Andrew Sivak is the co-owner and founder of Bad Animal, part restaurant, part second-hand bookstore in downtown Santa Cruz. Sivak and his business partner Jess LoPrete grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and have remained friends over the years. They initially followed separate career paths: LoPrete became executive chef in San Francisco before moving to Santa Cruz, where Sivak had worked on his doctorate. in History of Consciousness at UCSC – he also lit the moon as a book scout for Logos. When Logos shut down, Sivak saw what he describes as a “possibility condition.” In 2019, he reconnected with his longtime bandmate from Michigan and opened Bad Animal. He defines the popular spot as “elegant and literary without being pretentious”, like an old-world library with a restaurant tucked away in it. The restaurant is a culinary artist-in-residence program that features up-and-coming local chefs; a platform for new talent to be recognized.
Bad Animal is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. (dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). GT caught up with Sivak recently to learn more about this unique venture.
How would you describe Bad Animal?
ANDREW SIVAK: We’re a Thai restaurant and natural wine bar housed in a sprawling rare second-hand bookstore. Here you can browse the stacks as the music plays with a glass of wine in your hand, handle rare manuscripts while drunk, then sit down to a fabulous meal. It is less a concept than a way of life.
How has your degree helped companies?
Overall, this is not the case. The modern academic is first and foremost a bureaucratic animal, and there’s not much about building a small business that utilizes this skill set. Yes, we sometimes have to deal with big bureaucracies, but it’s not the kind of place that holds committee meetings to schedule more meetings. Running Bad Animal on a day-to-day basis requires a work ethic, ingenuity, in-depth knowledge, discipline, and charisma completely alien to campus life.
1011 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz, 831-900-5031; badanimalbooks.com.