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.




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!



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?


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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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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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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, 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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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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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.



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





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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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 Merry Christmas!




Reader Primetime says that Blaze Pizza has opened at 3925 State Street, in the former home of Carl’s Jr. at the Five Points Shopping Center. This is the second South Coast location for Blaze which opened at 6546 Pardall Road in Isla Vista in March 2014.

Primetime says Blaze is having a Grand Opening today, Friday December 16th, and giving out free pizza to followers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m not exactly sure how the mechanics of that free offer works.

Blaze Pizza uses an interactive assembly line format that allows guests to create their own custom-built artisanal pizzas at high speed.  Each pizza starts with a 11-inch crust that is pressed fresh from a dough ball. Then guests travel down the assembly line to “co-create” a signature pizza or design one of their own — choosing from a wide variety of house-made sauces and 40 fresh toppings. To finish, each guest’s custom-built pizza is fast-fired in an oven and ready in three minutes. Blaze is open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight. Call 681-7002 or visit



Word on the street is that Yume Sushi at 428 Chapala Street is planning to open a second location in Carpinteria.

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Reader Annie says the for-lease sign is down at 1201 Anacapa Street:

Anyone heard anything about the Coffee Cat space? The For Lease sign is down and the windows are papered over.

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This just in from Kalyra by the Sea, 212 State Street:

It has been our mission at Kalyra  to provide great wine and fun family experiences at affordable prices for everyone.  We’ve been through the crazy Hollywood times with the filming of Sideways at the winery back in 2004, the opening of our Santa Barbara location and then this year our newest Tasting Room in Buellton, Helix, along with the launch of our newest 239 wine.

As we look to the end of 2016, we are proud to keep that tradition going with our ever expanding line up of wines to come. The 2016 harvest was a bountiful one and we are excited to be creating some delicious varietals for your drinking pleasure.

You’ve probably noticed some changes at Kalyra as we’ve added many more events to our calendar along with expanding our mission to engage in more charitable partnerships in 2017.

Not all changes are easy and this year we find that our biggest challenge requires us to stay true to our mission and goals as we adapt to the changing real estate market in Santa Barbara. An out of town developer has purchased the Kalyra by the Sea property and has plans to develop it. Unfortunately, this means that we will be closing our Santa Barbara Tasting room as of Dec. 27th, 2016.  We appreciate all of our members who visit this tasting room on a regular basis and we hope you will continue to visit us at the Santa Ynez vineyard tasting room; we promise an equally gorgeous view and the chance to relax away from the city while enjoying the same great tasting benefits you have in Santa Barbara.

We look forward to seeing you at the Customer Appreciation Party  and our full staff will be available to answer your questions/concerns, update your account with new shipping information if you should choose that option for future wine club offerings. Come by and enjoy some wine, refreshments and even pick up your wine club shipment if you haven’t done so already.

We invite all of our wine club members to celebrate the wonderful years at this location with us on Dec. 26th at our Customer Appreciation Party at Kalyra by the Sea from 2:00 – 6:00 pm.

We appreciate your support as we navigate this change and look forward to continuing to provide you with a great place to gather, fun events to take part in and of course delicious wine at reasonable prices.

Kathy & Mike Brown
Owners, Kalyra Winery



Helena Avenue Bakery at 131 Anacapa Street has announced a takeout menu of signature breads, side dishes and desserts for the Hanukkah and Christmas season so that hosts can spend more time with friends and family, and less in the kitchen. Helena’s Holiday Fixings include the bakery’s Cheese & Charcuterie Board with Homemade Crostini; Mixed Green Salad with Ribbon Carrots, Fennel, Pomegranate Seeds, Goat Cheese, Garlic Butter Croutons & Cranberry Vinaigrette; Roasted Tomato Soup; Beef Gravy; Spiced Cranberry Sauce; Stuffing with Onions, Garlic, Mushrooms, Carrots, Celery, Water Chestnuts & Fresh Herbs; Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes; Candied Yams; Collard Greens with Bacon; Curried Carrots with Pistachios & Lemon.

All dishes are packaged in generous portions for four guests with easy assembly / reheating instructions. Helena Avenue breads include signature fresh-baked Pain au Lait Rolls and Baguettes. For dessert, guests may choose from a selection of hand-made pies – Buttermilk Cheese Pie; Blackberry Chocolate Pie; and Sweet Potato Pie.

All orders must be placed by NOON on Tuesday, December 20th at the Helena Avenue Bakery retail counter, or by calling 880-3383. A credit card is required when placing order. Pick-up times are Friday, December 23rd and Saturday, December 24th, between 10 am and 6 pm.

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Kanaloa Seafood Market & Kitchen at 715 Chapala Street is kicking off Happy Hour, from 3 pm – 6:30 pm, every Monday through Thursday. With the recent opening of their kitchen in downtown Santa Barbara, the sustainable seafood purveyor has been welcoming guests for lunch and dinner for almost a year, and now invites the community to come for Happy Hour. Guests can take a seat on the patio or pull up to the oyster bar and order from their new Happy Hour menu and enjoy specials on beer and wine. Highlights from Kanaloa’s happy hour menu include Fish Taco of the day, Peel & Eat Shrimp, Oysters, Fried Oysters among other crowd pleasing favorites. Guests can also enjoy $4 beers on tap and special select wine for $4 a glass. Follow Kanaloa’s social media channels (Instagram, Facebook & Twitter) for additional weekly specials at the restaurant as well as the fish market.

Kanaloa Seafood Market & Kitchen has also announced the opening of their newest market and kitchen in Oxnard, at 251 Lombard Street, which is also the location of the company’s wholesale operations and warehouse.  “We are proud to open our doors to Oxnard and its surrounding communities, and welcome you to come taste our fresh seafood – let us cook it for you at the restaurant, or take it home and try it with your own favorite recipes,” shared Randee and Don Disraeli, owners of Kanaloa Seafood. “At Kanaloa, we have always taken great pride in being a part of the community, and we hope to surpass expectations with our dedicated service and by continuing to offer the best, responsibly-sourced seafood in our newest location for many years to come.”


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The Restaurant Gal and I enjoyed dinner recently at Little Kitchen, 17 West Ortega Street, the former home of Nardonnes La Famiglia Pizzeria. We ordered the Roasted Beet Salad (organic mixed greens, goat cheese, pistachios, dried figs, orange balsamic vinaigrett), Mac & Cheese Skillet, Southwest Chicken Tikka Masala (mar’s organic chicken in a creamy tomato curry, roasted corn salsa, cilantro, served over a ginger coconut rice, with grilled naan), and Little Kitchen Burger (painted hills beef, brioche bun, butter lettuce, tomato, carmelized onions, dill pickles, secret sauce, Swiss cheese, side of fries). We really enjoyed our meals and I must add that the burger was so good I added it to my list of top-10 favorite burgers in Santa Barbara. I’ll definitely be back.

If you would like to try Little Kitchen I have a  few serious coupons available to the first 6 people who ask for them in the the comments section. You will receive a 50% discount off of lunch or dinner, good for up to 4 guests. The coupon is for dining in the restaurant (no take outs), does not include drinks and expires December 31 2016. I’ll email you at the contact email address associated with your username and send your coupon to you via snail mail. View the menu at

Update: all 6 coupons have now been given to readers



Ralphs market at 2840 De la Vina Street closed its doors for good last month, at which time reader Gerald revealed that Grocery Outlet will be replacing it. Reader Steve H has sent me information that suggests Grocery Outlet will be opening in Santa Barbara in late April 2017. Visit



Somerset restaurant opens Friday December 16th at 7 East Anapamu Street (the former home of Arts & Letters Café) after 2 years and several million dollars of renovation, transforming it into a “world-class venue.” It is designed by celebrity designer Steve Hermann, the talent behind the award wining L’Horizon Resort in Palm Springs, who cut his teeth designing homes for A-listers in Los Angeles. “Upon entering, you are immediately transported to another time and place,” says Hermann. “The interior is both classic and modern simultaneously, with references to a grand restaurant one would find in London or Paris. Boasting deep chesterfield sofas, polished zinc table tops, and 50’s modern vintage chairs and lighting, the space comfortably mixes mid century and art deco influences.”

Hermann has gone all out, including sourcing original Stilnovo vintage Italian sconces and chandeliers from the 1950’s. As beautiful as the interior is however, the courtyard is the “piece de resistance.” A large stone fireplace draws you toward the patio with 100 year old olive trees that are situated in rubble stone planters. The whole feel of the patio was designed to be that of an old courtyard in Tuscany. That old world feel throughout the restaurant is complimented by modern touches such as the contemporary furniture and a custom sound track developed specifically for Somerset by one of the D.J’s hailing from Hotel Coste in Paris.

The most important aspect of any restaurant is the quality of the food so Somerset restaurant brought in a star chef. “After doing dozens of tasting with top chefs across the country and not finding what I wanted, I knew what I needed to do. I approached the Chef, Lauren Herman, from two of my favorite restaurants, A.O.C. and the James Beard Award winning Lucques,” said Hermann. “She defines what is right about California cuisine, effortlessly producing progressive dishes with rustic southern European infuences. She is joined in the kitchen by her wife, pastry and sous chef Christina Olufson, who is an incredible talent in her own right.”

Somerset is open Sunday-Thursday 5- 9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-10:30 p.m. Lunch and brunch to follow in January and February 2017. Call 845-7112.

som2som3som6som5Chef Lauren Herman (left) with  pastry and sous chef Christina Olufson



Los Agaves is now taking special orders for their holiday tamales, a once-a-year occasion, just in time to serve at holiday celebrations. This year, Los Agaves is offering traditional favorites of chicken, pork, and rajas plus a sweet variety of strawberry, guava and pineapple. The last day to place orders is Tuesday, December 20, 2016. Tamales are a Christmas Eve custom in Mexico celebrated with family gatherings, preparing the labor-intensive dish at a Tamalada. Orders are available by the half dozen ($26), dozen ($52) or a la carte ($4.50). To place an order, please call Milpas: (805) 564-2626, De La Vina: (805) 682-2600, Goleta: (805) 968-4000, or Westlake Village: (818) 874-0779.

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Reader Primetime tells me that Mesa Burger at 315 Meigs Road reopened today after a 1 week pause following their opening last Monday.


mb2Menu photos provided by reader Primetime



Reader Peter tells me that Mesa Burger is now open for lunch and dinner at 315 Meigs Road,  replacing Mexican Fresh Taqueria. Spearheaded by Chris Chiarappa and led by Iron Chef Cat Cora, the fast-casual concept sets itself apart with “a robust chef-driven menu featuring Cora’s signature touch and a focus on local tastes and flavors.” The menu offers gourmet burgers and salads, locally-brewed beer, Santa Barbara County wine, and McConnell’s ice cream in scoops, hand-spun shakes, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. The produce is sustainably grown, ingredients are conscientiously sourced, and sauces are made fresh daily. The beef burgers are 100% all-Angus custom blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib, served on a locally baked brioche bun. There is also a selection of turkey, chicken, fish and vegetarian sandwiches and “farm-inspired salads.” The 75-seat space includes indoor and outdoor seating, a roomy, heated patio, and three big-screen TVs. Call 963-7493 or visit







The Hungry Cat restaurant at 1134 Chapala Street, which opened in April 2007, plans to close after Christmas. Reader Wade was walking by the business recently and noticed a liquor license change of ownership sign suggesting that the next tenant will be PAK Burger, Inc.

Reader Annie says that the new business coming to 1134 Chapala Street won’t be a burger place but instead is going to be a craft cocktail bar with small plates, and is due to open in mid January.

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18e3Globe restaurant, which opened at 18 East Cota Street in July 2015, changed their name to 18 East and will now be hosting local pop-up chefs, creating their own special menus. Your first dining opportunity will be December 15-17 when 18 East features chef Mark Nargi. The menu includes Mole Poblano (sous vide pork loin, handmade corn tortillas), Turkey Pot Pie (flaky crust, wild mushroom gravy), Mac n Cheese (cavatappi, smoked gouda, crispy garlic crumbs, chives), Carolina Grits (cajun oil, prawns, roasted heirloom tomato vinaigrette), Pickle Plate (assorted vegetables and fruits, egg, grilled bread), and Chocolate Pot de Creme (coffee crumble, vanilla creme fraiche). 18E’s manager & master mixologist, Andy Davis, will be pouring “the 2nd strongest drinks downtown.”

18e-ptPhotos by reader Primetime



Somerset restaurant at 7 East Anapamu Street (the former home of Arts & Letters Café), offering California seasonal cuisine with Mediterranean and French influences, has moved their opening to December 14. The property has been extensively remodeled and the original courtyard has been replaced. The courtyard now has a base of pressed gravel and the space has been beautified with the addition of five 160-year-old olive trees to create a canopy. Fire pits and fountains offer an indoor/outdoor feel.


somerset2Photos provided by Somerset restaurant



Here is an official press release on behalf of Bluewater Grill coming to 15 East Cabrillo Boulevard, the former home of Rusty’s Pizza at the lighthouse:


We’re ecstatic to be adding another location to our family of restaurants! Opening in the Santa Barbara waterfront in 2017, Bluewater will offer locally caught sustainable seafood, spectacular ocean views and an upscale coastal-casual vibe. This former site of Castagnola Lobster House will be the ninth Bluewater and first on California’s Central Coast.

Bluewater Grill will bring a blend of locally caught sustainable seafood, monthly chef’s tastings and neighborhood wine and happy hours to California’s Central Coast with its debut on the Santa Barbara waterfront in Summer 2017.

Bluewater co-founders Richard Staunton and Jimmy “U” Ulcickas today announced that Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara will open at the foot of Stearns Wharf in July 2017, combining locally caught seafood and shellfish and the latest releases from Santa Barbara County wineries and other local suppliers to offer a stylish, decidedly local dining experience. The beachfront restaurant is ideally located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s downtown Waterfront area – the most visited spot in the city – and adjacent to the Funk Zone, a trendy destination of wine tasting rooms, shops and other opportunities for locals and tourists.

The new restaurant will be owned by Staunton, Ulcickas and long-time friends and partners Adam and Andrew Firestone, and David Walker, plus other Santa Barbara locals. Bluewater has proudly poured Firestone wines and Firestone Walker beer in its restaurants for years along with other Central Coast varietals.

Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara takes over the famous site of the Castagnola Lobster House, one of several restaurants established by George Virginio Castagnola in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a Southern California fleet-fishing business. The recently rebuilt landmark building at 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd. features a signature lighthouse at the corner of Cabrillo Boulevard and Helena Street and expansive views of the beach, Santa Barbara Harbor and Channel Islands.

“The perfect waterfront Santa Barbara location has eluded us for more than a decade – until now,” said Staunton. “When we saw that this legendary venue was available, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce our neighborhood restaurant concept to the Central California Coast,” said Staunton. “We’re now transforming the iconic building into a stylish seafood destination befitting the culinary transformation of the area.”
The Bluewater team looks to hire a Santa Barbara-based chef who will undertake rigorous training to master the Bluewater menu and sustainable seafood preparation. In addition, Bluewater will hire local management, servers, bartenders and kitchen personnel. Potential applicants can go to and fill out an application!

“It’s a thrill to bring Bluewater’s commitment to the absolutely freshest sustainable seafood – ranging from small plates and simply prepared fish dishes to the most elaborate chef creations – to the Santa Barbara beachfront,” said Ulcickas. “Given Santa Barbara’s role as a world-class resort and culinary town, with an exceptional wine heritage, we expect Bluewater Grill to be an ideal fit with local foodies, wine and seafood lovers, and visitors. We’re excited to be able to add spectacularly prepared seafood and shellfish to the local mix of options.”

Ulcickas said the restaurant is being remodeled with an inside/outside second-story bar to take advantage of the spectacular sunset and ocean views. Offering a sophisticated local twist on other locations operated by Staunton & Ulcickas, Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara will blend a decidedly upscale coastal casual theme with subtle references to Bluewater founders’ ties to Santa Barbara.  Avid fishermen, Staunton and Ulcickas regularly fish the Channel Islands aboard Bluewater’s own Pilikia swordfish harpoon boat to humanely catch pristine-quality swordfish.

Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara will serve lunch, dinner and small plates daily on two floors of the newly constructed building, an oyster bar, dining counter overlooking an open kitchen and an upstairs dining patio and bar offering beach views, local Santa Barbara County wine flights and locally caught seafood purchased directly from local commercial fisherman.

The new restaurant will print new lunch and dinner menus regularly to be able showcase the freshest seafood and shellfish, and offers a separate kid’s menu certified by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program and a popular weekday small plates menu of $4, $6 and $8 drink and appetizer specials.

“While we serve up to 40 varieties of seafood and shellfish, if it isn’t the absolute freshest possible, we won’t put it on the menu,” added Ulcickas. “That has been our philosophy since Day 1, and we’ll continue that commitment to the freshest fish, ingredients and cooking techniques in Santa Barbara.”

Another expected highlight will be a year-long calendar of seasonal seafood specials and monthly Chef’s Tasting events which pair seafood and shellfish with hand-selected wines, sakes or specialty draught beers. Hosted the second Tuesday of every month, the events have become a popular monthly diversion for local seafood aficionados and Bluewater Grill’s large fan base.

A number of long-term developments continue to transform the Santa Barbara Waterfront into a local and regional destination including the Californian Hotel complex on State Street near Cabrillo Boulevard and the rebuilding of Cabrillo Bridge across Mission Creek. Meanwhile, the nearby MOXI (Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation) will be the area’s first full-scale museum designed for families when it opens in early 2017.
Local brokers Michael Martz and Greg Bartholomew of Hayes Commercial Group represented all parties in the lease of the landmark location, which qualifies as the largest restaurant lease in downtown Santa Barbara in square footage in more than ten years.

Industry-leading Commitment to Sustainability

Since opening on Newport’s Cannery Village waterfront in 1996, Bluewater Grill has developed a reputation for not only serving the freshest seafood, but leading the industry in sustainable fishing and farming practices. Bluewater Grill was one of the first California or Arizona seafood restaurants to apply a full-disclosure menu philosophy and publish a Fish Origins Chart showing the specific farmed or wild source of every item on the menu. The prolific restaurateur has shared his marine stewardship secrets at the International Boston Seafood Show and has been featured on the cover of SeaFood Business, the nation’s leading trade publication for seafood restaurants and other buyers.

To date, more than 90% of the seafood offerings at Bluewater restaurants are sustainably caught or farmed – among the highest of any seafood restaurant in California. To be deemed sustainable, the seafood or shellfish must be certified by the Aquarium of the Pacific Seafood for the Future program; be designated a “Best or Good Alternative Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program; or adhere to strict Marine Stewardship Council best-practice standards for sustainable harvesting.

Thanks to the Pilikia, Bluewater is one of the few seafood restaurants that can provide sustainably-caught, pristine-quality swordfish directly to consumers in-season. Pilikia Captain Sean Burke targets only mature fish without the use of nets or long lines, harpooning the freshest most humanely harvested local swordfish.
Stay in the loop

Keep updated with all that’s happening at Bluewater! Join the Santa Barbara eCrew at, for exclusive news and locals-only special offers. Also visit us on Twitter or Instagram. Each Bluewater restaurant also has its own Facebook page for restaurant-specific menu offers, recipes, events and local happenings.



Reader Jason was in Summerland this week and noticed something new: Red Kettle Coffee has opened at 2275 Ortega Hill Road #A. Red Kettle Coffee was 10 months in the making and is brought to you by owner Megan Tingstrom, daughter of Richard “Tinker” Tingstrom, founder of the Tinker’s Burgers nearby. Red Kettle Coffee also offers teas, bagels, cookie, croissants, donuts, and muffins. A grand opening is planned for Saturday, December 3 starting at 10 a.m. Red Kettle Coffee is open  6 a.m. -3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Call 565-1900 or visit




Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood at 512 State Street now has a half-price wine list consisting of around 30 wines that is offered every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights.  Holdren’s recently started Happy Hour every day of the week from 4-6 p.m. “We serve lunch Monday thru Friday from 11:30- 2:30 and it is a great spot to bring clients or friends,” says owner Clay Holdren. Call 965-3363 or visit

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Mac’s Fish & Chip Shop at 503 State Street has closed and will become the new home of Hana Kitchen which is moving from 5 West Haley Street. Here is a message to you from owner Grant MacNaughton:

Hi John,

After 6 1/2 years of frying up authentic British Fish & Chips to the masses, it is with extremely mixed emotions that I announce that yesterday (Tues 29th) was Mac’s Fish & Chip Shop’s last day of business.

It has been an extraordinary ride so a massive thanks to the customers, staff, suppliers, friends, family and caffeine-based products who have supported us along the way.  Running a restaurant may be up there as the most physically and emotionally demanding things we have ever taken on (and remember, we have three young kids!), but we want to step down on a high and make way for a fresher set of legs and brain cells. My family will be happy to go on our first family vacation in six years, my friends will be happy that I don’t permanently smell of fish and, frankly, I’m sick of faking this ridiculous British accent.

Our successors at 503 State St (Hana Kitchen, who have outgrown their current Haley Street location and need more room to expand) intend to give our staff the opportunity to apply for positions in their new home so hopefully there will be little disruption to their employment.

Thanks again for all your support and, whatever you do, live life to the Mac’s (can you believe you that’s the first time I’ve used that pun?).

Mr & Mrs Mac

Back Camera



Somerset restaurant, offering California seasonal cuisine with Mediterranean and French influences, opens at 7 East Anapamu Street on December 9 in the the former home of Arts & Letters Cafe. The property has been extensively remodeled and the original courtyard has been upgraded.