Betsy Clapp and her family sailed the California coast from Eureka to Ventura in 1981. About the same time, Lynn Merriam and her husband made the boat trip from Canada to Ventura.

Both families docked in Ventura Harbor and lived next to each other on their respective vessels. As neighbors, Merriam and Clapp became friends. Merriam, former owner of an award-winning Canadian restaurant, got a job as a chef on the oil platforms off the Channel Islands. Clapp was soon working alongside her.

Now the two have gone into the coffeehouse business together. Their new beachside venture, Full of Beans, is scheduled to open next week at 1124 S. Seaward Ave., in Ventura's Pierpont area.

The Full of Beans menu will include specialty hot and iced coffee drinks (including an espresso milkshake), teas, ice cream, authentic Italian sodas and fresh baked goods. Lavish desserts for the night crowd are in the offing. Gift items, magazines, books and coffee beans will also be for sale.

One menu item that's destined to be a hit: the Jegeskave. That's Hungarian for a double shot of espresso over vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Full of Beans will open daily at 6 a.m.


If you blinked, you may have missed Ventura's Desert Rose Cafe and Cantina transform into Yolie's Fresh Mex Grill. The restaurant, with its remodeled patio, brighter decor and lighter cooking, reopened last week. An official grand opening is planned for mid-April.

Owner Rod Gietzen also owns Yolanda's Mexican Restaurant in Oxnard and Ventura, and Yolie's Mexican Cafe at Oxnard's Esplanade Mall.

Michael Lind, general manager of the restaurants, said the new Yolie's will incorporate the traditional Mexican fare the other restaurants are known for, with a new slant toward grilled, rather than deep-fried dishes.

"The recipes for traditional dishes like carnitas , huevos rancheros and fajitas are the same as Yolanda's," he said. "And we're adding new things like grilled tortas , grilled vegetable quesadillas and a charbroiled tri-tip burrito."

Lind said the new restaurant would also feature a fresh salsa bar. "We looked at what everybody is doing, calling themselves 'fresh,' " he said. "Hey, we've always been fresh, so we figured we'd push that."

Yolie's Fresh Mex Grill is at 26 S. Garden St.

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