Chef Jessica Yarr Debuts Santa Cruz Residence, Prepares to Open Bakery for Felton

Tater tots and donuts are two specialties at The Brunch Shift

November 22, 2022 – Chicken Foot founder Jessica Yarr is on a bit of a roll.

He has three projects simmering, each with its own energetic identity. But the most kinetic thing that has happened to her might be his enduring affection for roller skating.

For a pop-up look at one of the projects, The Brunch Shift, attached a special: Anyone who arrives on “blades, board or skates” gets a free mochi donut. (The pop-up emblem, by the way, is an egg on skates delivering a tray of food.)

“For me, roller skating is such a big part of my life and such a big part of the culture of Santa Cruz, it’s part of who I am,” he says. “We are not just a surf city, we are an incredible city to see on wheels.”

Chef Jessica Yarr with two of her brunch dishes

Another part of his identity is his Ukrainian-New York heritage, which helps inspire sister operation Chicken Foot. Both Chicken Foot and The Brunch Shift, longtime popular pop-up purveyors, have a new home at ul.te.ri.or, the speakeasy-style space above Motiv on Pearl Alley in Santa Cruz.

As part of the open-ended winter residency, Chicken Foot takes place from 5-9pm Thursday through Saturday, then The Brunch Shift winds down from 10:30am-2:30pm on Sunday.

Making a splash amid COVID by making pop-up appearances with things like creative knishes and Georgian khachapuri cheese bread, Chicken Foot’s opening party comes on Thursday, December 1.

The menu leaps off the page through four courses, not counting the surprise amuse bouche and pomushki (Ukrainian garlic bread rolls). Sunchoke Sorrel Soup precedes Roasted Butternut Squash Pelmeni with Wild Mushrooms, Grated Moonflower Cheese, Smoky Cinnamon and Vadouvan Curry, Confit Chicken Thigh with Braised Jumbo Beans and Yarr’s Signature Caramelized Honey Cake with Roasted Persimmon.

Interested diners would do well to visit to reserve a spot soon ($95 each), as they are limited and will sell out.

The Sunday-only Brunch Shift action has already begun. The latest session at Pearl Alley unlocked treats like a nduja benedict, a crispy chicken confit, bacon, chilli with jam and fried egg, duck fat potato puffs, a “rainbow bowl” of quinoa tabbouleh, cauliflower and avocado and The Hot Mess with (deep breath) hash browns, kimchi, spicy cheddar cheese, gypsy peppers, jalapeno cilantro cream and farm fresh eggs.

“Brunch Shift is just about great food and bright colors and flavors,” says Yarr.

Biscuits and Gravy from The Brunch Shift

The third project shares the family DNA, namely fun + advanced plant + hyperlocal, but aspires to sink even deeper roots.

Grove Cafe Bakery will soon occupy the former Chopstix and Wylder Space in Felton.

Attractions will include campfire breads; baked goods prepared with atypical types of ingredients; extensive vegan and vegetarian options; eclectic flavors of ice cream smooth as bay; and a strong tea and coffee show starring 11th Hour Coffee, a longtime collaborator of Yarr’s (see her granola behind the glass).

“Definitely affordable,” adds Yarr. “I want to attract the locals.”

After Yarr receives the keys in January, he plans to install a wood-burning oven in the backyard to pair with redwood flagstone tables on recycled motor bases. End of February is the hopeful target schedule for him to open.

“I draw inspiration from the redwoods and the people of Felton,” says Yarr, a Felton native, “focusing a lot on my passion for baking and pastry, and trying to make it as warm and welcoming as possible.”

Learn more at and on The Brunch Shift’s Instagram feed.

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Mark C. Anderson is a writer, photographer, editor, and explorer living in Seaside, California. He reached out to @MontereyMCA via Instagram and Twitter.

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