chef-haroldOn Fridays and Sundays Chef Harold of World Cuisine Express is now serving meals at Piano Gastrolounge, 126 East Anapamu Street. Friday features Harold’s Caribbean Kitchen, an on-going tour through the Islands and their individual cuisines. Sundays will be featuring Healthy Gut by Harold, appealing to anyone interested in a ‘clean’ gourmet meal – from Cross-Fit Paleo fans, to individuals with diabetes. This menu is coordinated with the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, where Welch conducts free cooking classes monthly.

This week’s Caribbean Kitchen is “Cubana Nights” and will have a special two-day run on Friday, June 27th and Saturday, June 28th. Starters: Fried Sweet Plantain with Rum & Ginger Yogurt Dip, Lobster & Crab Tamales wrapped in Banana Leaf, Island Empanadas, Veggie or Spicy Chicken. Main Dishes: Roasted Sofrito Game Hen, Roasted Leg of Pork with Spicy Mojo, Grilled Billfish (swordfish).

Harold Welch is Chef-Owner of World Cuisine Express, Inc., a healthy-food delivery service in Santa Barbara, and a full service catering company. Originally from Barbados, West Indies, Welch has come “through the ranks” in the restaurant industry. In Santa Barbara, he has worked at the San Ysidro Ranch, Citronelle, and La Cumbre Country Club. Welch always wanted to offer healthy food to fellow diabetics, and in 2005, he created World Cuisine Express for that purpose.



More than 2 years ago I wrote that an eatery named Sublime is coming to 901 N. Milpas Street, also known as “The Building With The Cow.” Reader Karl tells me he recently saw construction crews at work inside.



The Tasty Group LLC plans to develop two Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Santa Barbara and eight restaurants throughout Ventura County over the coming years, with the first restaurant expected to open in 2016. Previously there was just one Santa Barbara location in the works.

Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ Donuts has nearly 11,000 restaurants in 33 countries worldwide. Based in Canton, Mass., Dunkin’ Donuts is part of the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. family of companies. For more information, visit



The Santa Barbara Wine Festival, held each year at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, brings together 50 local wineries and 30 food vendors on Saturday, June 28 from 2:00–5:00 p.m. to help raise funds for the Museum’s exhibits and science education programs.

Participating food vendors include: Bridge Brand Chocolate, Brophy Bros., C’est Cheese, Ca’ Dario, Casitas Valley Creamery, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Cook Better/Live Better, Coveted Cakery, Creative Services Catering, Finch and Fork Restaurant, Freezer Monkey, Georgia’s Smokehouse, Il Fustino, Jessica Foster Confections, La Mousse, La Paloma Restaurant, Marmalade Café, Michael’s Catering, Omni Catering, Pacific Pickle Works, Panera Bread, Renaud’s, Rock Rose Provisions, SBCC Culinary Arts, Sorisso Italiano, State and Fig, Stone House Restaurant, The Berry Man, The Shop, Via Maestra 42, Whole Foods Market

The festival is a ticketless event where guests 21 and older may purchase admission on the Museum’s website ( and present a valid identification for admittance. Guests without valid identification will not gain access to the Wine Festival. Admission purchased on Friday, June 27 prior to 5:00 p.m. costs $70 for museum members and $95 for non-members. If available, admission may also be purchased the day of the festival for $105. Free parking with free shuttle service to and from the event are available from three offsite parking lots listed on the web site.



Last week The Restaurant Gal and I attended the one-year anniversary celebration of Los Agaves restaurant at 2911 De la Vina Street.


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Word on the street is that Lucky Penny at 137 Anacapa Street will move to 131 Anacapa Street, former home of the recently-closed Avelina Wine Company. I’m hearing that it will then become a full breakfast and lunch place, opening at 7 a.m., and will bake their own bread. The pizza oven will stay at its current location. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

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Here is a list of local restaurants that have closed in the last year:

  • June 2014: none
  • May 2014: Holdren’s Grill, 6920 Marketplace Dr, Goleta
  • April 2014: D’Vine Café, 205 W. Canon Perdido St.; iGrill Korean BBQ, 3132 State St.; Mad Dogs, 505 State St. (now Ana’s Taco Bar); Magic Pita Café, 5 W. Haley St.; Smoke N Barrel BBQ Shack, 6920 Marketplace Drive, Goleta
  • March 2014: Bangkok Palace, 2829 De la Vina St.; Betos Subs, 731 De La Guerra Plaza (now Harold’s Caribbean Kitchen); Brummis, 3130 State St. (now TAP Thai); The French Table, 129 E. Anapamu St. (now Piano Gastrolounge); Sunnyside Market & Deli, 436 E. Gutierrez St.
  • February 2014: none
  • January 2014: Museum Cafe 1130 State St. (now Fire & Ice Museum Café); Rusty’s Pizza,15 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (moving to 111 State St.); The Pan, 18 E. Cota St.; Wahoo’s Fish Taco, 511 State St. (now Barbarian’s Pizza); YoYumYum, 5915A Calle Real, Goleta
  • December 2013: Culture Shock (mobile); Verde, 532 State St. (now Apéro)
  • November 2013: Altamirano’s, 422 N. Milpas St.; Las Palmeras, 432 E. Haley St.; Rudy’s, 5764 Calle Real, Goleta (now Paloma Restaurant and Tequila Bar)
  • October 2013: Cafe Int’L, 6578 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista (now Lovin’ Oven); Good Karma Market & Deli, 207 W. Anapamu St. (now Red Sands Market and Deli); Javan’s, 938 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Maggies, 1201 State St.; Takenoya, 5934 Calle Real, Goleta
  • September 2013: Anchor Woodfire Kitchen, 119 State St. (now Blue Tavern); Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, 305 Paseo Nuevo; Greek House Café, 5 W. Haley St.; Italia Pizza & Pasta, 149 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta; Pacific Coast Café, 6440 Via Real, Carpinteria; Quizno’s, 1213 State St. (now Jersey Mike’s); Sakura Express, 819C State St. (now Sushi Tyme); Spice Avenue, 1027 State St. (now Tamira)
  • August 2013: Elephant Bar & Restaurant, 521 Firestone Rd., Goleta; Hidden Dolphin Café, 217 Anacapa St. (now Mony’s); Pastavino, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta
  • July 2013: Cinco Estrellas, 316 N. Milpas St.; Mediterra Cafe & Market, 5575 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • June 2013: New China, 5764 Hollister Ave., Goleta (now Tapatia #3)


The Elephant Bar, a long time South Coast resident until last August, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing 16 locations as part of a reorganization.




A day-long Dine Out event will be held Tuesday, June 24th to support CADA’s (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) youth programs. Residents are invited dine at their favorite participating restaurant and a percentage of proceeds will go to support CADA Kids.

CADA Kids represent the preventive substance abuse programs of CADA, reaching thousands of young people annually. CADA Kids includes: The Mentor Program; Teen Court at the Daniel Bryant Center; TART and CARE – early intervention programs in grade schools; Friday Night Live & Club Live leadership programs; Youth Service Specialists – serving all local public junior high and high schools.

Participating restaurants include: Arch Rock, Arts and Letters Cafe, Bouchon, Brophy Bros., Bucatini, Cafe Del Sol, Chuck’s Waterfront Grill, Fresco Cafe, Jill’s Place, Joe’s Cafe, Lucky Penny, Lucky’s Steakhouse, McDonald’s (SB & Goleta), Mulligans Cafe, Opal Restaurant, Paradise Cafe, Pascucci, Savoy Cafe, Sojourner Restaurant, Toma Restaurant and Tre Lune.

To sign up as a participating restaurant or to view the latest list of participating restaurants, visit




The 29th annual Central Coast Wine Classic, a weekend of fine wine and cuisine, is being held July 10-12. Tickets must be purchased by June 22. Many charities on the Central Coast will be awarded gifts, including the Rona Barrett Foundation. “We at the Rona Barrett Foundation are honored for being chosen the recipient of this year’s Fund-A Need award,” said Rona Barrett, founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation. “We hope the Golden Inn & Village will be a solution to the growing crisis of how we house and care for our vulnerable seniors, and a pilot showcase for the Central Valley to be replicated elsewhere. Our pilot facility will be built in the Santa Ynez Valley and completed in 2016.” For more information or to purchase tickets visit

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

Hello Restaurant Guy,

I am bringing a group of highly affluent folks to Santa Barbara in April, 2015. They are snobby about eating good food and drinking good wine. But! They have taxed me with staying on a budget. Do you have any recommendations for a restaurant that will seat all 40 of them at the same time? Preferably, the restaurant will:

1.       Have AMAZING food at an affordable price
2.       Have enough room to seat 40 people at one time
3.       Have AMAZING wine at an affordable price
4.       Serve Santa Barbara typical food (seafood, farm to table, ect…)
5.       Prefer to be close to State Street or fun bars
6.       Have a decent atmosphere

Thanks for any help you can offer!



Here is a list of local restaurants that have opened in the last year. April saw the arrival of Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 W. Victoria Street, resulting in a record number of openings for a single month.

  • June 2014: Spudnuts, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista
  • May 2014: C’est Cheese Café, 825 Santa Barbara St.; Caribbean Kitchen, 731 De la Guerra Plaza; Jersey Mike’s, 1213 State St.; The Black Sheep, 26 E. Ortega St.
  • April 2014: Ana’s Taco Bar, 505 State St.; Beach Bowls, 901 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Belcampo Meat Co., 38 W. Victoria St.; Crazy Good Bread Co., 38 W. Victoria St.; Deli Express, 7398 Calle Real, Goleta; Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.; Enjoy Cupcakes, 38 W. Victoria St.; Fire & Ice Museum Café, 1130 State St.; Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.; Green Star Coffee, 38 W. Victoria St.; Juice Well, 38 W. Victoria St.; Lovin Oven Mediterranean Bakery & Café, 6578 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Pasta Shoppe, 38 W. Victoria St.; Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, 38 W. Victoria St.; Santa Monica Seafood, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • March 2014: Betos Subs, 731 De La Guerra Plaza (now closed); Blaze Pizza, 6546 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Firehouse Subs, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista; Jimmy John’s, 909 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Olio Crudo Bar, 11 W. Victoria St.; Piano Gastrolounge, 129 E Anapamu St.
  • February 2014: The Lovin’ Spoonful, 2028 Cliff Dr.
  • January 2014: Barbarians Pizza, 511 State St.; Wok on the Wild Side, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista
  • December 2013: Buddha Bowls, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Lilly’s Taqueria, 290 Storke Rd., Goleta
  • November 2013: Blue Tavern, 119 State St.; Brothers Restaurant at Red Barn, 3539 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez; Fresh Market, 222 N. Milpas St.; Magic Pita Cafe, 5 W. Haley St. (now closed); Paloma Restaurant and Tequila Bar, 5764 Calle Real, Goleta; Red Sands Market and Deli, 207 W. Anapamu St.
  • October 2013: Daily Grind, 2912 De la Vina St.; Tamira, 1027 State St.
  • September 2013: Smoke N Barrel BBQ Shack, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (now closed); Sushi Tyme, 819C State St.
  • August 2013: Lark, 131 Anacapa St.; McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, 728 State St.; Miso Hungry, 3891 State St; Mony’s Mexican Restaurant, 217 Anacapa St.; Lucky Penny, 137 Anacapa St.; Verde, 532 State St.
  • July 2013: Book Ends Cafe, 602 Anacapa St.; Killer Shrimp, 416 State St.; Little Caesars, 109 S. Fairview Ave., Goleta; Mattei’s Tavern, 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos; Sorriso Italiano, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista
  • June 2013: Los Agaves, 2911 De la Vina St.; Tapatia #3, 5764 Hollister Ave., Goleta


Finch & Fork restaurant has started their popular weekly Monday night wine event. For $25, guest can enjoy a wine tasting on the rooftop pool deck of the Canary Hotel from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Guests of the Canary Hotel are welcome to join for $15. Chef James Siao of Finch & Fork restaurant will provide nibbles each week. Here is the wine schedule: June 16 Beckmen, June 23 Buttonwood, June 30 Grand Places, July 7 Westerly, July 14 Zaca Mesa, July 21 Carr, July 28 Margerum, August 4 Lafond, August 11 Demetria, August 18 Summerland, August 25 Palmina, September 8 Standing Sun, September 15 Cluster, September 22 Melville, September 29 Cold Heaven, October 6 Revel, October 13 multi-winery grand finale.

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In late April I reported that iGrill Korean BBQ at 3132 State Street was closed and that I had been informed by management that the eatery would reopen in two weeks. Readers Michelle, Matt and Brendan let me know that the restaurant never reopened and that a “for sale” sign is now on the front window.


Photo by reader Michelle



Last October rumors hit my inbox claiming that Los Arroyos was going to replace New Baja Grill in Camino Real Marketplace. I spoke with owner Kelly Brown at the time, who also owns Kahuna Grill and Natural Cafe, and he said offers were made but the asking price had not been met. Now I am hearing that rival Los Agaves has swooped in and scooped up New Baja Grill and will replace it in a few months. Los Agaves has locations at 600 N. Milpas Street and 2911 De La Vina Street. Brown plans to open a Natural Cafe in Camino Real Marketplace in the fall.




Mademoiselle Madeleine, a maker of madeleines, a French pastry, has opened at 114 E. Haley Street. The business is owned by a couple of French nationals, Laetitia and Lionel Lagadec. They are searching to establish exclusive relationships with some local specialty stores (delis, gourmet shops, coffee shops, etc.) able to display a select range of products coming directly from the madeleine factory.

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The Restaurant Guy will be one of eight judges at Finch & Fork’s 2nd annual Shuck ‘n Swallow contest at the Canary Hotel rooftop on Sunday, June 29th. Eight local restaurants will have 2 contestants participate (one shucker, and one “swallower”). The team that shucks and eats the most oysters in a pre-set amount of time will win. The $30 price of a ticket includes appetizers from Chef James Siao and Finch & Fork restaurant, beer from Brewhouse, wine from Riverbench and of course oysters. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Environmental Defense Center. A cash bar will also be available. Tickets can be purchased online.


Last year’s winners Doug Fresh (left) and Brandon Worrell from Blush Restaurant & Lounge.

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Jill’s Place has been closed since a fire ravaged it in May of 2013. But disappointed diners are now in luck – Jill’s Place has fully reopened. After the fire gutted her restaurant, owner and local Jill Shalhoob took the opportunity to make her Santa Barbara institution even better. The restaurant interior received a major update. The ‘back of house’ is completely new, with all new cooking equipment. In addition to the fresh face, the classic Jill’s Place menu returns (steaks, chops, chicken, fresh fish, burgers and cocktails), along with a few additions. The renovated restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday at its original location: 632 Santa Barbara Street.




The popular Spudnuts donut shop has opened a new location at 6530 Seville Road in Isla Vista. When the eatery first opened on May 29th they sold out before noon, restocked with another batch of donuts and then sold out again. Seems the donut shop has been greeted with open arms and high demand. Spudnuts offers donuts, pastries, beverages, sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches and Boba.




I called Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos and learned that they are no longer planning to open at the new Santa Barbara Public Market on Victoria Street. I was told that the baker is continuing to look for another location on the South Coast.



Reader Eric tells me that an expansion of the kitchen is in progress at world-famous La Super Rica Taqueria (622 N. Milpas Street). I am told that chips and more are coming soon.

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Reader Matt let me know that Your Cake Baker, Inc., run by Wayne Kjar, has recently acquired the location, website and email of the now defunct Montecito Confections at 1150 Coast Village Road. Kjar continues to operate a store at 2018 Cliff Drive on the Mesa.



Santa Barbara’s McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream is planning to open an ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles’s Grand Central Market this July, next to Wexler’s Deli. When asked why they chose Grand Central Market, owner Michael Palmer said, “This brand goes back almost 70 years in California in Santa Barbara. My family goes back 150 years in California. Growing up in Los Angeles, Grand Central Market was a place we would always go.”

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A new restaurant/sandwich shop named Bacon and Brine has opened at 453 Atterdag Road in Solvang. The eatery uses all locally raised pigs and produce from neighboring areas, with no ingredients from over 60 miles, except salt, vinegar and spice. Bacon and Brine offers a rotating menu of sandwiches based on what part of the pig they are using that week. About five sandwiches a week are available as well as soup and a few salads. Bread comes from The Bakers Table in Santa Ynez and they are making all of their own pickles and beverages. Everything is available gluten-free. The restaurant is open daily 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. except Tuesdays. For more information call 688-8809 or visit



Reader Wendy tells me that Sama Sama Kitchen at 1208 State Street has completed renovations and has reopened.



A job listing for a new eatery opening in Santa Barbara has appeared on Craig’s List. It reads:

Jordan’s Bar & Grill is opening a new restaurant in the area. We are currently interviewing for a host/hostess and a server to join our team. Experience is desired but we are willing to train the right person.”

Update: Reader JTT suggests this post on Craigs List might be spam. Looking at the listing more carefully I think it probably is spam – for an employment-related web site. Sorry about that, chief.

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The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has announced the inaugural Santa Barbara Fork & Cork Classic taking place Sunday, June 1st from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Montecito Country Club, 920 Summit Road in Montecito.

“Having been extensively involved in Foodbank tasting events in past years, I am thrilled to carry on the tradition of bringing together such high caliber chefs, wineries and sips and propelling this new chapter forward,” said Mickey Neal, Santa Barbara Fork & Cork Classic Event Chair and License Department Manager at Green Hills Software. “I thank all of our dedicated committee members, sponsors, volunteers and Foodbank staff who have spent countless hours planning and executing what is sure to be an afternoon of tantalizing faire and a celebration for the senses. And what more stunning venue to host the Fork & Cork Classic than the Montecito Country Club, which graciously offered their space for the event. We are incredibly thankful to all our supporters.”

The event will honor: Chef Michael Blackwell of Montecito Country Club; Leslie Mead Renaud, Director of Winemaking at Foley Estate, Lincourt and Two Sisters; and Clarissa Nagy, Winemaker at Riverbench for their leadership in the local food and wine industries. Proceeds from the Santa Barbara Fork & Cork Classic will benefit Foodbank’s over 300 local nonprofit partners and Foodbank’s youth programs.

Tastes featured at the event include: Arlington Tavern, The Blue Owl, Blue Tavern, Blush Restaurant and Bar, Ca’Dario, Casa Blanca, Finch & Fork, Isla Vista Food Co-Op, Jessica Foster Confections, Julienne, The Lark, McConnell’s Ice Cream, Montecito Country Club, Savoy Café & Deli, The Secret Ingredient, and Via Maestra 42.

Wineries and other beverage purveyors include: Blair Fox, Buttonwood Winery, Carr Winery, Cass Winery, Deep Sea, Dierberg & Star Lane, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Firestone Winery, Foley, Jaffurs, La Fenetre, Lincourt, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Nagy
Wines, Qupe, Riverbench Vineyard, Sans Liege Wines, Santa Barbara Winery, William James Cellars, Zaca Mesa, Ascendant Spirits, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Island Brewing Co and Surf Brewery.

Pre-sale General Admission tickets are $65 or $75 at the door. Pre-sale VIP tickets are $95 or $125 at the door. To purchase tickets visit

ABOVE PAR: The Montecito Country Club will be hosting a fundraising event for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Courtesy photo.

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Reader Gary discusses the future of restaurants in Goleta:


With all the restaurants sitting or about to be empty in Goleta: [Sizzler, Elephant Bar, Holdren's, Smoke N Barrel BBQ Shack, Natural Cafe (soon from Old Town), Takenoya, Cafe Zoma, "The Timbers"...], I would hope that property owners are looking for what the people here want.  It should be something different than Santa Barbara in order to draw business from both places as well.  I am very concerned that Goleta will become a ghost town of restaurants past.

Some places don’t make it here because they don’t have the magic formula.  A good example of one that does have that formula is Hollister Brewing.  Consistently good food, good service, a menu that changes with the seasons, outdoor seating, and great libation.  That is why it is always busy. It really doesn’t sound that hard, but there are really way too many failures to prove differently.

May I suggest that they try to attract restaurant chains to the larger venues such as Bubba Gump Seafood, Kings Seafood, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Bucca d’ Beppo, Garduno’s or Wood Ranch.  They would absolutely have no competition in Goleta or Santa Barbara, and would stand on their reputation.

- Gary



In partnership with Edible Santa Barbara and The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, Bacara Resort & Spa has announced the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend at Bacara from June 6-8, 2014. The three-day event will take guests on a culinary tour of Santa Barbara County from sea to Santa Ynez. For tickets or more information visit

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Last week I announced that The Natural Café is opening soon in Camino Real Marketplace next to Hollister Brewing Company, in a space formerly occupied by a Hallmark store. Since then several readers asked me if The Natural Café in Old Town Goleta will be long for this world. I contacted Max Ruston, owner of the property at 5892 Hollister Avenue in Goleta, and asked about the status of his tenant. He replied “Yes, The Natural Café is closing on Hollister, probably late summer. They are monthly now and have listed their assets through Radius (equipment, license). We hope to find another restaurant and have no broker yet. The building has had many incarnations — bank, post office, laundromat, pool tavern, etc.”