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California Grill Freshens Look, Menu

The Freedom Boulevard restaurant has new owners and healthier entrees.

The Pajaro Valley has a great farming tradition and, starting Saturday night, diners can have an authentic farm-to-table dinner at .

Lakeside Organics founder Dick Peixoto and his daughter, Ashley, bought the restaurant in the Freedom Centre earlier this year. The Peixotos have spent the past week doing a  to the place and plan to reopen for a 7 p.m. dinner service Saturday.

"It has been a big, crazy ordeal," Ashley, 21, said as carpet cleaners worked around her Thursday afternoon.

The elder Peixoto has made a name for himself in the organic farming industry. Now, those organic veggies will be served at the family-style restaurant under his daughter's watchful eye.

"I've always wanted to go to culinary school and work in a restaurant," Ashley said. She said she's worked in the kitchen at an assisted-living facility and loves watching The Food Network.

Ashley, who grew up in Watsonville and attended Cabrillo College after high school, said she hopes to follow her dad's entrepreneurial ways. He had his own business before he graduated high school and converted his conventional farm to all organic in 1995, long before the organic trend caught hold.

The former California Grill owners had been encouraging the Peixotos to buy the restaurant for awhile. The family took over March 1 and, a week ago, shut down the eatery for the quick-and-dirty makeover: carpet, paint, lighting and deep-cleaning the kitchen.

The staff will remain the same.

"We wanted them," Ashley said.

The menu will change to include more vegetarian and kid-friendly dishes. Look for healthier options and more fresh vegetables. Ashley said they would source locally-grown mushrooms and fruits, two things not grown at her dad's farms.

Ashley said she'll be "the lady of the house" and do a bit of everything: waiting, managing and, eventually, cooking.

"I kind of just jumped into this," Ashley said, with a big smile on her face.

California Grill is at 1970 Freedom Blvd. It's open daily from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will have .

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Steve Bankhead April 07, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I'm glad to hear the previous staff will remain, so no jobs are lost. The California Grill was a favorite dining spot in Watsonville before the sale, and I also liked the earlier restaurants in that site...Country Waffles, Paul's Family Restaurant, and all the way back to Happy Steak decades ago. Great memories reside there in the past, and I expect the Peixotes to provide more happy memories in the future.
David H. Perez April 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I'm very excited to hear about the local and healthy focus this restaurant is taking. I'm sure I will be a regular customer if it is indeed as good as it sounds. I look forward to some good vegetarian options, even though I am not strictly vegetarian. I hope they will also have a wine list that includes the treasury of great wines we have in this region - particularly wines from Alfaro Family Winery, Mica Cellars, Windy Oaks Winery, Nicholsen Winery and Pleasant Valley Winery.
Cathy P. April 07, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Looking forward to having one more great dining option in town. Fresh, local produce and wines - how much better can that get? Best of luck to the Peixoto family!!!
Patricia April 07, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Best Wishes to the Peixoto family! What a treat to have another great choice in eateries. It all sounds delicious! ;-)
Rebecca Tait April 07, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Great news. A healthy, organic sit-down restaurant right here in Watsonville. I am thrilled. Lakeside Organics just seems to get bigger and more beautiful all the time. My hat is off to Mr. Peixoto and Ashley.
Pam Carrico April 08, 2012 at 01:17 AM
I drove by and saw the signs in the window...good to know the whole story. I, too, am excited to, have such great food options here in Watsonville. All the best!
Cathy P. April 09, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Did anyone go for dinner on Saturday? How was it?
Debra Sarmento April 14, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Ashley is blowing my mind! She has gone over & beond my wildest dreams for The California Grill! Love the from farm to table! Seriously, it is no wonder the locals love the Peixoto family! They love the locals!
Debra Sarmento June 27, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Come have some of the wines from Alfaro Family Winery, one of our biggest sellers!
Debra Sarmento June 27, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Looking forward to serving you!

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