My main business line, 800-SantaBarbara, just happens to be one digit off from 800-SantaClaus. Consequently each year around Christmas I receive thousands of phone calls from misdialing kiddies trying to reach Old St. Nick. Fortunately many volunteers from around the South Coast help out at the call center which launched today.

My son, “Santa’s Little Helper,” was born just in time to lend a hand this year. For more information visit or have your children call 800-726-8222 2p-8pm through Christmas Eve.


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Mario and Lani Medina have owned and operated Mulligans Cafe & Bar at 3500 McCaw Avenue since December 1993. Last week I called Mulligans and was told that the Medinas are in final lease negotiations to take over the space at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta, the former longtime home of Elephant Bar & Restaurant which closed in August 2013. I am told that if the lease is signed, the restaurant won’t be a new Mulligans Café but would instead be a different concept.




On November 26 I posted a story from reader Terri who told me that she noticed some activity in and around the former Spiritland Bistro at 230 East Victoria Street. Reader Karl spoke to people inside the building and was told that in a few months they will serve Japanese food. Readers Kelly, Karl and Vicky now tell me that an ABC notice has appeared in the window indicating that the name of the Japanese restaurant will be “Yoichi’s.”

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Two local Santa Barbara restaurants, Scarlett Begonia and Lucky Penny were recently featured on Good Food America, the healthy food travel show which airs nationally on Z Living TV (formerly Veria Living), the TV network that showcases healthy lifestyle and wellness programming. The segment featuring Scarlett Begonia sampled some of the restaurant’s popular menu offerings including Charred Cauliflower (with shallot, pickled fresno chili, mint castevetrano olives, house made cracker and almond romesco) and Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast (with grilled grapes, au jui, pine nuts and celery root puree). The piece about Lucky Penny featured Milpas Pizza, featuring fingerling potatoes, Mexican chorizo, sunny-side up egg, spicy tomatillo marinara, cotija and cilantro. Host, Chef Danny Boome also sampled the Spiced Lamb Meatball Sandwich with Harissa marinara, blistered Anaheim chiles, shaved pecorino and arugula, served on ciabatta.

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Here is a tip from reader Jonathan:

“I drove past the restaurant on De La Guerra and Milpas with the cow on the roof. There was a big sign saying Opening Soon.  It looked open, so maybe they already did a soft opening.” Reader Steve W. offered a similar appraisal of the situation.



This just in from reader Steve:

‘“Hi John, There’s an ABC permit for ‘Municipal Winemakers’ posted at the corner of Haley and Laguna Streets. A big warehouse-type building is being remodeled.”

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Brasil Arts Café has expanded their breakfast menu to include breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and a Brazilian style ham and cheese croissant.  You can try any of their Brazilian style food by stopping by the restaurant, at 1230 State Street, or by ordering through

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On July 27th 2013 the Marina del Rey eatery Killer Shrimp opened a second location in Santa Barbara at 416 State Street, the former home of Sharkeez. Readers Mike, Diane, and anonymous let me know that Killer Shrimp closed their doors earlier this month. I stopped by and confirmed that their sign is down and that all was dark and quiet during business hours.



Founded in 2004 by two longtime friends, entrepreneur Bill Freeman and pizzaiolo Francisco “Patxi” Azpiroz, Patxi’s Pizza (pronounced “PAH-cheese”) opened December 9th at 515 State Street, the former home of Territory Ahead. The Restaurant Gal/Kid and I stopped by for dinner and tried the Spinicini Nuovi pizza. It was delicious. Thanks to Julian, Andrew and Jon-Michael for the great service.

We were told that the beer and wine permit is now active. (It wasn’t available on opening day). One of the first things I noticed when we arrived was that Patxi’s has created one of the largest patios on State Street where there used to be none, and a long bar services both the patio and the interior. I’m told it has been popular from day one.

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A new business named Jun Brewery, serving organic and raw craft fermented beverages, is coming to 130 N. Calle Cesar Chavez. I’m told the brewery is “hidden in the back” and that they make Jun, a Tibetan drink made from organic fermented jasmine green tea and honey. Because it’s fermented it has an alcohol content of just under 3%, so it needs an ABC license that is currently on display. They hope to be open in February. For more information visit

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Just before Bay Roadhouse Bar & Café closed for good on November 30, reader Steve W. was talking with employees at the 202 State Street restaurant. He was told that the owners of Bay Roadhouse hope to reopen Café del Sol, 30 Los Patos Way, which closed last September after 50 years in business. The rumor suggests that the new Café del Sol would use the existing Bay Roadhouse ABC license which would be transferred to 30 Los Patos Way. The rumor goes on to say that the popular Café del Sol menu would return along with a few items from Bay Roadhouse. Bay Roadhouse Cafe was owned by the same family that runs the Nugget restaurants in Summerland and Goleta. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



An application for a new eatery owned by “H Yin Boutique Investments” of Goleta has appeared at 428 Chapala Street, the former home of Adama.



A sign for AH Juice Organics Pressed Juice & Cafe, currently under construction, has appeared at 432 E. Haley Street. For more information visit

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Reader Glenn shared with me a great Santa Barbara video filmed with a drone.

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Pressed Juicery at 506 State Street closed in September and will be replaced by International Candy. I was wandering Paseo Nuevo mall last weekend and noticed that Pressed Juicery has reopened at 305 Paseo Nuevo, the former home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

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This just in from the Cajun Kitchen:

30thAnnyHolidayCajun Kitchen, a Santa Barbara local favorite, Will Celebrate 30 Years With A Customer Appreciation Holiday Special On December 14, 2014

Cajun Kitchen will be providing two holiday specials at their five locations. For $5, customers will receive beignets (delicious warm bite-size French-style doughnuts topped with powdered sugar) and their choice of either a Poinsettia cocktail (champagne and cranberry juice) or an order of our delicious hot chocolate. This is our way of saying “thank you” to our customers for their business throughout the years and to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Come on down and join in the celebration by posting your pictures and comments with #celebratingcajun30 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Celebration Hours: Sunday, December 14, 2014

  • 901 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara (7 – 3)
  • 1924 De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara (6:30 – 2:30)
  • 6831 Hollister Avenue, Goleta (6:30 – 2:30)
  • 865 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria (6:30 – 2:30)
  • 301 E. Main Street, Ventura (7 – 2:30)

About Cajun Kitchen Café

The Jimenez family is proud to bring the food of Cajun culture for breakfast and lunch to Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. Richard Jimenez Sr. began as a prep cook and in 1984, took over the first of three Cajun Kitchen restaurants in Santa Barbara (on De la Vina Street). He continues to bring his unique palate to Santa Barbara County alongside his family. Where else can you find blackened catfish or jambalaya for breakfast in Southern California? Our clientele is often surprised to find out the restaurants are owned by a local Hispanic family until they notice our unique spins on a few Mexican favorites like Huevos Rancheros and Chilaquiles. We just like to think that we’re adding to the history of cultural diversity in our communities. So come pay us a visit and see what SoCal-Cajun hospitality is all about!

Known for its authentic cuisine, generous proportions and friendly service, the Cajun Kitchen Café is proud to celebrate 30 years of dishing out local favorites.



Word on the street is that Pita Pit at 971 Embarcadero Del Mar in Isla Vista is closing and will be replaced by a Chinese restaurant.

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This just in from Sandbar at 514 State Street:


As a long time reader I finally have something to share.  Sandbar closed starting December 8th for some upgrades to the building which will allow for more seating in our cantina and a better customer experience in many areas.  We’re excited for the changes and we can’t wait to get back to serving Santa Barbara around the beginning of January.  Happy holidays and we can’t wait to see all our amazing customers again soon!

Thanks John.
Aron Ashland
Managing Partner-Sandbar SB


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Tri Tip Company closed on November 30th after less than 60 days in business. I call neighboring Union Ale, which operated Tri Tip Company, and was told they are currently exploring a variety of options for the spot including a breakfast and lunch café.



This just in from owner Frank Goss:


After twenty years of fabulous courtyard lunches and with legions of loyal customers to testify to the Arts & Letters Café’s sterling reputation, Sullivan Goss is announcing the sale its building at 7 East Anapamu, home of the Arts & Letters Café. The sale is being handled by Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial. Those wishing to learn the specific terms can
contact Mr. Hayes.

In the meantime, the Arts & Letters Café will continue to serve lunch and host scheduled holiday parties. Café Manager Lisa Neustadt, and her staff, will continue to ensure the usual high level of quality and professionalism while the restaurant is in transition.

The owners and employees of the Arts & Letters Café have treasured their many years in service to the community. Holidays, birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, parties : the staff has been proud to be part of them all. After 20 years, founders Frank and Tricia Goss, look forward to enjoying a somewhat quieter life. Tricia has retired and Frank will continue at his Gallery.

Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery, established in 1984, will continue to operate an active exhibition schedule and show its expansive inventory from its operation at 11 East Anapamu. After years of mounting about twentyfive exhibitions per year, Mr. Goss and curators Jeremy Tessmer, Susan Bush, and Nathan Vonk look forward to being able to devote more resources to a smaller exhibition schedule. The curators also hope to be able to devote more time to client collection building and career development for its artists. |

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Founded in 2004 by two longtime friends, entrepreneur Bill Freeman and pizzaiolo Francisco “Patxi” Azpiroz, Patxi’s Pizza (pronounced “pah-cheese”) will be opening December 9th at 515 State Street, the former home of Territory Ahead.

Patxi’s is best known for its authentic signature deep dish pizza baked in a traditional slow rotating pan oven. It was named by Esquire magazine as one of the “Top 10 Life Changing Pizzas.” The restaurant also offers a light and crispy Italian-style thin pizza, featuring imported Italian Double Zero flour and baked to perfection in a 900-degree imported Italian oven. A thin gluten-free crust is available as well.

“The spark for creating Patxi’s started 10 years ago in my apartment kitchen, baking pizza in an old Wedgewood oven,” said Azpiroz. “We still make each pizza by hand and to order using the finest and freshest ingredients. We hope that Santa Barbara enjoys our pizzas as much as we enjoy making them!”

In addition to the pizzas, fresh salads and shareable appetizers round out the menu along with beverages that include a large selection of local craft beer and wine, including 20 beers on tap.

Patxi’s features all-natural meats and fresh produce, locally sourced and organic when possible including Zoe’s All-Natural pepperoni, chorizo and hot coppa, Fra’ Mani Salumi Nostrano and smoked pancetta, Creminelli prosciutto cotto, fresh herb roasted chicken breast and garlic-fennel sausage, fresh whole milk mozzarella, fontina, herbed ricotta, aged feta, Point Reyes blue, and Daiya vegan

Not to be overshadowed by a passion for pizza, Patxi’s Pizza also strives to be active in its communities. Through its 52 Weeks of Giving program, Patxi’s donates a portion of its profits to local nonprofit organizations dedicated to education and children’s health and welfare. To date, the company has donated more than $500,000 to partnering organizations.

Hours are Sunday -Thursday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. – midnight. For more information call 564-4888 or visit Delivery is available by ordering online.




Reader Cris let me know that Wahoo’s Fish Taco will be opening at 7000 Hollister Avenue in Goleta as part of the new Hollister Village Plaza that is currently under construction. Wahoo’s will be joining previously-signed tenants Smart & Final Extra!, Zizzo’s Coffee, Supercuts and Petsmart.



A company named New Beats Entertainment Inc is opening a restaurant named “OTaco” at 6530 Pardall Road in Isla Vista, the former home of Angry Wings.



After five years in business at 202 State Street, Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill has gone out of business. They left a message on the door for patrons:

“For the last five years the Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill has proudly served the Santa Barbara community providing a quality product at a fair price at a family friendly atmosphere. It is with a heavy heart that I announce our closure today November 30th. Thank you Santa Barbara for your support throughout the years. Sincerely, Your Bay Roadhouse Crew”



Reader Rudy let me know that Angry Wings at 6530 Pardall Road in Isla Vista has closed after 2 years in business.



Reader Primetime tells me that Firehouse Subs 6530 Seville Road in Isla Vista shut down operations after just a few months. I found it interesting that Firehouse Subs opened for business just before students left town for the summer and then closed after they returned. A sign on the door reads:

“Thank you Isla Vista and UCSB. Firehouse subs will be closing for business. Happy Holidays.”

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This just in from Mac’s Fish and Chip Shop, 503 State Street:

Hi John,

Hope all is well with the new family member. Swaddles, white noise and bulk wine purchases successfully got us through the first year of all three of our kids.

I wanted to send you a quick email to let you know that our annual “Holiday Pie Appeal” has begun! A full $5 from each Holiday Pie sold will go directly to The Food Bank of Santa Barbara who provide food support to over 102,000 local people every year and help them move from hunger to health. Nearly half of the recipients are children and they provide both physical food and food literacy to help prevent the cycle of hunger.

Our Holiday Pie consists of layers of House Roasted Turkey Breast in Gravy, Sage & Onion Stuffing, Buttered Carrots, Garden Peas, Topped with Parsnip & Potato Mash, and a side of Cranberry Sauce. They cost $7.50 each with $5 from each sale going directly to the Food Bank. Please help us support this amazing cause as we shoot to break the $1000 barrier. We also have them available to bake at home.

Kind Regards,



This just in from reader Laila: “Ramon Velazquez, former head chef at Cielito, opened a pop-up restaurant on Sundays using the Three Pickles location on Canon Perdido Street. It’s called Corazon Cocina and they serve a small menu of farmer’s market fresh ceviches and tacos. The food is ridiculously good!”



Reader Steve tells me that a new sign has appeared at the Santa Barbara Airport. First Class Concessions, Inc. is applying for an alcohol permit under the business name “La Mission Café.”



This just in from reader Spencer:

Norton’s on Milpas Street is out. Signs down, moved out. Norton’s Figueroa location remains in business as usual. They will be replaced at 226 South Milpas by ‘East Beach Tacos’, aiming for New Years Day opening.”

Also thanks to reader Julianne for sending me a tip about Norton’s.