LOCAL TASTEMAKERS: Restaurateur Tim Campbell of Cappy’s Cafe
“Local Tastemakers” is a collection of intimate interviews exploring Newport Beach’s flavor and flair through the eyes of the city’s most captivating chefs and restaurateurs during a time that has heavily impacted the restaurant and hospitality communities. Follow along every week to get to know familiar faces and the secrets to the dish that made them a locals’ favorite.
After growing up in LA’s San Fernando Valley, restaurateur Tim Campbell made an adventurous move that landed him in the tropical state of Hawaii. After three years of helping run his family’s seafood wholesaler business and two restaurant locations, Campbell developed an affection for fresh food and hospitality. This prompted his move back to Orange County, where he and his wife Sheryl now own and operate Cappy’s Cafe—an iconic Newport Beach dining landmark.
For over 38 years, Cappy’s has been a place where customers are well fed and treated like family. Specializing in all-day breakfast and lunch, Cappy’s remains a spot where Newport Beach locals and visitors enjoy service with a smile and large portions that can satisfy any appetite.
Restaurateur Tim Campbell & Cappy’s Cafe
What made you want to become a restaurateur, and what is the best part of your job?
We got into the restaurant business years ago when we moved to Hawaii to help our uncle run a fresh fish distribution business and two seafood restaurant locations called Uncle’s Fish Market and Grill. Learning how to treat our customers as “Ohana” was a key element we wanted to incorporate into our own business. We also integrated the fresh fish concept with our tasty Fish Tacos and Fish of the Day entrees.
What is the most popular thing on the menu, and what is your favorite?
The most popular items vary from a traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast to specialty dishes. People love our breakfast burrito, breakfast sandwich and made-to-order omelets! My favorite is our pancake combo with our signature fluffy pancakes, bacon, hash browns and toast. You can dress it up with fresh blueberries, strawberries or chocolate chips. Don’t forget the whipped cream!
Looking Back at 2020
Talk to us about all the ways you pivoted your operation in 2020/21.
Pivoting was not an option; it was a necessity. We jumped on the technology wave to make things extra safe at Cappy’s for our customers and team. We started using touchless thermometer equipment and installed plexiglass dividers and hand sanitizer dispensers on each table to ensure distance and cleanliness. This goes hand in hand with masks, gloves and the sanitation of surfaces. Upon the approval of outdoor dining, we installed two outdoor canopies and barricades with tables and chairs appropriately spaced. This gave customers an option to enjoy the fresh air and scenic beauty behind our restaurant.
How has this past year affected your staff?
Our staff grew very close this year, learning not to take anything for granted. Throughout this crisis, we’ve stayed committed to being there for our customers. We are fortunate to say that our team stayed together and supported each other.
The Silver Lining
What does it mean to be a part of the Newport Beach community?
It means the world to us! At Cappy’s, we take pride in seeing multi-generations come in for family celebrations. There’s such a rich history behind our restaurant. We have a blend of locals and tourists who become part of the fabric of the community during the summer months.
From a restaurant’s perspective, what’s one thing you want locals/the public to know about your industry or restaurant?
We believe the community is vital to the survival of all small businesses, not only restaurants. By placing an order online for pickup, it keeps our team working hard to enhance the experience. Gift cards and Cappy’s merchandise, such as t-shirts, jackets, hats and visors, are all available for purchase! People can support our restaurant by being patient, as we all are doing our best to get through this tough time together.
What is your ultimate hope for 2021?
Our hope for 2021 is to provide a place for the Newport Beach community to feel safe, enjoy fabulous food and be part of the Cappy’s family. We want to be a place where you can let your worries go and connect with others. We strive every day to provide the best customer service so you can come back time and time again. We wish everyone a safe and healthy New Year in our little corner of the world!