Our Woman of the Week this week, Ashley Bernardi, is the owner of recently opened Sotola Bar & Grill. She grew up in Santa Cruz and always loved hanging out in the village, especially during her young adult years. Some of us may even know her as a long-time barista at Grinds Coffee!
For years, Ashley talked with her best friend about opening up a local deli, and she started the culinary program at Cabrillo while working at Grinds. Her husband of ten years, Adam, was also interested in becoming a food purveyor. So when the Stockton came up for sale, they decided to jump on it.
They took over in mid-September and their doors were open by the first weekend of December. The laid-back vibe and farm-fresh menu blend mellow village culture with high-quality, farmstead food. A few of the local farms they source from include New Natives, Fogline, and Route One.
Ashley grew up eating processed foods and her interest in the culinary world, including her time at Grinds, taught her about fresh, local, and healthy ingredients. “I had to grow my own appreciation for what is best for my body and my community,” she points out.
She loves to travel and grew up going on trips with her family around California. As she got older, her trips to places like Costa Rica and the British Virgin Islands exposed her to other cultures and their food heritage—specifically the sourcing of local, fresh ingredients. Although it’s hard to get away with a new business underfoot, Ashley still enjoys staycations: doing things around town, going to the beach, and getting out on bikes with the kids.
With two kids, an eight-year-old daughter named Kirra and a five-year-old son named Kai, Ashley wants to make sure to provide a strong foundation that will give them a healthy outlook on life and an appreciation for hard work and all the little things we are blessed with here in Santa Cruz. She also wants to be an advocate for other women in business; many of her neighboring businesses are owned by women, and she hopes to collaborate with them in the future.
“Community is everything to me,” she says, “I’m very honored to have been born and raised here.”
People might be surprised to know that Ashley has quite a few tattoos, and sometimes she can be caught in her Vans and a tank top, so if you stop by early enough you might get a glimpse! Tattoo sighting or not, Tuesday night sounds like a good time to check the place out. It’s neighborhood night, locals get half off appetizers and bar bites… and happy hour goes all night!
Please join us in congratulating our Woman of the Week. Ashley, we think you’re W.O.W. and we celebrate you!