August 23, 2018 – Fans of Assembly restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz were shocked to learn that Sunday, August 19 was the last day of business for the popular farm-to-table restaurant.
Created by chef Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis, Assembly was the go-to spot for events such as the Santa Cruz Warriors season openers, family celebrations and marriage proposals, and most recently, the official launch of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs. The restaurant has always been a strong supporter of Edible Monterey Bay and graciously hosted a release party for our winter 2016 issue.
Assembly opened four and a half years ago, offering farm-to-table cuisine with flair and panache. Baker and Davis posted an open letter on the Assembly website, thanking customers, farmers and employees for their support, and hinting at a new project.
“With love and thanks, The Glass Jar Restaurant Family announces two milestones in its growth and evolution: the closure of Assembly restaurant and the opening of a new Penny Ice Creamery location in early 2019,” the letter begins.
Davis says the decision to close Assembly was made to focus on the new store, as well as other, as yet unspecified, Glass Jar projects. There was also the necessity to carve out more time for personal life—both Baker and Davis welcomed new additions to their respective families during Assembly’s tenure. “We still want to have fun, and this allows us to unleash our energy and creativity in new directions,” Davis told EMB.
All Assembly employees will have new positions in the company, Davis says. He notes that they still have the Pacific Avenue space where Assembly was, and hope to have another announcement about that sometime in the next two months.
The closing of Assembly, though, is bittersweet. “We had a 16-person party come in on Sunday, three generations, and that was exactly the kind of customers that we planned for when we opened Assembly,” says Davis. “Of course, they didn’t know it was our last day.”
Baker and Davis are also the powerhouses behind The Picnic Basket and The Penny Ice Creamery, which they opened in 2010 to offer artisanal made-from-scratch ice cream. Kendra, the former executive pastry chef at Manresa, and Zach, an operations director at a San Francisco startup, dreamed up the ice cream venture, which has become a hit at two locations, downtown Santa Cruz and on Pleasure Point.
The new Penny Ice Creamery is due to open in spring 2019 in Aptos Village, a mixed-use project that integrates affordable housing with stores and restaurants situated around a village green, where people can walk to shop or enjoy a bite to eat.
“It’s a really well-thought-out project,” says Davis, who confirmed that all the shops will be local. The anchor tenant, New Leaf Market, is due to open early next year, and along with The Penny Ice Creamery, others include Cat & Cloud coffeehouse, and a new concept by Santa Cruz resident David Kinch, owner/chef of the three Michelin starred Manresa restaurant and the New Orleans-themed Bywater in Los Gatos.
The new Penny Ice Creamery and other shops will be on the ground floor of Building 3, with condominiums above, providing a built-in clientele.
“It really appealed to us from the beginning,” says Davis, who notes that he and Baker applied five years ago to be a tenant there. “The developer, Barry Swenson Builder, wanted local businesses in there, and he really proved that.”