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.




Reader Erica let me know that Bangkok Palace at 2829 De La Vina Street is planning to close at the end of February and move to a new location. I called the eatery and they confirmed the news and said they hope to reopen in April near Silvergreens restaurant at De la Guerra and Chapala streets.



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


My friend is throwing a “Surprise Wedding” which is only a week away.  I would like to know if any restaurants in Santa Barbara offers a bottomless mimosas brunch on a Monday? The exact date is actually, Monday, 2/17/14.

Thank you in advance.




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


I am writing to inquire about a chef that cooks in the Santa Barbara area. Back in mid November, I went to the restaurant Verde on State, and had a most wonderful dinner. Unfortunately, I’ve just found out the restaurant is closed. Thus, I am now seeking to find where the chef is working. I am not 100% sure, but I think his name was Chef Roberto. If you have any information regarding this chef, will you please contact me. Thank you in advance.

Take care,

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Reader Cathy let me know that a shop by the name of Napoleon’s Macarons has opened in the space where Ben & Jerry’s ice cream used to be at 305 Paseo Nuevo. A quick Wikipedia search reveals that a macaron is “a sweet meringue-based confection made with eggs, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food coloring.” The macaron is commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two biscuits. Napoleon’s has locations at Americana at Brand in Glendale and at Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park. For more information visit

Photos by reader Cathy



This just in from reader Cris:

Hi John, I was at the Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch (163 N. Fairview Avenue) in Goleta yesterday and noticed a sign saying they were moving next door to the old deli and looks to be taking over the Carvel ice cream store as well.



Here are 70 photos I took at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s tribute to Cate Blanchett on February 1, 2014. I actually took 700 photos (having a bit too much fun with my new Nikon) and these were the best of the bunch.


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


I’m looking for a nice venue/restaurant for a private dinner party of 50 for end of May. I want it to be intimate, nice not fancy but a great venue with good food, wine and atmosphere.




Last week I wrote that Santa Barbara’s storied Bennett family, owners of Brophy Bros. restaurant at the harbor, had taken over 1201 State Street, the former home of Maggie’s and State & A. I included a rumor about the Bennett family also being involved with the recent sale of Arch Rock Fish restaurant at 608 Anacapa Street. Family representative John Bennett recently wrote me to confirm the news:


Arch Rock is true!  We were able to finalize the deal, open escrow and successfully transfer the temporary liquor license on Thursday. Tomas Castelo (operating partner) and I were able to take early possession Friday morning with the help of Mike Anderson, John Giammanco and Danny Quinn.

Our immediate objective was to secure a stable tenant for the Hutton-Parker Foundation (landlord) and keep a heartbeat inside the space ultimately allowing 40+/- staff the opportunity to remain employed.

Since coming in, our team has been blown away by the staff”s commitment to Arch Rock which is a testament to both the brand and the Higgins family (previous owner).

Our plan is to keep the name, keep the staff, keep the menu and just provide the infrastructure and support currently needed for this brand to be a long term success. With the support of the community, hard work and sound business practices I don’t see any reason why this objective can’t be accomplished.

This project served many purposes and we are grateful to have the chance to participate.


John Bennett

TWO FOR TWO: The family behind Brophy Bros. restaurant is involved with the purchase of Arch Rock Fish restaurant, their second local eatery takeover in as many weeks.



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

Hello Restaurant Guy

I want to hold a one-day private wine event (education, tasting, fun activities) for up to 100 people in the Santa Barbara area and I am looking for a restaurant partner (location to hold event).  The ideal situation would be a restaurant that is new and interested in driving traffic and creating awareness. I thought you might know some restaurants that want to drive additional business at slow time – example restaurant closed from lunch to dinner on a Sat or Sun. Part of the deal is restaurant would get revenue associated with appetizers. No service or overhead associated. I would need to work that out with them.

I would welcome suggestions if you have anyone in mind.




Santa Barbara’s Film Feast is a unique take on Restaurant Week. Coinciding with the 29th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) January 30th – February 9th, Film Feast participants (restaurants, wine tasting rooms and hotels) offer special tasting menu’s and hotel packages using the theme “Made in Santa Barbara.”

Tasting menu highlights include “The Graduate Wine Flight” at Au Bon Climat Wine Tasting Room and Jim Clendenen Wine Library which includes 8 wines comprised of 4 sets – one older and one younger vintage of the same wine. “Santa Barbara Talent with Local Ingredients” at Savoy Café and Deli offer diners a choice of “Katy Perry Goleta Goodland Grub” or “Jack Johnson Farm-to-Fork.”

Restaurants offering prix fixe menus during the SBIFF include Alchemy Arts Cafe, Andersen’s, Arlington Tavern, Bistro 1111, Blue Agave, Blush, Brasil Arts Cafe, Ca’Dario, Crocodile Restaurant, Downey’s, Enterprise Fish Company, Finch & For, Julienne, Live Food Cafe, La Arcada Bistro, Nardonne’s, Olio e Limone, Opal Restaurant, Paradise Cafe, Pascucci, Sandbar, Savoy Cafe, Scarlett Begonia, State & Fig, The Lark, The Palace Grill and Ty Lounge.

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I received a tip that the new Avelina Wine Co. at 131 Anacapa Street in the Funk Zone closed down this week. I don’t know how long the closure will last. I called during business hours and nobody answers the phone.

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The Milpas Street Cow dates back to 1940 when there were numerous dairies operating around the city. That year, the Live Oak Dairy built the building at 901 North Milpas complete with the now-famous cow perched on top. Reader PrimeTime tells me that renovations recently started at that address and adds that the outside patio was removed last week. In 2011 I wrote that an eatery named Sublime would be taking over that spot and PrimeTime suggests that those plans remain on track.

Photo by PrimeTime

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Reader Mike tells me that things are being remodeled in our around Beachbreak Cafe at 324 State Street and that the business should reopen in a week or so.

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Regarding Tino’s Italian Grocery & Deli at 415 E. De la Guerra Street, that is planning to move to Carrillo Street, here is an update from reader Pam:

The patriarch may be gone & the “old” deli maybe moving, however, the matriarch, Edith,  is still here and rumour has it she is opening a new deli/grocery type store, in the “old” location. Since Edith was the co-owner and Mrs.”Tino” for over 50 years, tradition will carry on for years to come, albiet with a few changes & possibly some improvements…

Thanks Edith for stepping up and carrying on!

- Pam



Just as the city of Santa Barbara is considering reactivating the desalinization plant (for a reported $20 million) to battle the ongoing drought, I recently found an unopened bottle of the very expensive refreshment in a cabinet at my parents’ home in Montecito. It is labeled “Grand Opening April 14 1992 Santa Barbara Desalinated Water.” It was bottled by Santa Barbara Winery.




Word on the street is that In-N-Out Burger has been scouting for a new location in the lower Milpas area. When driving southbound on the 101 freeway there is an exit for Milpas Street North, that forms a tight curve around a property currently for sale at 926 Indio Muerto, the home of Mirales Automotive (behind Dal Pozzo tire). I spoke with Radius Group, who is managing the sale of the property, and was told that In-N-Out burger did approach them and express interest in the spot. In-N-Out determined that there are various problems with having a restaurant at that location, including the position of a stop light and the difficulty in getting a drive-thru permit. I’m told that there have not yet been any negotiations and that if a deal with In-N-Out Burger doe eventually happen with this spot it is a long way off.




This just in from Simply Pies, 5392 Hollister Avenue:

Hi John

Did you know that today, Thursday, January 23, is National Pie Day?  We are members of The American Pie Council and today is the day we celebrate everything pie!  We are offering several specials today including 2 slices of pie or pie a la mode for $5.  We are also offering free coffee to go with that pie.  Stop by and celebrate by enjoying a slice of pie!

Happy Pie Day!

The Simply Pies Team



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

Hello my name is Paul H Ramirez I am the grandson of Pascual Gamboa from Pascual’s Restaurant on State then Carrillo Street, then East Victoria Street. I was wondering if you of anyone who has pictures of the restaurants at any of these locations. I would like to see some maybe even puts base a few of them for family history. When we closed the restaurant on Victoria someone stole all of my grandfathers pictures that were on his restaurant walls of him at his best and others. If you could help or pass on to some who can I would appreciate it!
Thanks again,

Paul H Ramirez Sr.
Chula Vista, CA



Reader Mari let me know there is a new message on the web site for the Museum Cafe, 1130 State Street:

As of January 13, 2014, The Museum Café is temporarily closed due to a change in operators. Please check back here for updated information. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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This just in from Silvergreens restaurant (791 Chapala Street, 900 Embarcadero Del Mar, Isla Vista):

Good morning John,

I wanted to reach out to you and share with you some new changes we made to our menu at Silvergreens!

Both our Breakfast and Lunch & Dinner menus now feature several new menu items. We are excited to introduce our new Pepper Jack Steak breakfast burrito along with our new pancake breakfast option. Our Pancake entrée comes with three buttermilk pancakes topped with a delicious mixed berry sauce, powdered sugar and whipped cream.

Our guests are already raving about the new items on our lunch & dinner menu. Our new Dynamite Burger is a hit, fire grilled 100% natural beef patty topped with crunchy green fries, tomato, lettuce, and Sriracha dynamite sauce on a toasted brioche bun.  We also added three new side menu items, Kale & Cranberry Salad, Pesto Caprese Couscous, and Edamame Quinoa.

In addition to new items added to our menu, we also brought back some favorites to our menu, El Capitan Salad, Crunchy Green Fries, and our Chicken Alfredo. We are thrilled to announce the return of these old favorites to our menu!

Also starting this month, we will now open our doors at 7:30am every day!

*New Menu:
*New Hours:

Thanks John!

Brian Gloria
Business Development & Marketing Manager
Silvergreens Restaurants & Catering



Panera Bread bakery-café, represented locally at 700 State Street and 3851 State Street, has introduced new menu items including the Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous Salad, All Natural Turkey Chili, Power Chicken Hummus Bowl and Low-Fat B-Green Power Smoothie.

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


I love reading the Restaurant Guy and getting all the inside scoops and answers to the questions that plague me at 3 o’clock in the morning (was just thinking about The Pan’s darkened doors).

Today, it got me wondering if John might be in the know about any restaurants who rent out their kitchens on a super part-time basis.  We are a local SB artisan chocolate company, in search of a new locale to share about 4 hours a week… have been turning over every stone, but there doesn’t seem to be a ton of possibility within Santa Barbara city.

I know it’s a long shot, but if you happen to have any bees in your bonnet on this one, I would be incredibly grateful! Thanks so much for your time and for your column. Hope all’s well.




This just in from bouchon, 9 W. Victoria Street:

Hello John,

Hope 2014 has been treating you well!  Just a quick email to share some news on an upcoming remodeling project at bouchon.  We were informed by our landlord that the ficus and paper bark trees on the bouchon patio were, unfortunately, compromising the integrity of the underground utilities as well as threatening the foundation of the adjoining building so are to be removed tomorrow.  We’ve enjoyed 16 years in our beautiful garden setting and, as you would imagine, are terribly saddened by the loss of such wonderful urban greenscape.

That said, we will take advantage of this opportunity to perform some much needed upgrades to the patio area and, more importantly, create a new and vibrant space in their place.  It will take time for our new greenery to grow in, of course, but we fully anticipate the completed project will be as beautiful when complete as it is today.

Fortunately, we will only have to close for two days— January 21st and 22nd— so wanted you and your readers to know.  After, that, however, we will remain open for ‘business as usual’ in the restaurant every night (except Super Bowl Sunday, when we’ll have our 17th Annual Staff Holiday Party!).

Best to you, John, and thanks for always keeping us Santa Barbarians abreast of our local restaurant business news.

Mitchell Sjerven, Proprietor

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maggies-1Readers Peggy and Tinang let me know that a new sign has appeared at 1201 State Street, the former home of Maggie’s and State and A. I stopped by to check it out and saw a paper notice that says a new business named Benchmark Eatery (not necessarily the final name) will be the next tenant and that Benchmark is owned by 3 Sides Clear LLC.

As it turns out that was not the end of the story. I did some research and it appears that 3 Sides Clear LLC is managed by John and Susan Bennett, the owners of Brophy Bros. in the Santa Barbara harbor. The Bennett family is involved with the recent purchase of the Cliff Room bar at 1828 Cliff Drive on the Mesa. Rumor has it that the Bennett family might also be teaming up with the new owner of Arch Rock Fish restaurant that recently changed hands. Just sayin’.

I think this is great news for downtown Santa Barbara: a storied local restaurant family taking over an iconic local dining spot that had lost its way. Happy endings really do happen.

UPDATE: This just in from the Bennett family:

Hi John,

Thank you for your kind words and accurate reporting of the Maggie’s project and our involvement.  I am going to return the space to a casual eatery with high quality, value driven food and generous drinks. Our menu will focus on casual american fare with local relevance. Our price point will be similar to Brophy’s allowing everyone to join in on the experience. I am confident we will be introducing something new to the area ultimately bringing more traffic to surrounding businesses.

As for the patio, it is impossible to return it to the original open aired design. The fire sprinkler system, electrical, and structural integrity is tied into the rest of the building and codes restrict us from change. I sure wish I could open it up as it would be AMAZING but such is life ..

The previous owners are such nice people and I am happy to help them with the transition.

John Bennett
Benchmark eatery



I called Arch Rock Fish restaurant at 608 Anacapa Street today and was told that the eatery has been sold. The dining destination is open for business as usual. I left a message for management seeking further details.

UPDATE: I am now told that the deal to sell Arch Rock Fish has not yet been closed.

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