Rosie McCann’s proudly
wears the color 365 days a year
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEN PAYTON
Locavore pub: Organic, local ingredients go into the family-friendly food prepared by
chef Cervando Maya as well as the drinks served in Rosie McCann’s remodeled lounge.
There’s an Irish proverb that says, “Is túisce deoch ná scéal”: A drink precedes a story. At Rosie McCann’s, the Irish pub and restaurant that’s been a staple in Santa Cruz for more than 20 years, this is the experience for any patron who climbs the steep steps off of Pacific Avenue for a pint or a bite.
Not to say that you go in for a beer and leave knowing the life story of the guy sitting next to you (although that could happen). Rather, Rosie’s leads with simple hospitality—great service, a varied menu including all the traditional Irish favorites, an endless beer and whiskey list—and a dedication to the community that is a story in itself.
“We want to provide food and an environment that we would bring our own family to,” says Amy Bassi, assistant to Mina Shamsaei owner of the family business, which also includes a second restaurant on Santana Row in San Jose. “We’re really trying to meet the needs of the community.”
Rosie McCann’s is one of just nine restaurants awarded Green Certification by the City of Santa Cruz for its efforts to reduce waste and conserve water and electricity.
In Santa Cruz, meeting the needs of the community also means using quality ingredients. Everything on the menu, from fish ’n’ chips to a grass-fed burger, is sourced with health and sustainability in mind— local organic produce and natural meat and seafood that are free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Since buying the restaurant in 1996, Shamsaei and executive chef Cervando Maya have shopped at the downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market, staying on top of seasonality and drawing inspiration from the city’s vibrant food culture.
Shamsaei and Maya also tap into their own cultural backgrounds (Persian and Mexican, respectively) and beyond to create an internationally diverse menu that includes Thai curry, quesadillas and seared ahi salad in addition to Irish classics like corned beef and cabbage or shepherd’s pie. “Our kitchen is the core of the restaurant,” Bassi says, beaming.
Maya trained his staff from the beginning to not trim any corners. All fries are hand cut, all burger buns and bread made freshly and all desserts made in house (so you can feel good about indulging in the Guinness-Ghirardelli chocolate cake). “The kitchen takes pride in making the food, and the staff takes pride in serving it,” says general manager Kim Shankland.
The space itself is a delightful surprise—a large, open and sunny dining room with cozy booths and tables that overlook Pacific Avenue; a bar with ample seating featuring more than 25 beers on tap and an impressive cocktail list; and a newly remodeled lounge where you can enjoy a rotating list of events like live music and comedy nights. “We get to be a lot of different things,” Shankland says, “a pub where you can drink and have fun, but also a family-friendly restaurant where you can get great service and a healthy meal.”
“Céad míle fáilte: 100,000 welcomes” is the slogan Rosie McCann’s uses proudly—a statement that is most in effect on the day of days, St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s like our Christmas!” Shankland says. “We’re preparing for it all year.” Live music in the lounge, green beer and all the traditional Irish favorites are just a few of the offerings that make it the place to be on March 17. Rosie McCann’s also kicks off the celebration early with a St. Patty’s Day Eve celebration on March 16 for families or those who want to avoid the crowds.
St. Patrick’s Day is a festive day of fun and, often, excess. Why not support a Green Certified business while drinking whiskey with your Black and Tans and feasting on corned beef? Shankland promises all hands on deck to ensure a safe yet proper celebration. They’ll pour the drinks, you share the stories.
Rosie Parker, a native New Englander, likes to complain of missing home while living the Santa Cruz high life—surfing, hiking, writing and working for a delicious craft brewery.
1220 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz