NIGHT LIZARD BREWING COMPANY TO OPEN

Several readers told me that Night Lizard Brewing Company will be opening its doors soon at 607 State Street (next to Radio Shack). Their mission statement reads: “Night Lizard Brewing Company is committed to producing the highest quality craft beers using the freshest local ingredients, while inspiring and educating the public on current environmental challenges facing the central coast.” Call 335-1909 or visit nightlizardbrewingcompany.com

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BAR 29 OPENS @ HUNGRY CAT

Reader Jonathan says that Bar 29 has opened at 1134 Chapala Street, the former home of The Hungry Cat.

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ALDO’S CLOSES

Reader Annie says that Aldo’s Italian Restaurant at 1031 State Street closed its doors and that the phone number is no longer in service.

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MY KITCHEN RULES

Last Thursday Mesa Burger at 315 Meigs Road hosted a private premier party for “My Kitchen Rules,” local resident and Iron Chef Cat Cora’s new show on Fox on Thursdays at 9 p.m. It was a fun evening and the sliders were amazing!

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THE MEX AUTHENTIC UPDATE

The Mex Authentic at 413 State Street has reduced their hours. Instead of offering daily service the restaurant in now only open Thursday – Sunday.

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OFF TOPIC

While driving home last week I noticed that an error was recently introduced to a northbound freeway sign in Goleta. The Los Carneros signs on both sides of the 101 freeway were recently upgraded to include “EXIT 107″ on the upper-right corner. Caltrans used identical new Los Carneros freeway exit signs for both northbound and southbound, but they should not have.

The two lane southbound 101 in western Goleta is briefly three lanes (just between Storke and Los Carneros) and the right lane terminates at Los Carneros, so there is a large, yellow “EXIT ONLY” marker included on the southbound sign. For some reason Caltrans added the same yellow “EXIT ONLY” marker to the northbound sign where there should not be one, because there are only two freeway lanes when approaching Los Carneros on the northbound side and the right-hand lane does not end.

If, on the northbound side, Caltrans is planning to some day extend the 3rd freeway lane all the way from Fairview to Los Carneros, this new sign would make sense, but only after that work was done. Currently this brand-new northbound Los Carneros exit sign is misleading because it implies that the northbound 101 freeway reduces to a single lane at Los Carneros, which it does not.

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ROSE CAFE ON HALEY TO CLOSE BY 2021

Jean Yamamura at The Santa Barbara Independent reports that the family that owns Rose Cafe at 424 East Haley Street has decided to close the restaurant in 2021 which will be the eatery’s 85th year in business. Agnes Guevara, the family matriarch who ran the restaurant for decades, died in 2014 and her daughter Anna Olvera manages daily operations.

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SANTA YNEZ VALLEY RESTAURANT WEEK

The Santa Ynez Valley is known as much for its culinary creations as its world-class wines. The Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week returns for a seventh consecutive year, Jan. 22-28, offering foodies an opportunity to enjoy three-course tasting menus for $20.17. Representing each of the Santa Ynez Valley’s six distinct communities, two dozen restaurants — from the region’s emerging establishments to long-time favorites — will participate in Restaurant Week this year. In addition to the offerings of the Valley’s restaurants, select Santa Ynez Valley wineries will offer wine and small bite pairings in their tasting rooms for $20.17. And special lodging deals are available at numerous hoteliers throughout the Valley. Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week menus do not include tax, tip or beverages, and reservations are encouraged. For the latest updates on Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week, including menus and dining hours, visit DineSYV.com.

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AHI SUSHI TO BECOME SUN SUSHI

Ahi Sushi at 3631 State Street closed its doors on November 6 with plans to reopen under new ownership after a remodel. Reader Foodie Dan tells me that the new restaurant will be named Sun Sushi.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION

I visited a few local restaurants that are coming to the South Coast including Luna Grill (3925 State Street), Cajun Kitchen (6025 Calle Real, Goleta), Kyle’s Kitchen (7060 Hollister Avenue, Goleta) and Sharkey’s Woodfired Mexican Grill (7000 Hollister Avenue, Goleta). Of the four only Cajun Kitchen appears to have started construction and it appears that they have a long way to go.

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FOOD LIASON UPDATE

Reader Annie says that The Food Liaison at 1033 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria is temporarily closed for an expansion/remodel. They are expanding into the space next door. I am told that the tentative reopening date is January 30th.

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ISLA VISTA UPDATE

I recently wandered into Isla Vista and discovered a few things:

  • HiWi Tropical Fusion restaurant at 6555 Pardall Road in Isla Vista had a one-day trial opening recently with free samples but the restaurant is not open full time yet and should be soon, perhaps this weekend or next week. Unlike your typical I.V. hole-in-the-wall, HiWi is a professional operation, with seasoned management and a brand-new building that was constructed from the ground up. HiWi has one of the largest dining patios in Isla Vista.
  • OTaco, which opened at 6530 Pardall Road in Isla Vista in April 2015, has closed and another restaurant, which I know nothing about, is preparing to take its place. Since I started this column 6530 Pardall Road has been the home of Otaco, Angry Wings, Chino’s Rock & Tacos, Eclectic I.V., China Garden and Kung Pao Kitchen.
  • Sources tell me that an unnamed Poke restaurant is coming to 901 Embarcadero del Mar, the former home of Jimmy Johns.
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AMERICAN ALE TO BECOME FOXTAIL RESTAURANT

Readers Laura and Annie let me know that American Ale, which opened in May 2013 at 14 East Cota Street, has closed and the owners will soon replace it with a new eatery named Foxtail Restaurant. American Ale 02 is still open at 214 State Street (formerly Union Ale).

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PHOEVERMORE RIBBON CUTTING

Join the folks at Phoevermore Vietnamese restaurant, 1017 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria, for foods and drinks at a ribbon cutting and grand opening event on Thursday January 26 from  3:30-5:30 p.m.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Reader JP says that some restaurants in San Diego starting adding a surcharge to cover the January 1st minimum wage increase and wonders if this is happening locally:

Hi John,

Being originally from San Diego ages ago I still follow news & sports there.  I ran across this article in the San Diego Union-Tribune today and thought you might like to see if this is starting to happen in Santa Barbara?  If so, even the new surcharge, I feel it should be big news as most diners will never know especially if an establishment is not “above board” on the issue like detailed in San Diego.

Thanks!
JP

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HERB PETERSON DAY

On Tuesday, January 24, participating McDonald’s restaurants in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties will celebrate the creation of the iconic breakfast item, the Egg McMuffin, with a $2 offer available all day. The Egg McMuffin was invented more than 40 years ago by the late Central Coast franchisee owner Herb Peterson.

“My dad made the first Egg McMuffin sandwiches with freshly cracked eggs in the early 1970s and that’s the exact same way we make every order today, all-day long,” said Herb’s son David Peterson, local owner-operator and president of the Central Coast Owners Association. “The Egg McMuffin revolutionized the breakfast industry and we are proud to honor and celebrate this tasty innovation that is enjoyed around the world and started right here in our own backyard. As a kid, I remember watching my dad inventing it in the kitchen and coming home from the blacksmith’s with the first ‘egg ring’ that makes the fresh cracked eggs cook perfectly round for the sandwich. He was, just as we are today, proud to serve it each morning to customers but today, we are cracking eggs throughout the day as the Egg McMuffin is available on the All Day Breakfast menu.”

In 1968, Herb Peterson, at the age of 53, embarked on a new career opening his first McDonald’s restaurant in Santa Barbara. At the time, no other quick service restaurant offered breakfast. He saw that customers wanted a breakfast option they could eat on the go, and he was determined to provide it. Modeled after Peterson’s personal breakfast favorite, Eggs Benedict, he asked a local blacksmith to make an iron ‘egg ring’ to keep eggs round and tidy as they were cooked for a hand-held sandwich. Convinced his creation would be a game-changer, he presented his breakfast product idea to McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc to rave reviews in 1971. The following year, the Egg McMuffin became the first McDonald’s breakfast item.

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THE CRYSTAL BALL

After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of food and drink locations appearing in your future:

  • Cachuma Lake Café, Cachuma Lake marina
  • Ca’ Dario Trattoria and Pizzeria, 250 Storke Rd., Goleta
  • Cajun Kitchen, 6025 Calle Real, Goleta (formerly Rusty’s Pizza)
  • Chicken in a Barrel BBQ, 310 S. Fairview Ave.
  • Cito Street Café, 305 W. Montecito St.
  • Dickey’s, Santa Barbara
  • Dunkin’ Donuts, 3 more South Coast locations
  • Grocery Outlet, 2840 De la Vina St. (formerly Ralphs)
  • Guicho’s Eatery, 901 Linden Ave., Carpinteria (formerly The Beach Bowl)
  • Hana Kitchen, 503 State St. (formerly Mac’s Fish & Chip Shop)
  • Handlebar Coffee Roasters, 2720 De la Vina St. (formerly Sleep Shoppe)
  • HiWI Tropical Fusion, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • Kyle’s Kitchen, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • La Entrada de Santa Barbara, 30 State St.
  • Luna Grill, 3925 State St. (formerly Carl’s Jr.)
  • Magic Castle, 30 Los Patos Wy. (formerly Café del Sol)
  • Mestizo by Los Agaves, 119 State St. (formerly Nuance)
  • Meun Fan Thai Café, 5664 Calle Real, Goleta (formerly Int’L Cafe)
  • Oliver’s, 1198 Coast Village Rd. (formerly Peabody’s)
  • Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro, corner of Carpinteria Ave. and Holly Ave., Carpinteria
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland (Stacky’s Seaside)
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 4880 Hollister Ave., Goleta (moving from 149 S. Turnpike Rd.)
  • Sharkey’s Woodfired Mexican Grill, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • Which Wich, 5 South Coast locations
  • Unnamed Asian Fusion, 5892 Hollister Ave. (formerly The Natural Café)
  • Unnamed BBQ, 4444 Hollister Ave., Noleta (formerly Creekside)
  • Unnamed Sushi, 134 East Canon Perdido St. (formerly Sojourner)
  • Unnamed Taco, 134 East Canon Perdido St. (formerly Sojourner)
  • Unnamed, 1134 Chapala St. (formerly The Hungry Cat)
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PALOMA UPDATE

Readers sent me messages about Paloma Restaurant and Tequila Bar at 5764 Calle Real in Goleta. I tried calling Paloma during business hours and the phone just rings.

Reader Annie: “I have heard that Paloma’s closed on Saturday and was sold to Los Arroyos. Any updates?”

Reader Peter H.: “Unfounded ‘rumor’ that Paloma on Calle Real has either been sold or closed.”

Reader Heidi: “Hello, I heard from a friend that Paloma (old Rudy’s) on Calle Real was sold and closed at the end of the year. (allegedly) Do you know anything about that?”

Other readers say that Paloma is just closed temporarily for kitchen remodeling/cleaning. So we have wildly different explanations of what is going on.

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THE RESTAURANT GUY TURNS TEN (The Blog, Not Me)

Ten years ago today this blog was born. In the mid-1990s, before Yelp of even Google existed, I was running Santa Barbara’s only online restaurant guide and review system on SantaBarbara.com, using software I wrote myself because you couldn’t buy such a thing. Then, after more than a decade of operating the restaurant guide (where I became privy to a lot of local food news), I launched this food news blog on January 4, 2007.

Soon after it went online, to my huge surprise, I was asked to write a restaurant column for the since-departed Santa Barbara Daily Sound newspaper. This was a surprise because I am a computer software engineer by trade and I have no formal food or journalism training. Despite my fear of public humiliation I accepted their offer.

For the first full year, this blog didn’t have a name, because I couldn’t think of one. Then one day I was exiting a downtown elevator when I bumped into John Zant, who has been a working journalist in Santa Barbara for over 40 years. He recognized me and said “The restaurant guy!”

Unlike with a blog, which has visitor analytics, when you write for a newspaper you never know if anyone actually reads your work. There is usually a lot of other great stuff to choose from. For all I know, the only reader of The Restaurant Guy in print is a canary looking at the bottom of her bird cage.

But while writing for the Daily Sound, I eventually discovered that at least a few people stumbled across my ramblings. One time I learned that BevMo was coming to upper State Street months before any official announcement. The very next day after my story hit the newspaper racks, a local newspaper, television channel and radio station ran their own BevMo stories.

There was also a learning curve. In the Daily Sound I once had a headline story that the Cheesecake Factory was going to takeover Pep Boys on lower State Street, which turned out to be totally false. This is when I discovered that there is no delete key when you publish in print. I was rightfully blasted for my error, complete with calls from an attorney. But I was also blasted once by the Santa Barbara Independent for a restaurant story that turned out to be… true. After 5 years at the Daily Sound, the paper ended circulation in 2012 and I had the great fortune to be invited to join the crew at the Independent which has been my happy home in the print world ever since.

TEN YEARS AGO: A decade ago I had to research about 75% of the information in this blog (walking streets looking for signs, making phone calls), and about 25% was from tips received via email. These days about 90% of The Restaurant Guy news is directly from people like you who read this blog, and about 10% is done the old fashioned way, where I go food news hunting, looking for a story. It has really become a community effort and the news is more comprehensive and much timelier.

So what was the first food news I published back in January 2007? Milk & Honey was new, Panino was opening soon in Goleta, Coffee Bean was set to replace Santa Barbara Sandwich Company next to the Granada, DogHouse restaurant on Milpas Street closed, Crumbs Bakery was opening soon in Goleta, Spirtland Bistro was hosting a Santa Barbara Young Professionals Club meeting with guest speaker Roger Durling, Julian’s Mexican Café on Milpas Street closed, Taiko on State Street closed, and The Hungry Cat restaurant was opening soon at 1134 Chapala Street, the former home of JoJo’s and L’Ombretta.

That first week I also wrote about some personal experiences at local eateries (which I don’t do as much anymore) including comments about Dargan’s Irish Pub, Arigato Sushi, Del Pueblo Café, Dish Café, Milk & Honey, La Super Rica, and, yes, McDonald’s. I was surprised to discover that it is impossible to order a double-hamburger at McDonald’s because it is not in their computer system. You must order a double-cheese burger with no cheese.

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PIZZA MIZZA ADDS NIGHTLY DINE-IN SERVICE

This just in from Pizza Mizza at 140 South Hope Avenue:

Pizza Mizza is bringing back full dine-in service at night! We have received so many requests to bring back our full table service and realize that it’s what our guests really want. So in 2017 you can return to Pizza Mizza in La Cumbre plaza to enjoy a sit down meal with your family and be waited on at the table. Pizza Mizza will continue with our fast casual counter service at lunch and we still deliver all over town from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Full service dine-in hours will be from 5 p.m. to close daily.

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SOMERSET UPDATE

There has been a lot of chatter about Somerset restaurant which opened at 7 East Anapamu Street last month. Many people have asked about their menu and it appears that Somerset just launched their web site complete with online dinner menu.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

John:

In looking at your chart of openings and closings of restaurants and approximating the number each during 2007-16, it looks like there are now 72 more restaurants here than in 2006.  I counted roughly 459 openings and 387 closings.  You will have the actual numbers that generated your chart.  How can they all stay in business?

Happy New Year!

Mike

Mike,

That’s a great question and a good approximation! The actual number is a net gain of 70 restaurants in the last decade. Maybe readers could offer some ideas?

John

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CRAIGSLIST

A reader let me know that there is an advertisement on Craigslist (santa barbara > gigs > event gigs) that begins with:

“I am looking for hard working individuals that would like to work at my company. I am opening up a small bar and grille in the Santa Barbara area. The name is called Jakes Bar and Grille. I need about 10-15 people to work at my bar.”

It’s bogus and most-likely a scam. Nearly identical listings appear in Craigslist Phoenix, Raleigh, Miami, Denver, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Austin, Columbus, Nashville, San Diego, and Fresno.

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NEW YEARS EVE AT PASCUCCI

For New Years Eve at both Pascucci locations (729 State St and 6920 Marketplace Dr, Goleta) they will be serving the regular menu (all menu items $16 and under)  in addition to 5  New Years specials (priced between $22-$25) and will include choice of 2 side dishes:

  • Grilled  sirloin steak with choice of Gorgonzola or marsala-mushroom cream sauce
  • Oven roasted half  chicken with sherry -sage sauce
  • Scampi with lime-capers-butter & white wine
  • Kanaloa Almond crusted-Scottish salmon with lemon-herb cream sauce
  • Kanaloa fresh local halibut picatta.
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2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

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My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. In 2016 there were 54 openings and 39 closings across the South Coast. The most openings were in February (8) while the most closings were in January (8). 2016 is tied with 2015 as the years with the most openings (54) in a calendar year since I started tracking restaurant statistics in 2007.

OPENINGS : American (11), Deli (5), Market (5), Mexican (4), Pizza (4), Coffee (4), Bakery 2), Dessert (2), Italian (2), Vietnamese (2), BBQ (1), French (1), Hawaiian (1), Indian (1), Latin (1), Mediterranean (2), Seafood (1), Spanish (1), Steakhouse (1), Japanese (1), Burger (1)

CLOSINGS: American (15), Mexican (6), Deli (4), Indian (3), Pizza (3), French (2), Seafood (2), BBQ (1), Coffee (1), Fusion (1), Market (1)

FLASH IN THE PAN: Eateries that both opened and closed in 2016: Le Petit Bistrot, 532 State St. (1 month); Boondocks, 4444 Hollister Ave. (1 month); Nimita’s Cuisine, 508 E. Haley St. (4 months); Yankee Noodle, 214 State St. (5 months, now American Ale 02); Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen, 718 State St. (10 months)

FALLEN ICONS: Santa Barbara lost two long-time local food and drink destinations: Montecito Café, 1295 Coast Village Road and Coffee Cat, 1201 Anacapa Street.

MOST POPULAR STORIES: Based on the analytics from SantaBarbara.com, my September announcement that Somerset restaurant, at 7 East Anapamu Street, is coming to Santa Barbara was the most read story in 2016. The eatery, located in the former home of Arts & Letters Café, opened in December. Here are the top-ten most read stories of the year:

  1. “Somerset Restaurant Opening Downtown”
  2. “Convivo Coming to Cabrillo”
  3. “Montecito Café to Close in November”
  4. “Mesa Burger Coming to the Mesa”
  5. “Blaze Pizza Coming to Five Points”
  6. “Dickey’s BBQ Pit Coming to Goleta”
  7. “Creekside Becomes Boondocks”
  8. “Nook and Lama Dog Open in the Funk Zone”
  9. “Hana Kitchen Opens Downtown”
  10. “Le Petite Bistro Coming to State Street”
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CHEF FOSSATI JOINS FOUR SEASONS BILTMORE

The Four Seasons Resort, also known as The Biltmore Santa Barbara, at 1260 Channel Drive, announced its recent appointment of Chef Marco Fossati.  Originally from Genoa, Italy, Chef Marco has more than 28 years of experience cooking in kitchens around the world. Chef Fossati has re-imagined menus at Bella Vista Restaurant located in the resort’s lobby as well as the resort’s lounge, Ty Lounge, and Tydes Restaurant, which is located in The Coral Casino. In addition to updating the resort’s menus, Chef has introduced house-made pastas, house-cured meats, local Santa Barbara products and authentic dishes from Northern Italy.

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MUSSEL MADNESS @ FOUR SEASONS BILTMORE

Following his recent appointment, Executive Chef Marco Fossati has introduced an all new Mussel menu at Ty Lounge on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3-10 p.m. Ty Lounge is located in the Four Seasons Biltmore, 1260 Channel Drive in Montecito. The menu offers variations of seasoned mussels served in cast iron bowls. Highlights include The Belgium (Steamed Belgian Ale, Dijon Mustard, Shallots and Herbs) and the Thai (Lemongrass, Wine, Coconut Milk and Red Chili), both served with grilled country bread. One order serves two people and costs $38.

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BLAZE PIZZA UPDATE

Here is an extended version of the story about Blaze Pizza opening on State Street. The previous story was done in a hurry to get the news about their free pizza out there. This extended version is what I put together for my column in this Thursday’s Santa Barbara Independent:

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the fast-casual pizza concept opened on December 16th at 3925 State Street, in the former home of Carl’s Jr. at the Five Points Shopping Center. Blaze opened their first South Coast location at 6546 Pardall Road in Isla Vista in March 2014.

Each restaurant features an open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of fresh ingredients — all for about $8.25. The personal pizzas are then sent to an open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where dedicated “pizzasmiths” ensure that the thin-crust pies are ready to eat in 3 minutes. Restaurants make their own dough from scratch using a recipe developed by Chef Bradford Kent, which requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce his signature crust. Almost all of the pizza and salad ingredients are free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and fillers. Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.

“Our mission at Blaze is really simple – we’re taking pizza back to its roots,” said Jim Mizes, president & COO of Blaze Pizza. “By making dough in-house, carefully sourcing ingredients, and cooking by fire, we’re giving guests a great way to enjoy artisanal pizza without the wait. It’s changing the way people think about and eat pizza.”

The restaurant is constructed with recycled and sustainable materials, uses eco-friendly packaging, and features energy-efficient LED lighting. The company has also developed a turn-key in-restaurant fundraiser program that returns 20% of an event’s proceeds back to local organizations, and will be partnering with local schools, sports clubs and other organizations to host fundraising events at the new restaurant.

The first Blaze Pizza restaurant opened in 2012, in Irvine, CA and the company currently operates more than 160 restaurants in 31 states and Canada. Blaze Pizza is ranked #2 in the 2015 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, released in April 2016. The top-three fastest-growing chains listed in the report were fast-casual pizza concepts, with Pieology Pizzeria (7000 Hollister Avenue, Goleta) at 67% sales growth, Blaze Pizza at 205% and MOD Pizza (no South Coast locations), the year’s fastest growing chain, at 220%. Blaze Pizza is Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-midnight (the hours listed today on Blaze’s web site are wrong). Call 681-7002 or visit blazepizza.com.

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CHRISTMAS EVE AND NEW YEARS AT S.Y. KITCHEN

S.Y. Kitchen at 1110 Faraday Street in Santa Ynez is presenting a Christmas Eve Dinner Saturday, December 24th and New Year’s Eve Dinner, Saturday, December 31st.  Chef Luca Crestanelli is offering the dinners in addition to his regular dinner menu. Start the evening off with specially created dishes that include Persimmon Salad with Arugula, Red Endive, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese & Almonds; Francesco’s hand-made Tagliolini with Diver Scallops, Sweet Onion Puree, Asparagus and Sevruga Caviar. Main courses include Wood Oven-Roasted Orata with Smoked Cherry Tomato, Baby Artichokes and Thyme; and a decadent Oak Pit-Grilled Waygu, A-5 Grade Rib-Eye Beef Cap with Fingerling Potatoes & Black Truffles. Pricing ranges from $18 – $40 for specials with optional wine pairings curated by Sommelier Emily Johnston available by the glass or bottle. The holiday menu items will be offered à la carte and are meant to be enjoyed alongside other seasonal offerings and signature dishes from S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu. S.Y. Kitchen will be closed for lunch on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve lunch, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Call 691-9794.

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ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END

This is the final year Accidental Santa will be taking calls. 10 years ago this Christmas, children all across the U.S. started dialing my then-new business phone number (800-726-8222) by mistake, because it happens to be one digit off from 800-SANTACLAUS (which is not a functioning phone number). During Christmas 2006 I spent two weeks answering calls from kids all over the nation, listening to their Christmas wishes. Word of my predicament unexpectedly went viral to the point where CNN brought a satellite truck to my home for a live interview on Christmas Eve. I even met a nice lady because of all the media exposure that Christmas, and 5 years later she became my wife.

Every Christmas since 2006, volunteers from all over Santa Barbara have helped answer tens of thousands of phone calls at our “Accidental Santa” call center that I created as a result of that experience. I personally try to speak to 1,000 children a year. The volume of calls has grown to the point where more than a million children tried calling our Santa center during Christmas 2015, though we only able to answer a small fraction of them.

My 2 year old son is approaching the age where the magic of Santa is becoming part of his life, and operating a virtual North Pole in the middle of our living room, with volunteers answering the phone as Santa & Mrs. Claus, won’t work in the future. Consequently, and unfortunately, Christmas 2016 will be the last year I will be able to run the Accidental Santa call center.

The Accidental Santa call center is open December 22-24 2016, 2pm-8pm Pacific Time. To have your children speak to Santa & Mrs. Claus please have them call 800-726-8222. For more information or to volunteer to answer calls, visit AccidentalSanta.com. Merry Christmas!

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