For only the third time in more than 40 years, Taffy’s Pizza at 2026 De la Vina Street has new owners, as Casey and Shaina Groves took over the historic pizzeria on De la Vina Street earlier this year. “Being longtime loyal customers of Taffy’s, we knew that this was the next adventure for our family when the opportunity to buy this landmark arose,” said Casey. “With Shaina’s background in the restaurant industry and my entrepreneurial streak, this was the perfect fit.”

Taffy’s Pizza was established in 1973 by the original owner, who had grown up in the 1930s-era home that eventually became the restaurant. The building, located a half block up from Mission Street, was also home to a small retail business and an ice cream shop before Taffy’s.

In 1983, Greg and Tammy O’Brien took over the business, and grew Taffy’s relationship with the community for 30 years. The O’Brien family hand-selected the Groves out of a number of interested buyers. “We are excited to carry on the traditions of Taffy’s,” said Casey. “We are looking forward to making new memories with the current and future generations of Santa Barbara County residents in the years to come.”

The Groves plan to keep Taffy’s formula for success intact, including outreach to and sponsorship programs for numerous organizations, teams, and other community assets, while slowly making adjustments to the menu to reflect the community’s changing tastes. They have also started opening on Sundays, which was traditionally Taffy’s only closed day. For more information call 687-3083 or visit taffyspizza.com.

A NEW ERA: Casey and Shaina Groves, with daughter Lily, have taken over Taffy’s Pizza at 2026 De la Vina Street.



If you can help reader Katherine please leave a message in the blog.

Hi John,

I’m curious to know if any SB restaurants or bars will be playing this Sunday night’s Academy Awards broadcast.  Looking for a spot to watch and hoping you might have some insight…

- Katherine



To help keep tumble weeds out of the arid basin formerly known has Lake Cachuma, The Restaurant Gal and I are in full water-conservation mode. Rather than going down the drain, our unused cold shower water (when you first start the shower) now goes to a 5-gallon bucket, which is hand-transported by The Restaurant Guy to a 32-gallon barrel in the kitchen, which then makes its way through our Coleman Hot-Water-On-Demand camping pump that is used to clean the dishes each day.

At the suggestion of John Palminteri, we also bought a “DIY Rain Barrel Kit” that connects our rain gutter to 5 empty trash barrels, that themselves are connected in series using the a “Fiskars Rain Barrel Connector Kit.” This 160-gallon rain storage system was built for a grand total of about $100 and will hopefully keep our new fruit trees alive without needing to sip from Puddle Cachuma.

Unfortunately the hot, dry winter weather has caused the Rumor Machine to overheat and, unfortunately, adding rain water to the circuit board is not an option. Of the 10 printouts from the Rumor Machine this week, only one was actually readable: “Tap Thai (currently on De la Vina) is going to be moving into Brummi’s old space on Upper State.” As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.




Reader Meg let me know that Jill Shalhoob has posted a new message on the Facebook page for Jill’s Place restaurant, 632 Santa Barbara Street:

We are finally recovering from the fire we experienced last May that severely damaged the restaurant forcing a complete remodel from top to bottom. We used this opportunity to make your favorite local place even better! The interior has received a major update, ‘back of house’ is completely brand new, which includes new cooking equipment to enhance all your JP favorites.  Some really tasty and fun new items will be waiting for you too.  The team is doing their best to reopen the restaurant’s doors in April. Please like us on Facebook for sneak peeks and information on our grand reopening. Here’s to sharing our fresh new face, quality food and genuine drink at Jill’s Place soon!

– Jill

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Noozhawk has posted a story about a local artisans market coming to the parking lot near the Goleta Outback Steakhouse at 5690 Calle Real. The weekly open-air event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, beginning March 8.

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The Ellwood Mesa in Goleta is an open space where The Restaurant Gal and I frequently go for walks. If you have explored this area you know it is a natural setting except for one thing: a rusty old car that fell into a ravine many decades ago. I contacted my friend Preston Marx III, who knows the history of just about every car ever made, and asked him to identify the lonely automobile. Here are the results of his analysis:

The basic ID was easy: it’s a 55-56 Ford. The harder part was to identify which year and which model. The main differences were only in chrome trim. This rusty car has none left but there is part of a tail light. Also, there is an ABSENCE of chrome molding holes on the front fenders.

So the answer is: 1956 Ford Customline Tudor Sedan.

The hardest part was telling a 55 from a 56. They have identical bodies, at least as rust buckets. The taillight on the 55 is more plain. From the picture you sent, this taillight has more of a star pattern – hence 56. The car appears to have two doors, and has no molding holes on the back or front fenders, which eliminates the Victoria, Fairlane and Skyliner models. It also has a “post” behind the door extending to the roof. This eliminates “hardtop convertibles” which were really just hardtops, not actual convertibles.

rusty car3



Los Arroyos Downtown will celebrate fifteen years at its current location, 14 W Figueroa Street, on March 4th. From Saturday, March 1st to Tuesday, March 4th, they will offer our original menu items and prices from 1999 including nachos were $4.25 and the Burrito Mojado for $5.50. Los Arroyos will also have complimentary sweet treats for all customers on the official anniversary day.

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This just in from SBMenus.com:

SBmenus.com now makes delivery available for downtown Santa Barbara residents and professionals. The service allows customers to order online for delivery from restaurants like South Coast Deli, SB Chicken Ranch, Chili’s Bar & Grill, Crushcakes Café & more, which are delivered directly to their door or business.

Originally launched in the Fall of 2008, SBmenus.com is a website which lets customers view hundreds of local menus and order online from dozens of the Santa Barbara area’s favorite restaurants, all conveniently listed on their website. After the success of delivery in Goleta and Isla Vista, SBmenus.com has expanded to Downtown and now offers online ordering for more than 60 restaurants between Isla Vista and Carpinteria, many of which previously lacked their own delivery service. That’s where SBmenus.com has stepped in and made a user-friendly, on-demand delivery service available to Santa Barbara residents who can now order food online without having to go pick it up themselves or having to pass on restaurants that previously only offered takeout.

Since the business’ original launch over five years ago, SBmenus.com has generated over 3,000,000 page views and 264,000 online orders for local restaurants – with over 100,000 of those orders taking place this past year in 2013. Dusty Stutsman and Bryan Brand, the company’s founders, expect the site to garner even more attention as their expanded service gains traction in Downtown Santa Barbara.

Featuring a diverse variety of popular restaurants, like classic lunch joints including Silvergreens, dinner hotspots such as Enterprise Fish Co., healthy choices like Backyard Bowls and even yummy treats like McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream, the new delivery options on SBmenus.com will let locals get adventurous with their dining options and add convenience to their experience. Customers can place their order (on a computer, tablet or even on a mobile phone) to avoid crowds to beat the lunch and dinner time rushes. Businesses will be able to plan and order ahead for group lunches to be delivered at specific times without ever having to call a restaurant or stand in line to pick up their giant order.

Not only will SB residents who use SBmenus.com for their cravings get priority service, but they will also gain access to numerous different styles of cuisine that they would previously have had to visit in person to try, like sushi from Ichiban, ice cream from McConnell’s, or seafood at SB Fish Market. Plus customers are able to browse for whatever type of food they want, whenever they want. In order to provide customers with more flexibility, they can order delivery at SBmenus.com anytime between 9:00am and 10:00pm daily.

With a small delivery fee of $4.99, it’s simple and affordable to get local food delivered directly to your door via SBmenus.com. In addition to saving customers money and time and offering flexible and open-late hours, SBmenus.com will even feature exclusive specials. And since users have access to the website on both their computers and their phones, they will truly be able to order online when and wherever they want. Check out SBmenus.com to see which local restaurants are available for delivery to your door.



Silvergreens restaurant, at 791 Chapala Street, now offers a delivery option through SBmenus.com. Hours for delivery are 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. daily.

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Sorriso Italiano, which opened last July at 901 Embarcadero del Mar in Isla Vista, now offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $7.95 every Monday and Wednesday between noon and 2 p.m.

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Blush Restaurant and Lounge at 630 State Street recently unveiled a new menu for 2014. In the stylings of Head Chef Brandon Worrell, new dishes include a 12oz Double Cut Porkchop, a 16oz Bone-in RibEye, Chilean Sea Bass, and a Calabacitas Stuffed Pasilla Pepper. Past customers will also find that the Jerk Chicken, house-made Veggie Burger, and Lobster Mac n’ Cheese are still on the menu. Lunch and brunch have been redesigned as well.

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If you can help reader Mark please leave a message in the blog.

Good Morning,

I read your blog periodically and have a question that I hope you can help with.  Can you please tell me local restaurants in SB that have private rooms that can accommodate 20-25 people?  A family member passed a few days ago and I am looking for a nice restaurant where we can have dinner and visit with out of town guests.




140220-eastbeachThere is a rumor raging on Edhat that goes like this:

When the City of Santa Barbara renovates the Cabrillo Pavilion on East Beach next year, it plans not to renew the lease of the East Beach Grill, a beloved institution of locals and tourists alike.

Edhatters contacted me and asked if I could get to the truth of the matter so I spoke with Francisco Aguilera, owner of East Beach Grill, Char West and Great Pacific Ice Cream Company.

Aguilera tells me that the story is false and that he has a lease for another 5 years. He says that he loves working with the City of Santa Barbara, that the City loves working with him and that there are no plans to change things. Aguilera says that there are plans to do a multimillion dollar renovation of the Cabrillo Pavilion but this could be years away and that the Coastal Commission has yet to issue a permit.



Taco Bell is planning to launch an app later this year for smartphones that will allow customers to order ahead of time, before they venture to a nearby location, according to the food news authority Nation’s Restaurant News. The app is said to have been in development for two and a half years.

Mobile smartphone apps have proven popular for Domino’s Pizza, allowing customers to customize, place and even track the status of their order without needing to make a phone call. The report also reveals that Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s are working on similar applications, but no specific functionality or timetables for respective releases were revealed.







Promote your Valentine’s Day specials by leaving a comment in the blog here.



I spoke with Cielto restaurant (1114 State Street) and was told that founding chef Ramon Velazquez no longer works there. I am told that he has been replaced with assistant chef Damon Murphy (now executive chef) whose partnership with Velazquez predates the opening of Cielito.



If you can help reader J.O. please leave a message in the blog.

Hey, any places to get a Valentines Day dinner and enjoy a romantic dance as well? Not like a night club, more like a classy place!




140213-lovinspoonfulEver since Foster’s Freeze closed in March 2010, the Mesa has been without a dedicated dessert shop. That all changed this month when frozen yogurt specialist The Lovin’ Spoonful opened 2028 Cliff Drive, next to Super Cuca’s.

Their mission statement reads: “Our mission is to provide the highest quality frozen yogurt available, along with freshly baked mini-pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and other items from local artisan bakers, in an atmosphere that is comfortable, inviting, and fun.”

The Lovin’ Spoonful frozen yogurt offerings include certified organic, gluten free, non-fat, low-fat, premium, Greek, tart, and no sugar added varieties. Non-dairy sorbets are all natural and include vegan and no sugar added offerings. The freshly baked mini-pies, cakes, cookies and brownies are made by local artisan bakers and include organic and gluten free offerings.

The Lovin’ Spoonful has an 18 foot long video display panel where customers can watch extreme surfing, skiing and other sports and activities, or watch videos of underwater sea life swim by while they enjoy their frozen yogurt and other mini desserts. The store has a common table and sitting area with a eco-friendly fireplace that burns only bioethanol fuel.

For more information call (805) 259-7009 or visit thelovinspoonfulfroyo.com.




Last year I reported that vegan restaurant Mesa Verde is coming to 1919 Cliff Drive, the former home of Cliff’s & Co. Sources tell me that the new eatery is connected with chef Greg Arnold, who is involved with Sage Vegan Bistro in Culver City and Echo Park. For more information visit sageveganbistro.com.

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When restaurants have a giveaway it usually involves an item on the menu. In the case of Pace restaurant, 413 State Street, they are giving away the restaurant itself. In fact, they will pay you to take it. A Santa Barbara Independent story by food columnist George Yatchisin says this unusual giveaway includes the restaurant, a beer and wine license, the lease paid for a year, insurances paid for a year and $20,000 in working capital to help cover your expenses.



I was at Costco strolling for some non-essential purchases when I suddenly felt hungry. I realized that I had completely skipped lunch. As luck would have it, right next to me was a booth offering a free sample of sausage that I quickly devoured. A thought then occurred to me: Is it possible to have an entirely free lunch at Costco?

I noticed that some of the free samples didn’t look very filling (like a sip of apple juice) but others appeared quite substantial (grilled cheese sandwich bite). I decided to give my free lunch idea a try and paid a visit to every booth that offered something edible. To my disappointment, after visiting all 15 food sample booths I still felt hungry so I decided to visit them again. I made another pass to each and every smiling food attendant and requested another taste. Verdict: still hungry. I then made a third voyage through my mini “Taste of the Town” and I finally felt full. So there you have it. If you are willing to endure a 45-course meal, it is possible to have an entirely free lunch at Costco.

So what did I actually have for lunch? 1) Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame, 2) Green Envy Daily Detox Liquid (veggie juice), 3) Mrs. May’s Variety Pack (peanuts), 4) Kirkland Signature Wild Sockeye Salmon, 5) Tasty Bit Basmati Rice, 6) Philippine Dried Mangos, 7) Kraft American Singles (grilled cheese sandwich sample), 8) Tree Top Apple Juice, 9) Pasta Prima Spinach & Mozzarella Ravioli, 10) CP Products Shrimp Wonton Soup, 11) Okami Asian Chicken Salad, 12) Rotisserie Chicken Greek Pasta Salad, 13) Pork Brisket Grillers, 14) Bilinski’s Sausage, and 15) Italian Round (bread)

* Costco membership required



When I was a kid I used to think there were two Lake Cachumas – one for cold water and one for hot water. I was amazed when I eventually learned that there was a thing called a “water heater” in our home. What a brilliant idea – no need to heat up an entire lake!

On the subject of water, I recently heard about a small device that helps conserve water at home which is especially important now that Lake Cachuma is running low. The device is called “Evolve Water-Saving Shower-Head Adapter” and claims to save over 2000 gallons per year. I bought it and it works really well.

When you turn on your shower and wait for the water to heat up, this device automatically slows water to a trickle AFTER the temperature reaches 95 degrees, alerting you that the shower is now hot. You then pull a cord and water comes out at normal pressure once again.This effectively eliminates the problem of hot water going down the drain before you start your shower.

This device does not stop the cold water from going down the drain when you start your shower. A bucket is a great way to capture and reuse the cold water if you want to go a step further with water conservation.

The Evolve Water-Saving Shower-Head Adapter is available on Amazon.com for $25.95. I bought mine on eBay for $18.99 with free shipping. I checked several local stores including Home Depot and couldn’t find it.


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Sources tell me that Kahuna Grill, which opened in Paseo Nuevo mall in 2008, is actively looking for a tenant to replace them and I am told is in discussions with a good prospect. The burger place, whose lease ends this November, is open for business as usual.



SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning is offering 360 classes and workshops for every schedule and lifestyle. Winter classes start and end throughout the term, between January 13 and March 22. Cooking classes offered for winter 2014 include: Almost Meatless; Beautiful Brunches at the Very Last Minute; Cake Decorating; American Riviera Cuisine: California and the Classics; Cook Italian- the Four Seasons; Cooking Fresh from the Farmer’s Market; Fish, the Whole Fish and Nothing but the Fish; Salute to Sushi; Spice it Up with Chilies; Tasty Dishes with Trader Joe’s Ingredients; The Vegetarian Gourmet; and more.

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Here are photos I took of Robert Redford at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival receiving the American Riviera Award.


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Here are photos I took of Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 6, 2014 to receive the SBIFF Cinema Vanguard Award.


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cafeSan Marcos High School students are now getting hands-on experience and learning the necessary skills required for a job in the food service industry, thanks to the January 23 launching of the Café Royale Culinary Program. There are currently 39 students in the program, which combines practical restaurant training and college credit with the opportunity for students to earn industry-relevant certification. Students who complete the courses will have what they need to pursue a wide variety of positions in the food service industry and the knowledge to continue a similar education track after graduation.

Courses include “Introduction to Foodservice” and “Principals of Baking,” which offer six units of credit through the Santa Barbara City College School of Culinary Arts, and “Café Royale,” which trains students for entry-level jobs. They can also obtain their ServSafe Food Handler certification and learn about the history of cuisine. There was a great deal of interest in the program during a recent registration period from a cross-section of students, so the high school is exploring the possibility of expanding it in the future.

The program is led by Chef Educator Donna Barker, who worked with Randy Bublitz, the chair of SBCC’s School of Culinary Arts, to develop career-relevant curriculum. Funding was a team effort between the San Marcos High School Royal Pride Foundation, the Santa Barbara Unified School District Nutritional Services Department, and SBCC. The Royal Pride Foundation received two grants, totaling $75,000, from the Orfalea Foundation and the California Department of Education. Additionally, several businesses have already provided generous donations to the program, including The Natural Café, il Fustino Oils & Vinegars, The Berry Man, Mission Linen, and Jordano’s Marketplace.

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Here are photos from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award last night.


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A pizza & pasta restaurant named Barbarian’s has opened at 511 State Street, the former home of Wahoo’s Fish Taco and Taiko. Owner Bill Clayton tells me that the eatery also has 13 beers on tap and 12 TVs offering DirectTV sports channels. Barbarian’s has draft root beer on tap, which I am told is hard to find downtown in addition to the only regulation-size 16-foot shuffleboard. Clayton, who was born and raised in New Jersey, says the dining destination offers East Coast-style thin-crust pizza. They offer a 16 and 20-inch pies in addition to slices from a 20-inch pie.

Their specialty pies (not available by the slice) include Barbarian House Pie (pepperoni, bacon and pineapple), The Salsipuedes (hot Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic and jalapenos), Pizza Blanco (extra virgin olive oil and mozzarella topped with ricotta, roasted garlic and fresh basil), Veggie Castillo (fresh Roma tomatoes, carmelized onions, artichoke, garlic, mushrooms, red peppers, chopped parsley), Classic Margarita (extra virgin olive oil and mozzarella topped with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil), BBQ Chicken (Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, red onions, bacon, fresh Roma tomatoes and shredded chicken) and 154 (Italian sausage, pepperoni and Canadian bacon).

Hours are 11 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. Tuesday – Sunday, 5 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. Monday. For more information call 884-0044.