Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 7:19 pm | Fair 68º

 
 
 
 
Food

Lompoc’s Scratch Kitchen Cooks Up Loyal Fan Base

Year-old restaurant's fresh fare goes hand in hand with owners’ devotion to local wine, beer and cider

Scratch Kitchen co-owner/chef Augusto Caudillo says he is just as content to be working behind the bar and greeting customers. Click to view larger
Scratch Kitchen co-owner/chef Augusto Caudillo says he is just as content to be working behind the bar and greeting customers. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

Even before it opened for business in May 2015, Scratch Kitchen was the word on the street in Lompoc.

The owners’ clever use of Facebook photos to highlight both their interior remodel of the former Don Pepe Mexican eatery and the food they planned to serve ignited an online following, and diners were eager to dig in when Scratch opened at 610 N. H St.

Its owners are Lompoc residents Augusto Caudillo; his wife, Shauna; and his sister and brother-in-law, Anna Caudillo and Gonzalo Pacheco. Before they opened Scratch, Caudillo and Pacheco both worked at Lucky’s Steakhouse in Montecito — Pacheco as chef and Caudillo as pastry/brunch chef.

In addition, Caudillo, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, and a graduate of Dos Pueblos High School, had stints as bistro chef at Montecito Country Club, as chef at Seattle’s ​now-closed Bako and Dargan’s Irish Pub and as sous chef at Brendan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Camarillo. He studied his craft at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

“I’m here part of every day, but my goal is to be more of a general manager,” Caudillo said of his role.

When he and Pacheco opened their doors, the latter was “doing double duty at Lucky’s and Scratch. When he left Lucky’s to be here full time, that freed me up to help tend bar, wait tables and greet customers,” Caudillo explained. “The most fun is greeting people. A lot of our regular customers are now our friends.”

Scratch features farm-to-table local ingredients, with chicken, pork chops, steaks, salmon and ahi on the menu. Hand in hand with Scratch’s fresh food is the owners’ devotion to local wine, beer and cider.

Caudillo and bar manager/wine director Keith Parker have earned Scratch a reputation as a place for Central Coast producers to showcase their wares.

“Since most of the county’s wine industry production is in Lompoc, we frequently have two or three winemakers in here for lunch,” Parker noted.

Once harvest winds down, Scratch will restart its traditional Thursday evening “Pop-Up” tastings, during which a featured winemaker pours two or three selections paired with a Scratch appetizer.

During harvest, the pop-ups will instead feature craft beer and brew masters, Parker said.

Bar manager/wine director Keith Parker with the 2015 Scratch Kitchen grenache blanc available at the eatery.
Bar manager/wine director Keith Parker with the 2015 Scratch Kitchen grenache blanc available at the eatery. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

Parker, a native of New Hampshire, moved west to work in the wine industry. After several vintages in the cellar at Babcock Winery, he brings winemaking skills to the restaurant industry, and with Caudillo has produced a Scratch Kitchen label available at the restaurant.

Their first vintage is small — just 40 cases of 2015 grenache blanc from grapes grown at Tierra Alta Vineyard in Ballard Canyon. This year, the two plan to procure grenache from Jorian Hill Vineyards and syrah from Demetria Vineyard and blend the two for the 2016 release, Parker said.

Scratch is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. for happy hour and from 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and for brunch, happy hour and dinner Sunday.

Brunch is a rarity in Lompoc, so Scratch’s 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. offering usually draws a crowd for the a la carte or buffet selections. Oh, and the bottomless mimosas, too.

Lompoc remains a “challenging demographic” for any restaurant, Parker noted.

“We might be full on a Tuesday by 6 p.m. and quiet on a Friday,” he said. However, “the first year in a restaurant is the hardest, and we have survived.”

On the horizon for Scratch are a line of jams and jellies made from local pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, the return of the “Dinner Club” — home delivery of hot meals that was ​Caudillo’s primary business before Scratch — and his efforts with the Scratch Kart, his traveling grill and spit on which he whips up tacos, roasted pigs and more at various wineries and tasting rooms.

With a laugh, Caudillo said of his long days: “I’d rather be exhausted than broke.”

Click here for more information about Scratch Kitchen, or call 805.819.0829.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

Grits and sausage are part of Scratch Kitchen’s Sunday brunch a la carte menu. Click to view larger
Grits and sausage are part of Scratch Kitchen’s Sunday brunch a la carte menu. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

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