer, organic wines, craft cocktails, and of course our full line of baked goods. My Dad still makes all of the cakes himself. I think our customers like that he’s still back there crafting cakes with his own two hands.
SCW: Your restaurant has been around for quite some time. What is the secret to running a successful business downtown?
Adam: Hoffman’s downtown has been on Pacific for over twelve years. The secret? Perseverance. My family and I have always had a knack for the cuisine, but the daily grind of the restaurant business can be overwhelming. Downtown has it’s ebs and flows of business, and I’ve seen a lot of restaurants come and go over the years. Yet, my family and I are still here ‘crackin eggs and grillin’ away.
SCW: Is there live music regularly in the Restaurant?
Adam: Hoffman’s has live music every night. At first we had mainly jazz groups, but over the years we’ve done bluegrass, bossa nova, Hawaiian, “one man” bands, famous singers, pianists, etc. On one of the first nights after we decided to do dinner service, a sax player came to my father and I. He said “I think your place could have great acoustics, what would you think about letting my trio play next Saturday?” The rest is history.
SCW: Did you recently open a new restaurant on the UCSC campus?
Adam: In 2011 I opened up the Global Village Cafe, at UCSC. I had worked on the proposal for a year, so it was exciting once we finally cut the ribbon. The cafe has been a hit among students, faculty and staff, who’ve shown a tremendous amount of support toward healthy, fresh, local and sustainable cuisine. The cafe is at the freshly remodeled McHenry Library, which is probably the coolest library on the planet. The library includes a Grateful Dead exhibit as well as monitors that scroll though newspapers from cities all over the world. I could rave about the cafe/library all day so I should stop myself there.
SCW: How many Hoffman’s are there, and who really runs the business?
Adam: Most of my immediate family is highly involved with the restaurant. My Dad does the baking, my Mom handles the financials, my sister helps with marketing and manages the wine list, and I handle just about everything else. I’m really enjoying running our new bar/cocktail program. This is an exiting time for the craft spirit industry. Not only are the name brands producing “small batch” liquor and cordials, but there’s a number of local distilleries also producing exceptional products, such as St. George spirits in Alameda, and Old World Spirits in Belmont. Not to mention that absinthe is now legal in the US for the first time in almost a century. I used to have to sneak bottles in my luggage from Canada. Just a few years later, I’m operating a bar and offering ten different absinthes!
SCW: Favorite part about running a business downtown?
Adam: My favorite part about running a business in downtown Santa Cruz is the people and the culture. Over the last 5 years or so, the environment downtown has improved significantly. I’m seeing more families, groups for concerts/events, and street musicians that can actually play. I love how dog friendly downtown has become, while still being responsible with leashes and waste. Many of Hoffman’s patrons come in just to enjoy our dog friendly patio.
SCW: Was Hoffman’s ever featured on a Restaurant makeover reality TV show? How did that go?
Adam: Hoffman’s was featured on the Food network’s “Restaurant Impossible” in Fall 2011. Those are without a doubt the two most intense days so far in my life. Although Robert Irvine can be intense to say the least, my impression is that he is a genuine, helpful, and often jolly dude. He likes to beat you up a bit mentally, but it’s always in support of setting you up for success. Remarkably, people from all over the states come into Hoffman’s to see the remodel, and talk to us about the show. It’s not easy leaving your image up to a national TV show, but I enjoyed how the episode came together, and I have no regrets.
SCW: Would Hoffman’s benefit from being allowed to operate longer hours into the night and serve alcohol until 4a.m.?
Adam: Interesting question. As our hours are right now, a 4am closing would have us open 20 hours a day. I’d like the idea more if the metro had buses running in the later hours. It can be quite hard to get a taxi downtown in the later hours, especially on the weekends. Thankfully we have the company Cruz Control, who assist in getting your inebriated self, as well as your vehicle home safe after a few drinks. Downtown can feel like a ghost town at 9:30pm, which is seems odd for a college town. I’m all for ideas to help the downtown become more vibrant into the later hours, but it should be done responsibly.
SCW: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and why?
Adam: Marilyn Monroe – Just in case I had a chance
SCW: Are there any shout outs you would like to give?
Adam: I’d like to shout out to the members of my staff, especially the ones who have stuck around for years through the thick ‘n thin. It couldn’t be possible without your support and I love y’all for it. I’d like to thank our bartenders, for being open to learning how to put together drinks properly while also being creative. I’d also like to thank my buddy Jimmy. Kudos to making things happen.
SCW: Great, well thank for taking the time to answer our questions.
Adam: Thank you.
Please visit Hoffmann’s online at: Hoffmann’s
and facebook page: Hoffmann’s Facebook
and visit the Global Village Cafe at: Global Village Cafe
Photos provided by Hoffmann’s
Article by: Jack Neenan