Why, if you were comfortably perched at the helm of one of the hottest, sweetest, most recession-proof businesses in town, would you consider expanding into the notoriously tricky restaurant biz? For Shannon Feld, owner of Crushcakes Cupcakery, the answer is simple: Woman cannot live on frosting alone. (All together now: Siiiiiigh.) And, perhaps more to the point, according to Feld, there are two kinds of people in the world: the sweet and the savory. And the sweet ones were starting to freak her out. (“They’re just so happy,” she said. “It’s kind of weird!”)
So she’s taking her runaway success slinging nostalgia in the form of baked goods with the world’s most favorable frosting-to-cake ratio, combining it with her experience running Bitterman’s Deli, and channeling it all toward Crushcakes’ newbie next-door alter-ego for the rest of us. Called CrushCafe (1315 Anacapa St., 963-9353), the eatery marked its grand opening last Friday night with good food and cool peeps, some celebratory bubbly, a couple bottomless platters of mini cupcakes, and plenty of schmoozing. The spot, which boasts Chef Bethany Markee’s local ingredient-driven, mouthwatering, 100 percent scratch-made (right down to the soup stock) breakfast and lunch menu-as well as Intelligentsia coffees and teas, a private outdoor patio, and free Wi-Fi-seems destined for greatness. All that’s missing is booze : but Feld’s working on it. Her application is in.
Friday evening unfolded decadently. We sampled all kinds of delicious snacks from the new menu, including “beefed-up” bleu cheese, steak, and onion sandwiches; cheesy chicken quesadillas; and toasted baguette slices done up in fine late-summer caprese style. And, despite the sweltering outside temps, I couldn’t resist snagging a sample of the tomato basil bisque, which was to die for. Savory, to be sure. But lest you worry CrushCafe is destined to be the antithesis of the buttercreamy dreaminess that abides next door, fear not: They have bread pudding on the menu. For breakfast.