It’s All Good Bar and Grill
533 E. Main St., Ventura
M-F 6 p.m.-2 a.m.
Sa 2 p.m.-2 a.m.
Su 2 p.m.-11 p.m.
Midnight breakfast at 12 a.m.   Th-Sa

The concept sounded fantastic. Perusing a recent edition of this paper I discovered an ad from It’s All Good Bar and Grill in Downtown Ventura for a new midnight breakfast service.

Now that’s what this city needs. There are far too few options to load up on grease, salt and carbs for the thousands of revelers who now make Downtown a regular weekend destination.

You’d think this city would have one hamburger joint open past midnight, one slice of pizza available (Mr. Pizza being an idiosyncratic exception) late into the evening or one burrito place serving until the wee hours. Yet, for whatever reason that is not the case.

Thus, Kathryn Ahern Sumner and Lisa Brashear’s scrappy little bar was onto something when it devised its midnight breakfast service. Bacon and eggs have been long time night owl staples. As it turns out, It’s All Good offers far more than bacon and eggs, with French toast, pancakes, chicken fried steak and a number of other specialties at a venue that otherwise appears identical to any other bar.

To digress a bit, late night breakfasts hold a special place in my heart. Long before Taco Bell began a marketing campaign using the same name, a cafeteria at my college served nightly Fourth Meals catering to weary scholars spilling out of the nearby library and evening seminars. As 11 p.m. or so rolled around on Sunday and Monday nights, we refilled on fourth meal and all the bacon, French toast sticks and grits we needed before we tromped back to the library’s rainbow couches, our books, and our sleep deprivation. Once, when I had to miss a Fourth Meal date with friends I was greeted with a late-night knock on my door and a plate of bacon. Good times, as they say.

Presumably good times awaited at It’s All Good. When bands are playing at It’s All Good (as was the case on my visit — a special shout out to Inna Rude Mood and bassist Maggie, a good friend’s step-mom) what’s left of the floor space after the band sets up quickly becomes a packed dance floor. Tables fill up with cougars on the prowl, young wannabe players, men in Hawaiian shirts traversing midlife crises as they hit on girls half their age and a mix of average Joes and Janes. The two bartenders, meanwhile, scramble to mix drinks and pour shots and give little thought to serving food. My point here isn’t to criticize the bar or its clientele, which is representative of the city’s entire nightlife.

However, it does become worthwhile to note that if one wants breakfast at midnight, one has to fight the crowds for it. Most importantly, don’t try ordering before 12 a.m., this is literally “Midnight Breakfast.”

On this particular night, I had a craving for powdered sugar, so it seemed French toast with a side of bacon would be the right choice. Hoping to explore everything It’s All Good had to offer, I offered to buy breakfast for a neighbor I ran into and his friends, taking orders for chicken fried steak, pancakes, and some other breakfast staples.

As it turns out, a set of rather unusual personal circumstances meant I had to leave before I ever ate my breakfast. I’ve yet to run into my neighbor, so I don’t know what my newfound companions thought of theirs.  

There is certainly hope for Ventura’s own version of Fourth Meal, but given how busy It’s All Good was on this raucous Friday night I don’t know if it’s the best place for it, despite the thorough menu offered. With only two bartenders, a barback and a dishwasher working that night it seemed hard enough to fling drinks, let alone serve meals. I can certainly understand the bar wanted to carve a unique niche to keep customers late into the evening, and I still think the midnight breakfast idea has legs, but it’s going to need some muscle behind it, and not just the kind that keeps undesirables out of a bar.

Oversoused appetites throughout the city are clamoring for it.