Everything starts with a dream
Founded in 1947, Shadowbrook has been known for “romance in dining” since the beginning. Continue reading to discover the interesting history behind this truly unique restaurant.
The heart of Shadowbrook is a log cabin originally built as a summer home in the 1920s, and later enlarged by an English family, who added what is now known as the “Fireside Room,” with its hanging balcony and Swiss chalet decor. Eventually they sold the home to another family, who, for unknown reasons, abandoned it a few years later.
When the restaurant’s original partners discovered the house in 1944, it stood in ruin. It took those entrepreneurs three years of painstaking work to restore the structure. Then they set about hacking a steep path out of the tangled underbrush, carrying every piece of furniture and equipment down the treacherous hillside.
Finally, in the autumn of 1947, redesigned, redecorated, and with a dining capacity of 50, Shadowbrook opened for dinner. It was immediately popular. In 1958, the cable car was added. In 1972, new owners added the cupola entry and deck by the river, and replaced all furnishings with authentic antiques from the era of the original structure. For the first time in its history, the restaurant remained open year-round.
In 1978, current owners Ted Burke and his partner Bob Munsey purchased Shadowbrook. The following year, they joined the former Garden Room Annex to the main building, turning the roof into a comfortable outside cocktail deck. Two years later they enclosed the outside dining patio for year-round comfort in a greenhouse setting.
In the mid-1980s Shadowbrook’s wine cellar was added, to allow for proper storage of wines, and a significant expansion to the wine list was undertaken. A bakery was also added so that the kitchen can provide the finest in desserts and breads, including wedding cakes and the famous Orange Rolls served at Sunday Brunch.
During the late ’80s a number of improvements were made to Shadowbrook that its guests don’t see, including plumbing, wiring, and earthquake protection. The latter proved a very worthwhile investment, as Shadowbrook experienced virtually no damage during the big quake of ’89, save a broken bottle of wine or two.
In 1992 the lush hillside above Shadowbrook was landscaped with new plantings. After this was completed, the walkways were refurbished, and the old waterfall was re-established. A powerful generator was also added, enabling Shadowbrook to continue full operation, including the Cable Car, during power outages that occur occasionally during the winter months.
Fall 1994 brought the addition of the Redwood Room, which sits atop the kitchen, with a view of the chef’s herb garden. The Redwood Room’s ceiling and walls are built with an abundance of first-growth redwood, recycled and milled from large antique wine tanks.
The bar, which had been the only part of the building still in its original 1947 condition, was dark with low ceilings before. In the renovation, some ceilings were raised as much as 10 feet, and a dramatic skylight was installed to open up the space and provide more light. A food preparation area with a wood-fired oven was added to make the bar area a place for light meals. A state-of-the art sound system was installed for background music and live entertainment.
All the redwood used in the new bar was taken from large antique wine vats, which were recycled and re-milled specifically for the project.
With over 50 years of history, Shadowbrook is one of the most unique restaurants in the West. Come see for yourself.
Awards & Accolades
Diners' Choice Awards
Best Places to Kiss
- New Woman Magazine
Top 10 places Nationwide for Dining with Kids Near the Beach
Silver Spoon Award
- Gourmet Diners Club of America
Most Romantic Restaurant, Best Restaurant South Bay
- San Francisco Focus Magazine
Most Romantic Restaurant
- San Jose Mercury News
Most Romantic Restaurant, Best Service, Best Place to Take Visitors
- GoodTimes, Santa Cruz
Best Service, Most Romantic Restaurant in Santa Cruz County
- Metro Santa Cruz
Waiter of the Year, Dan Williams
- California Restaurant Association
World Stars Award
- Mumm's Champagne
BRO awards this Seal to professionals who meet the standards for quality and client satisfaction.
- BRO Seal of Approval
- All requests for donations must be made in writing and sent to: Ted Burke, Shadowbrook Restaurant, PO Box 65, Capitola, CA 95010. Donation requests on letterhead can also be faxed to (831) 475-7664. Email requests are not accepted.
- Requests should be made at least 40 days in advance of an event, as the owners meet just once a month (usually the first week of the month) to review several hundred requests.
Requests made on official letterhead stationery are preferred.
- Because of the great number of requests received, we are not always able to respond personally to each request. However, we do encourage requests in subsequent years for those whom we could not accommodate in the current year.