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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 9:45 am | Fair 51º


Intermezzo, Wine Cask Cover All the Bases as a Delicious Destination for Food, Wine and Friendliness

After Wine Cask returns to local roots, owners Mitchell Sjerven and Doug Margerum introduce Intermezzo as a casual — but still elegant — option

Mike McGee / Noozhawk video

As locals know, Santa Barbara is a close-knit, hyperlocal community. The way you interact with that community can make or break your business.

This is one thing that successful local business owners Mitchell Sjerven of Bouchon and Doug Margerum of the Wine Cask, both current co-owners of Intermezzo and Wine Cask, know well.

“I’ve been a dishwasher, a prep cook, a line cook, a grill cook, a bus boy and a server,” Sjerven said. “I’ve worked just about every position in a restaurant, from the front of the house all the way to back.”

It was while Sjerven was working as a server at Wine Cask that he first met Margerum, his boss at the time.

Little did he know that, 20 years later, he and Margerum would co-open two restaurants and become close business partners.

Click to view larger
(Intermezzo photo)

By the late 1990s, Margerum had owned Wine Cask for 20-plus years. The restaurant at 813 Anacapa St. in the historic El Paseo was thriving and considered a favorite by many Santa Barbarans.

Still, Margerum’s wine-making dreams led him in a different direction, and he decided to sell the business in 2007.

The new owner, a restaurant professional from Los Angeles, immediately began making sweeping changes and renovations, so much so that in only a few months, the restaurant no longer resembled the beloved local hotspot it had once been.

Within a year, it was back on the market.

The opportunity led Sjerven to reach out to Margerum, and they decided to reopen the restaurant together.

“We opened in November of ’09,” Sjerven said, “It was tough time to reopen a restaurant since the recession was still in full swing, but it had a good vibe, people loved the idea that Doug was back, and people knew of me from Bouchon.”

Click to view larger
(Intermezzo photo)

The business encompasses two restaurants, Intermezzo and the Wine Cask, the courtyard between them, and the Margerum wine-tasting room.

“The local community was excited about the revival of Wine Cask, so for the next few years our main focus was mostly trying to put everything back to the way it was,” Margerum said.

Intermezzo, the newer of the two restaurants, caters to a more casual audience, reservations aren’t accepted, and it’s celebrated for its craft cocktails, local wine-on-tap and shareable plates that are perfect for groups.

“One of the main compliments we get at Intermezzo is about our service staff,” Sjerven said. “They’re awesome, friendly, knowledgeable, and often people walk out knowing their servers and bartenders by name.

“Another thing our customers love is our green wine program, which is in place at both Intermezzo and Wine Cask.”

The program consists of an innovative wine-on-tap system that encourages local wineries to place their wine in re-useable kegs to be put on tap, thereby producing zero waste and reducing the carbon footprint created by wine corks, bottles, cardboard and labels.

Click to view larger
(Intermezzo / Wine Cask photo)

To get a behind-the-scenes look at the ingredients that goes into each meal and cocktail, lucky customers can take part in what is called a “foodie stroll” at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market on State Street.

Foodie strolls are held on Tuesdays, when local “foodies” are given the rare opportunity to visit the market with the chef and help hand-pick fresh produce for the evening’s meal. The group then returns to the restaurant and the chef prepares and serves a three-course meal that features the products they themselves helped select earlier in the day.

So what do you get when you combine two local renowned restaurant and wine-making masterminds, fresh local Santa Barbara produce, and an amazingly loyal customer base?

Delicious, successful and innovative restaurants, such as Wine Cask and Intermezzo.

Click to view larger
(Intermezzo / Wine Cask photo)

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