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EATS: in and around Ventura County | TIDBITS

Big City Move

Restaurateur leaves tiny Oak View for a busier locale in Ventura--and more traffic.


It's taking restaurateur Gerry Hassenflug a little time to get used to being a commuter.

For eight years the owner of Gerry's Busy Oak Cafe traveled the short distance--all of two blocks--from her home in Oak View to her diner in Oak View.

But that daily routine recently became an Oak View to Ventura affair.

"I'm not used to all the traffic," Hassenflug said. "It took me 15 minutes to get to Kmart from the restaurant and it's just a block away."

Hassenflug didn't move her home; she moved her diner.

The new Gerry's Busy Oak Cafe opened for business last week in the Ralphs shopping center on South Victoria Avenue. It replaces the original Gerry's in Oak View, which shut down in late December.

Regulars of the Busy Oak--and there are many--aren't likely to notice a whole lot of changes at the restaurant.

Once diners settle into their new surroundings, Hassenflug said she may institute some minor menu changes to meet new demands. Other than that, most of the alterations at the Busy Oak will be in the way of service.

Hassenflug has extended her hours (the place is now open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily) to accommodate neighboring shop owners and their patrons who have less predictable schedules than the residents of Oak View. And within a few months she plans to offer free delivery to attract employees at the Ventura County Government Center.

As excited as Hassenflug is about the possibilities of her new place, it wasn't easy leaving the old, familiar Oak View surroundings.

"I miss being up there--it's a little kick-back town," she said. "But too many restaurants are beginning to be built up there and there's still just the same amount of people. With wages going up and rent going up, I thought I'd better move now."


* Gerry's Busy Oak Cafe, 1437 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura.

Heart-y Fare: Suzanne's Cuisine in Ojai will probably be packed for Valentine's Day, so if you're interested, it might be a good idea to reserve a table for two.

The restaurant will be serving a pre fixe menu that will include a first course, an entree, dessert and a glass of champagne for $45 per person. Along with dishes from the regular menu, several special romance-themed selections will be available.

Look for a Lover's Salad (which includes ingredients in pairs--two artichoke hearts, two cherry tomatoes--to be shared by the loving couple) and a dessert choice of chocolate fondue for two with fruit and cheese puffs for dipping or a lemon-berry heart tart.

This year, for the first time, Suzanne's will present each couple with handmade paper boxes filled with chocolates.

* Suzanne's, 502 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Dinner, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (805) 640-1961.


Latin Favorites: Doug Rodriguez, owner and executive chef of Patria in New York City and Aquarela in Puerto Rico will share three recipes from his new cookbook, "Latin Ladles," and two dishes from his 1995 debut book, "Nuevo Latino," in a class Feb. 3 at the Let's Get Cookin' culinary school in Westlake Village.

Rodriguez' menu will include a Honduran tuna ceviche with fresh coconut milk, ginger, chile and spices; a Guatemalan white corn posole with port, tomatillos, cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds; a Peruvian shrimp stew; a Latin chicken soup with peppers, lime juice and orange juice; and Colombian corn cakes.

* Let's Get Cookin', 4643 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village. Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m. $65. (818) 991-3940.

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