An Independent Stronghold in a World of Chains
by philip scott wikel (originally published in the VC Reporter)
You’ve left LA, crowded beaches and all the pretensions of city life. You come up over the rise and away from Leo Carillo State Beach passing a surf spot called Heaven’s Reef on your left. Just another mile up the road is another slice of heaven known as Neptune’s Net, set at the base of a golden Southern California hillside.
Surfers, bikers, day-trippers and movie stars converge here in a low-key amalgam of good food, surf, sand and sun. Inside you’ll find a rush of earnest employees eager to serve the weary or otherwise smiling traveler. In the midst of this stands Arlene, a 16-year veteran of Neptune’s who, if she has the time, will fill you in on the colorful history of one of California’s last true independent beach eateries; a place not unlike the “Star Burger Cafe” in the 1978 surfing film, “Big Wednesday.”