Family-owned and -operated Cool Cat Café’s newest location offers the purrfect spot for watching the big game, grabbing a burger and craft beer, or taking in the sights and sounds of Pismo Beach.
Father-and-son team Steve and Sean Corpuel opened the first Cool Cat Café on Broad Street in San Luis Obispo 22 years ago. They added a second site in Maui 12 years ago.
In July 2013, a third Cool Cat location was unveiled in Pismo Beach. It’s co-owned by Sean Corpuel’s daughter, Devyn Corpuel.
The beachfront eatery, located just up from the Pismo pier, channels the playful Cool Cat concept of “James Dean meets the Big Bopper meets the Hang Ten surf crowd,” and the black, white and red color scheme underscores a 1950s/’60s diner feel. High ceilings and big windows in the main room and bar let in the California sun, while the rear dining space offers a great view of the beach and the pier.
Devyn Corpuel explained that the large bar area at this location — for many years the site of Chele’s Food & Spirits — allowed the family to add a sports element to the Cool Cat mix. There are a dozen flat screen televisions, but most are focused towards the bar so diners don’t necessarily have to join the rooting section.
The full bar is complemented by 16 taps of rotating drafts, most of them craft brews such as Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, Figueroa Mountain’s Davy Brown Ale and Deschutes’ Cinder Cone Red.
As for food, burgers are arguably the cat’s meow here. Hand-formed from fresh Angus beef, the third-pound patties are served on buns from Edna’s Bakery in San Luis Obispo.
Favorites include a western-inspired “The Duke” with bacon and onion rings, the “Don Ho” with pineapple and sweet Hawaiian sauce, and the “Marilyn” with Jack cheese and an Ortega pepper. In addition, a new creation is showcased each month — most recently a “Viva El Cubano” burger with ham and pulled pork.
Other sandwiches range from a hot and spicy “Great Balls of Fire” chicken option to a “Porky Pig” shredded pork version to a “Rockin’ Robin” turkey melt. To skip the turf and head for the surf, reel in a blackened fish sandwich, fish and chips or fish tacos served either grilled or beer-battered and deep-fried, Baja-style.
Vegetarians can enjoy selections featuring a GMO-free, gluten-free, soy-free veggie burger, and several salads are also available, all with your choice of housemade dressings.
Sides and starters include fries and onion rings (as well as a “frings” combo option), baby back ribs and chicken strips, housemade chili and — of course, this being Pismo Beach — clam chowder.
For heartier appetites, there are entrées served with garlic bread and your choice of chowder or salad, plus rice, fries or baked potato. Opt for a 12-ounce ribeye, a teriyaki sirloin steak or a barbecue chicken and ribs combo.
Cool Cat’s dessert department stays true to the diner-meets-the-beach vibe with a full-on “shake station” where you can order hand-blended, build-your-own shakes, specialty shakes and even “adult shakes” such as the “B-52” with Bailey’s and Kahlua.
By all accounts, the new beachfront location is a perfect fit for this latest incarnation of the Corpuel family’s Cool Cat Café.
“We’re starting to get a lot more locals here,” Devyn Corpuel said. “We’re still looking to expand to a bigger location (in San Luis Obispo), but when this opened up, we knew we wanted to take it.”
Cool Cat Café
198 Pomeroy Ave., Pismo Beach
773-1020 | www.coolcatcafe.com
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; happy hour Monday-Friday 3-6 p.m. and 8 p.m.-close
The scene: A 1950s-style diner vibe best described as “James Dean meets the surf crowd”; various seating areas offer a view of the pier, indoor dining and a sports bar atmosphere.
The cuisine: Classic burgers, sandwiches, salads and starters, plus full entrées, a “shake station” and a full bar and 16 rotating taps.
Expect to spend: Most items under $10, entrées $16-$22, combos under $30, shakes start at $6.