THEN & NOW

Before IHOP moved into 1701 State St. a restaurant named J.K. Frimples occupied that address. Before J.K. Frimples came along, a restaurant named Blue Onion called 1701 State St. home, back in the 1950′s & 60′s.

  • Reader Don has scanned the Blue Onion’s menu and put it online for you. Check out the prices!

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22 Responses to THEN & NOW

  1. John says:

    In the 50′s the “car hops” wore roller skates, and you ate from a tray that fastened on your car window.

  2. R says:

    Wasn’t it “Ryan’s” between JK Frimples and IHOP?!

  3. JP says:

    My dad always talks about crusing at the Blue Onion. he said it was good times.

  4. Whirl says:

    I believe between the Blue Onion & JK Frimples it was called something like The Tree House, or The Fig Tree, probably late 60′s or early 70′s.

  5. SL says:

    Don thanks so much for sharing the menu! For some reason I really enjoy seeing old menus and this is a good one. The “Betty Co-Ed Salad” oh my! Pretty amazing to see those prices too.

    So looking at the map on the menu it appears there were two Blue Onions near the bird refuge? Were there were Stella Mare’s and Cafe del Sol is now? Seems odd there would be two so close together.

  6. Art says:

    after the Blue Onion it was called the Fig Tree and they had live wallebees in the area under the tree behind the glass. It was the Fig Tree all through the ’70s and well into the ’80s. The food was a lot better the Frimples which as I remember put powdered sugar on everything they served

  7. Darvene West says:

    I remember many years ago, my hubby and I always went to J. K. Frimples and so enjoyed the Morton Bay Fig Tree in the center of the restaurant. We always ordered the Belgiun Waffles with fresh apricot syrup. It was a highlight of our trip to California.

  8. Holly Rosenthal Lindenthaler says:

    There was nothing like a Basket Burger enjoyed sitting in
    the back seat of our 1950 Buick!

  9. Mario Vazquez says:

    I worked at J. K. Frimples from September 1977 through
    February 1979. It was agreat place to work. I’m from Uruguay, but
    in the back kitchen they were all from Mexico (Manuel, Javier,
    etc.). In the front line they were some Vietnam vets (Frank,
    Rick).., and Pedro from Portugal. Wes was the GM…, Ron owned the
    joint.

  10. Eddie Gonzalez says:

    A friend of mine says that there were live wallabys in where the tree was.anyone else remember that?

  11. Holly Thrasher says:

    My father started J.K. Frimples when I was a young girl, early 1970′s. It had previously been the Blue Onion & The Fig Tree when he bought it. The J & K were my Dad’s initials (John Kingston) and my older sister’s initials (June Kristine). The story on the menu about my sister & I making desserts out of mud in our backyard was true. My older sister came up with the name Frimples for her mud dessert. Mine was Rubble Dubble Cake, both were on the menu and in the beginning, my mother made all the Frimples & other desserts from scratch. I remember watching my mom sew all of the cloth napkins that were used for years. There were Wallabees in the glass enclosed tree are for a bit, but they were making quite a mess & the window washer was bitten, so my dad donated them to the Child’s Estate, now the SB Zoo. Unfortunately, they were all killed when a pack of wild dogs came through the zoo one night. My Dad sold Frimples to Ron Larson around 1974 or so & it remained Frimples through the 1980′s. We still have the big commercial waffle maker from Frimples & it is a family tradition to have Frimple’s waffles on family get togethers.

    My dad, John Bishop, sold Frimples to focus on the Taco Bells he owned in SB. He built the Milpas TB in 1967 & then Isla Vista, De La Vina & Fairview followed. He later expanded his Taco Bell franchises to the Bakersfield area. After being a TB franchisee for over 20 years he sold off all the Taco Bells in the late 80′s when Pepsi announced they were eliminating kitchens in Taco Bells…yuck! He then bought The Good Earth Restaurant downtown on Canon Perdido. My dad purchased Bray’s 101 in Goleta in the late 80′s & put in The Good Earth after moving it from Canon Perdido when the Nordstroms was going in. He had it for 14 years until he sold it in 1999 and then passed away shortly after. My dad loved the restaurant business & our family has always missed J.K. Frimples!

  12. Janice says:

    “J. K. Frimples” restaurant was the “Fig Tree” in the seventies. My dad Roger owned it along with another restaurant, “Lafettes”. The Fig Tree did have wallabies living at it’s glass enclosed base and I remember having a naming contest. We named one “Wally” and one “Bea”.

    “Lafiettes” was located across from the zoo, across from a big pond they have on their border. My brother and I would feed the ducks with left over French loaves.

    I see that this article was written three years ago and that someone just made an entry a very short time ago. I am visiting Santa Barbara in a few weeks and was researching my old haunts to revisit when I came across this article!

  13. Janice says:

    My dads Laffites restaurant is now the Montecito Athletic Club

  14. Ron Larson says:

    Hey Holly… how are you?

    My dad, Roger Larson, bought the Blue Onion after it closed and opened it up as The Fig Tree Restaurant. The restaurant was Australian themed, since Moreton Bay Fig Trees are native to Australia. My dad had never been to Australia, but that didn’t stop him. He bought a couple of Wallabies and put them in the glass enclosure around the tree. He printed up the menus on wood boomerangs.

    The restaurant also had a small bar on the side. He had a regular piano singer there named Ruthy. I don’t know her last name. She worked for my dad for years. She was black, had a big afro, and drive around SB in a pink Cadillac. She was very glamourous. I remember she lived up on the Riveria area.

    My dad also painted a Cadillac and a Dodge van shocking pink with advertising for The Fig Tree on the sides. I think that is why Ruthy drove it. We had the van at our house.

    My dad also owned another restaurant in town… over by the Bird Refuge, named Lafette’s. It was a New Orleans themed restaurant, named after the Jean Lafitte, the New Orleans based pirate. But that caught fire one night in the early 1970′s and had to be closed. It is now the Montecito Athletic Club.

    Around 1973 the stress of running two restaurants, plus Lafettes burning down, plus fights with the Cal. ABC about the Fig Tree Bar starting impacting his health. So he closed Lafettes and sold The Fig Tree and took a mid life retirement. But that’s another story.

    Holly is right. The Wallabys ended up at the SB Zoo.

    When my dad owned it, only one person could get close the the Wallabys. That was the teenaged daughter of the maintenance man (Hap something). I can’t remember her name. She was very nice. Her older brother used to drive around SB in a white full sized pickup truck with two enormous CB radio antennas bolted to the frame. I remember asking him why he had that. He said he just liked radios. Anyhow, she was the one that would have to treat them, and get them out for the vet.

    I think at one point we had about 5 of them in there. I do remember one of them had a joey.

    My uncle Chuck Jones was the main cook at the Fig Tree. Perhaps some people remember him. He was a bit of hell raiser.

    She is wrong that Frimples was sold to Ron Larson. That would be me. I wish. Holly, I think you mixed up the names.

    Sorry I don’t have all of the details. I was just a kid, and I only went over the restaurant on weekends.

    • Ron Larson says:

      I forgot to mention. My mom still has one of the Fig Tree Restaurant menus at home. It cracks me up to see it. The prices are so low! Seriously, like $3 for a NY Steak. I will have to photograph it next time I see it. I think she has it in storage right now.

    • Holly Thrasher says:

      Hi Ron, I’m doing great! Ok, we got it wrong. Both my parents are gone, so we were piecing the history together from memory, I was only 5 in 1974 around the time we think my Dad sold it. We thought he sold it to your Dad, but he must have bought it from your dad? The comment above by John says his Dad, Ron owned it, so that must be who my Dad sold it too. I always wondered where the Wallabees came from, I didn’t realize they were there when my Dad bought it. I love that you still have a Fig Tree menu, I have an original Frimples menu. Wiley & I live in Ojai now and own a small, nostalgic candy store, Kingston’s Candy Co. Ron are you still in SB & is Janice your sister?

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