Summer at the last outpost in Cayucos

June 20, 2024


Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “The ballplayer’s Son” is currently on Amazon.

Hanging around downtown on a weekend summer morning, the line outside the new red-hot restaurant, Hidden Kitchen, with its eclectic menu – which I have once sampled and found unique and wonderful and worth the price – snaked down the sidewalk past the liquor store, the longest line I’ve ever seen at any Cayucos business in 35 years.

Outside, the Kitchen’s large patio in back was packed and exuberant with a festive European Alfresco  vibe. These people, like those in line, were casually yet stylishly attired, leaking Patagonia and Sketchers, sipping mostly bottled water and adhering to the strict health food guidelines of today. Sometimes sleek and mostly slender, possibly there were among them joggers, yogis, and some held onto the leashes of Labradoodles and French Bulldogs – physically tortured inbred pedigrees coveted by gym-toned LA types living in trendy millionaire neighborhoods.

I suppose I relate more to what I witnessed minutes later as I sat along the beach wall and observed small mini camps of tents going up among the plebeians—mostly huge families of more naturally developed Mexican Americans and their kids, erecting tents and scattering toys and blankets and chairs and kicking soccer balls while the mothers and grannies camped under monster umbrellas when they weren’t busy setting up tables of food from huge chests (if they weren’t cooking) and cuddling babies or little Chihuahua dogs.

A smaller crowd of stouter than stout white folks and their already stout little children from inland places like Paso Robles, Atascadero and of course Fresno and its environs, sporting tattoos and ball caps with American flags, also backed their huge SUVs and pickup trucks up to the seawall sidewalk and unloaded a seemingly endless mass of toys, chairs, food, tents, towels, blankets, athletic equipment, ocean gear; and, in a weary, trudging caravan, toted their goods down to areas soon secured for a day of eating and drinking everything in sight, and, when they weren’t checking smart phones, maybe throwing a football to their boys or playing catch with a daughter appearing to be a future softball star.

In assessing the entire menagerie, I wondered who was happier—the white Valley slugs, the portly Mexicans, or the finicky clients of the Hidden Kitchen whom I trust wouldn’t set foot beside the rollicking hordes on the beach.

I think it’s the Mexicans. Their devotion to family is heart warming. The mothers, abundant from multiple childbearing, seem uncomplicated in their maternal roles, at ease with their children, affectionate but not doting, and pretty much allow these children and their husbands to be who they are. How many of them are legal, I don’t know, though the primary language is Spanish. But what is obvious is that they proudly do the dirty jobs in the country, register little complaint, and relish the small rewards shared with family.

Does it get any better than that? And we want to kick these people out of the country?

The Mexican people on this beach remind me of my neighborhood in Compton where I grew up in the 1950s, when it seemed everybody had enough but nobody had too much, we were largely unsupervised, our mothers were always at home, which gave us a security blanket, while our fathers were thankfully working long hours and out of our hair.

It also occurred to me that very few of these people on the beach – white or brown – read, or look like they read anything at all, and would certainly never read anything I would ever write on CalCoastNews or anywhere else, while there’s a very good chance those fancy pants at the Hidden Kitchen would, and might like what I have to say, though not this specific piece. Oh no.

As for locals? Well, most of what remains in this hollowed out last outpost would avoid this scene as if it was a plague, and change their hiking and dog walking routes along the shore near the pier to far south, down by the 24th Street parking lot, a refuge away from the riffraff, where it is safe and clean and they can commingle among their own.


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I miss Skippers….

“Fresnoids ‘n Bakeos”, yeah I got it, but to note, have never met someone from there I did not like. Let’s cut these overheated valley folk a break. No easy coastal judgments. BTW everyone coastal south of Avila is a “ladrão de galinha”, chicken stealer.

When a was a kid, my dad wouldn’t drive south of Santa Barbra, so I didn’t experience LA until I was twenty and I have no desire to go south of AG.

I’ve finally learned from reading Del for years. Locals=Bad. People from Fresno=horrible. Old drunks that have never owned a home but somehow live in Cayucos=geniuses.

Not sure where you got that sardonic syrup, Dell, but you spilled it all over your essay.

Typical of this guy. Lotta politically safe judgements.

Del is the Ernest Hemmingay of the central coast. Always captivated by his writings. And visits at Schooners.

I sense a bias here, Dell.

A famous quote by Mark Twain states “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

When we examine our inclinations and align them with the majority, it is crucial to ask ourselves: Are we genuinely convinced of our stance, or are we merely following the crowd?