SANTA CRUZ – Aldo’s, a restaurant that has been popular in Santa Cruz for almost 60 years, will not return to its old post atop the sea wall at Santa Cruz Harbor.
For almost 4 and a half years now, Aldo’s has been located on the lawn of Mariner Park pending the reconstruction of its new establishment. Now this reconstruction will no longer take place.
It was an iconic restaurant loved by the Santa Cruz community, âsaid Santa Cruz Port Commission Chairman Toby Goddard. “What’s not to love when you see the view of the water overlooking Monterey Bay?” It was, for me personally, a sad final, although you can still eat at Aldo’s on the lawn and it will last for a while. The local neighborhood loved this place.
The beloved restaurant was demolished in 2016, due to the need to rebuild the sea wall it was perched on. The dike was built in 1963 and was only supposed to last 25 years, according to Mauro Olivieri, the owner of Aldo.
However, the retaining wall withstood the elements for 53 years before the harbor commission decided to deconstruct it and then rebuild it. The intention in the reconstruction was to build a new Aldo on the new dike with a 40-year lease, but the financial burden of the new restaurant was placed on Olivieri.
âThe harbor district, when we started the wall, really wanted Aldo to come back,â Goddard said. “This was signaled by the 40-year lease.”
As the world has learned over the past year, things don’t always go as planned. Olivieri and the harbor commission mutually agreed to terminate the rental agreement on Tuesday.
Life threw a few bends in Olivieri’s path, which weakened his confidence in the contract. First, the COVID-19 pandemic caused financial problems for the restaurant, followed by back surgery that made it harder for Olivieri to meet contract deadlines as he recovered. As the most recent deadline approaches, he reflects on what was important to him, his family.
âWith the COVID situation as it is, it’s just become a type of thing where I have to look at myself in the mirror, ‘If something happens to you, look at what happens to your wife,â Olivieri said. “It broke my heart not to continue, but then I felt it was the right decision for my family.”
The new sea wall cost around $ 2.3 million in engineering and design, which was taken over by the harbor commission. The cost of the restaurant was another story. The estimated cost of reconstruction was over $ 3 million.
Olivieri received funding based on a pitch assessment but had to fight for a better assessment. Originally the land was valued at around $ 1.5 million, but by deliberation Olivieri was able to increase it to $ 2.57 million.
Unfortunately for the restaurant owner, the harbor commission and the rental agreement, the combination of the financial burden and twists in life caused by the cancellation of Aldo’s new home.
âCongratulations to Mauro. He worked really hard, âGoddard said. âHe worked hard to put the right people in place and get the funding together. I think it was just difficult. That’s why it was sad to me.
Although the restaurant will not return to its old position, it will continue to serve the community and watch the sailors in the harbor. Olivieri said he wants the restaurant to continue operating as long as there is someone to run it.
The family line has endured for a long time, as Olivieri now has four children and several grandchildren who are heirs to the restaurant’s heritage. In fact, the Legacy, which includes functionality on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, has been in the Olivieri family for six decades.
Aldo’s was first created in 1963 by Olivieri and his father, Aldo, his mother, Inez and his brother, Walter. Since then, the restaurant has become a hometown favorite, which Olivieri helps emphasize on great food and customer satisfaction.
âThe key is that the customer gets enough food, that they are more than satisfied and that the price is right. This is what we hope to continue, âsaid Olivieri. âThe key to good cooking is very simple. You use the best products and that’s what we do. “
Although the surveillance of the dike remains vacant, it will not be a permanent opening. The harbor commission will begin a search for a new restaurant to take Aldo’s place soon, according to Goddard.
âThe port district wants to have a restaurant for the community. It’s a great site with an amazing view and a ton of action, âGoddard said. âThe schedule is tight because there are deadlines imposed on the port commission by the Coastal Commission. It’s not unlimited, and yet it’s too early in the process to explain what’s going to happen.