Zizzo’s – Not Just a Coffee Shop!

Disco Ball at Zizzo's

Disco Ball at Zizzo’s

The Disco Ball beckoned. As though a spell was cast on me, I was drawn to the section of the place that held an intimacy not shared by the front of the café. It is more of a bistro than the coffee shop I thought was Zizzo’s.

I remember when they opened as a coffee shop several years ago. I wondered how many coffee bars little ole Capitola could handle. After all, they were right down the street from the ever-popular Starbucks. I moved to Costa Rica and didn’t give it another thought.

Four years later I moved back to Capitola and met two adorable, interesting, animated surfer-dudes at a yard sale. David and Andrew were charming, funny, and full of mischievous energy. We had so much fun kibitzing that they invited me to join their Friday group.

David said, “Hey, you’re a lot of fun. Why don’t you join us at Zizzo’s? A bunch of us meet there every Friday at 5:30. Come. You’ll fit right in.”

I was flattered that these young men would be interested in having me join them. I guess my senior citizen status wasn’t apparent – or they simply didn’t care.

“Zizzo’s?!” I cried. “That’s a coffee shop. On a Friday night? Whaddya do, bring your own flask?”

Nothing more was said. I smiled, picked up my purchases, two gorgeous baskets for which I paid ten bucks, and I heard David yell after me, “Don’t forget. Zizzo’s, Friday at 5:30!”

I did not make it that Friday as I went out of town for a couple of weeks. Much to my surprise, there was a voicemail on my phone, which I hadn’t noticed for a couple of weeks, asking me why I wasn’t at Zizzo’s. David’s warm, inviting voice rekindled my interest, and here it was Friday again, I was in town, and toyed with the idea of going.

At 5:20, I stopped working, donned my jeans, black top, and leather jacket (my casual “going out” uniform). I know it’s hard to believe, but I do have a shy side – especially walking into a new place alone where I don’t know anybody. At 5:30 sharp, I walked into Zizzo’s. I was taken aback. The atmosphere was friendly and inviting. A pleasant lady behind the counter greeted me with a smile.  I explained I was looking for some friends, named David and Andrew. She pointed to a table near the entrance, “That is where they sit. I’m sure they will be here soon.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks. I’ll come back in a few minutes then. What’s your name?”


And I dashed out the door to check out the little strip center which had changed immensely since I had left Capitola in 2011. There was a sushi bar, a Chinese restaurant (love Chinese), upscale boutiques, upscale EVERYTHING! Where did all the hippy-dippy places go? Things had changed. Bed Bath and Beyond is there as well as Trader Joe’s. We have arrived little Capitola-by-the-Sea!

When I returned to Zizzo’s fifteen minutes later I still didn’t see my two new friends. What I did see astounded me. How did I miss tall this the first time? Oh, and a wine bar? I had been so focused on finding David and Andrew, I was blinded to the environment. The energy of the place had changed in the fifteen minutes I was absent. People were filing in with musical instruments. The bar-stools were full. There were people seated on the comfy couch in the back section where the piano was.

Piano?! With seats built in around it? A real piano bar? As I settled into the high-top table in the corner and relaxed into the space (I always feel conspicuous when I’m in a restaurant alone) I whipped out my notebook so I could hide behind it (my security blanket). It was only then that the dancing lights from the rotating Disco Ball grabbed me. I slowly rolled my head up to the ceiling and there it was – the mother of all Disco Balls!

As more and more people filtered in, they all seemed to know each other. New arrivals were greeted with hugs and smiles. I felt like the proverbial fly-on-the-wall. The place was full, the guitarist and pianist were tuning their instruments, guests were sipping wines or exotic coffees and munching on exquisite-looking small platesI was happily sipping my house Chardonnay, which was delivered by a friendly charming man who, unbeknownst to me, was the owner, Aaron.

It wasn’t until Christine, who I found out was the other owner, was looking around to seat a newcomer. I realized the only vacant seat in the house was the bar-stool at my table. I turned to face her, “This seat is available. Please join me.” And down sat Susan!

The effervescent Susan and I started chatting as though we were long lost cousins. Within minutes, I learned the group gathered was none other than the Pacific Voices Choir! No wonder. When the pianist, Richard, who by-the-way has the most extraordinary bass, oh excuse medouble bass – voice I have ever heard, outside of Barry White, gave a slight nod, the audience sang along. And sang well.

The repertoire was eclectic- everything from “Turn, Turn,Turn” to a magical version of “If I Only Had a Brain.”

I was awed by the talent in the room, not to mention the camaraderie. As Susan put is so aptly, “We are not so much a choir as a community.”

As though to validate this, the table next door passed their plate of Caprese to share. Susan invited me to share her chicken/avocado flatbread – all delicious and perfectly presented!

I was swept away with the ambiance, the energy, and the ease with which the group flowed from one number to another.

Some of my favorite moments: the captivating acapella number, the permed white-haired lady rocking out to “Takin’ It To The Streets,” the quiet guy who silently sat at the bar and two hours in sauntered to the mic and played an amazing harmonica. Oh, and I loved Bongo-Man, who added a deep layer to the mix not only with percussion, but with a piano horn. Seniors rock!

By the end, even yours truly was singing along. Those of you who know me will attest to my strengths – writing, dancing, cooking. Singing, not so much. I have been called a Muppet Singer – but nobody seemed to notice. Or care.

The group will be performing their Winter Concert in Santa Cruz on December 19 and 20. I will be there. Join me!

As to Zizzo’s, I will be back often. Thanks David and Andrew, for getting me there! Hope to see youz some Friday.

Christine and Aaron

Christine and Aaron – Creators of Zizzo’s




9 thoughts on “Zizzo’s – Not Just a Coffee Shop!

  1. I want some of that fun! Count me in for the 19th! How can I have lived here so many years and not known about Zizzo’s and here you are, new to town again, and finding all the fun spots. Keep the posts coming girl friend.


  2. Hi CJ, I have been enjoying your travels and travails for a few years. I think you pointed out Poco Cielo in Atenas, which i then stayed out. We have some things in common. I moved to SF in 1973 and Costa Rica in 2011. The Carol Doda piece touched me. I went to North Beach a 1000 times. Boci Ball in circa 1960 was a favorite during college days. I Long for places like Zizzo’s and places with shared tables here in CR and the U.S.I found such a place in Playa Coco. I want to hear more re Capitola area too. . My new Tica wife may be offered a high paying job in the U.S, so I may be leaving Ticaland in a year or so.



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