An interview with Ted Burke of Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola, California Destinations | Travel Zone by Best Western

An interview with Ted Burke of Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola, California

By Mer Norwood
Photo by Shadowbrook Restaurant.

Ted Burke is the current owner of the Shadowbrook Restaurant. He worked his way up from busboy to owner more than 50 years ago. We sat down to talk to him about the uniqueness of Shadowbrook Restaurant, a beloved establishment in the Capitola, California community.


What made you stay at Shadowbrook for as long as you have?

Photo by Shadowbrook Restaurant.

Ted: This is a very unique place that when I explain it, won’t surprise you why I’ve been here for so long. This is a special occasion restaurant. Every community or nearly every community has something like this where everybody goes for birthdays, anniversaries, first communions, graduation, mom’s visiting from Kentucky, whatever it might be, right? And Shadowbrook is that not only for Santa Cruz, but also for areas over the hill ­– San Jose, Los Gatos.

What does that mean? That means people come here, already excited and happy. Our job is simple. Don’t screw it up. We don’t have to create a special occasion for them, it’s already there. When we see people leave every night with happy faces, that’s what it’s all about, and that happens every night, all the time. I have never tired of it.


Shadowbrook creates unique experiences, from getting picked up by a 1950s taxi cab at your Best Western Plus Capitola-by-the-Sea Inn & Suites to riding up the cable car to the restaurant. What inspires these ideas?

Photo by Shadowbrook Restaurant.

Ted: We tried to find something that was fitting for the age of this place and can be fun for people. Everything here is something you don’t see – it’s unique. We wanted to make the shuttles just a little bit unique.

Photo by Shadowbrook Restaurant.

What makes Shadowbrook timeless?

Photo by Shadowbrook Restaurant.

Ted: It’s a great question. And I don’t know if this is a good answer. We try, but we don’t try to be cutting-edge. We try to be relevant. But we never forget this building, we respect that still. There’s also a part of this place that has a very intangible element to it; it’s just a feeling that we didn’t create it. It’s always been here. In fact, when the owners in 1947 opened it up, it already had a theme of romance and dining. And that still is the theme today.


What makes Shadowbrook one of the most romantic restaurants in the country?

Photo by Shadowbrook Restaurant.

Ted: There was a New York magazine, and they had an article in there, where Shadowbrook was mentioned – “The top 10 Best Places to Kiss on the Left Coast”. There were iconic places, like the Seattle Space Needle, Golden Gate Bridge, places like that. They were all listed, and then there was us and our cable cars. What’s really funny was it was the only one that had an editorial note next to it. The text read: “The most romantic restaurant in the galaxy.” People have been known to ask people to marry them. People have been known to propose to people they don’t even like! There’s an intangible element here. There just is.


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