By Joanna Burton

In 2009, restauranteur Matt Raab had the opportunity to open a sister restaurant to the already wildly popular Fresco Café in Santa Barbara, California. After searching for the right location to fit with Fresco’s organic and natural menu items coupled with Santa Ynez Valley residents’ insistence to have a fresh choice to call their own, the town of Solvang was chosen. After an extensive remodel of the restaurant’s location, Fresco Valley Café opened for business in September of 2010 offering a new option to a town known for its traditional Danish foods.

A Locally Sourced Marketing Strategy

In a well-known destination spot to soak up Danish culture, it’s the locals that come weekly to contribute to Fresco Valley Café’s success. “Since our opening day, we have been fortunate to have the support of the community. Regulars we see day in and day out, knowing what they’re going to order,” said Fresco Valley’s Owner/Operator Ariella Lewis. “And it is those relationships that help us through the slower seasons. Solvang is a very tourist-driven town, and we are grateful to have both ends of the spectrum in regards to customers.”

That’s not to say that Fresco Valley Café does not have its fair share of tourist traffic. Currently sitting at #1 on Trip Advisor for “American” cuisine, Fresco Valley understands the importance of tapping into this built-in demographic. In an area known for world-class wines and regional barbeque specialties, Fresco Valley found a great way to market their fresh, locally sourced and organic menu offerings to traveling foodies!

Reaching out to other local establishments since its inception, Fresco Valley has been able to secure a place in Solvang’s tourist market. They partner with surrounding hotels, local wine tasting rooms as well as wine tours of the region. It started with cheese boards and charcuterie plates for wineries, and now includes picnic-style lunch boxes and other grab-and-go options. In doing so, they found an easy and convenient avenue for travelers to enjoy a freshly prepared, healthy lunch while taking in the breathtaking landscape of the Santa Ynez Valley.

What’s On the Menu

It’s the food that keeps locals and tourists coming back. It’s their mission to use locally sourced, organic, and sustainable ingredients. When they first opened, there were very few dining options for those looking for lighter cuisine or vegetarian selections.

Fresco Valley Café’s menu highlights options that satisfy all tastes! A customer favorite is the Gorgonzola Walnut Salad. It features shaved gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts, and tomatoes and then tossed with organic mixed greens and drizzled with a bright citrus-balsamic vinaigrette. Their hearty Veggie Wrap is packed with spinach, red onion, tomato, basil, avocado, banana peppers, and goat cheese and stuffed in a soft flour tortilla.

Fear not meat-lovers, some of Fresco Valley’s most popular menu items are catered to carnivores. Offerings like the French Dip, made using tender St.Helens® Top Round Beef (#35182, 3/20# avg.) and served with a side of house-made beef au jus, is a consistent crowd-pleaser. The Koch Foods® (#34457, 4/10 LB.) chicken breasts, sourced directly from Jordano’s, are used in popular dishes including their Grilled Chicken with Pesto Sandwich. It’s topped with roasted red peppers, avocado, smoked mozzarella, and pesto aioli all on toasted sourdough bread.

In August of 2018 Fresco Valley Café was also the first to offer the plant-based powerhouse patty, The Impossible Burger® (#34849, 4/5lb.) and it quickly became a customer favorite. When this popular item became, well, impossible to find, Fresco Valley supplemented by using their in-house veggie patty. They still provide a delicious vegetarian burger option for their customers.

Partnering with Jordano’s

Owner Matt Raab credits their partnership with Jordano’s Foodservice as a critical component to their continued success. “Jordano’s provides consistent quality and service. Along with working with their amazing team is why we stay loyal to their company and give them the majority of our weekly food orders,” says Matt.

Matt and Ariella rely on Account Executive Mike Ward for innovative ideas and products that fit their menu. “I am very fortunate to work with Matt and Ari. Both owners are willing to listen to suggestions for their operation, and they know what they’re doing in regards to how they run their business,” said Mike. “I am grateful to be able to work with the Fresco Valley Café team, and hopefully that continues for years to come.”

Fresco Valley Café has the perfect recipe for healthy success. They offer American-Mediterranean, farm-to-table fusion cuisine made from locally sourced and organic ingredients. Anyone can come and enjoy a freshly prepared meal whether you live across town or the country.

Serving breakfast and lunch daily 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM at 442 Atterdag Rd. Solvang, CA 93463. Full menu available online at For catering and other inquiries, call (805) 688-8857.