THE CHASE RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE CELEBRATES 40 YEARS

Much has happened on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara since 1979 but one thing remains the same. The Chase Restaurant and Lounge is still going strong as it celebrates it’s 40th year in business during 2019. The Chase has been the go to place for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and almost every other family special event for three generations.

The current owner, Jack Mathis, a retired Air Force Colonel, says it is common to have all three generations at the same table. “I see grandparents, their grown children and their children together celebrating some special occasion all the time”. Long time Santa Barbara residents love to tell stories about the original owners Tony and Angie Caligurie.

One thing The Chase is known for is the over the top Christmas decorations during the holidays. “We embrace the holidays and try to create family memories just as The Chase has since 1979. So many people tell me that the Chase has been a special place for them their whole life” Jack Mathis says

“Tony and Angie started what has become a Santa Barbara institution and my wife Jayme and I are just trying to live up to the 40 year Chase history and tradition of great Italian food in a warm inviting surrounding,” Jack Mathis said. That is possible because several of the staff have been with the Chase since almost the beginning.

Chef Mario Rodriguez, the Chase Executive Chef has been with the Chase since 1979 so the food is exactly as it was 40 years ago. Chef Mario trained with Tony the original owner and he prepares everything the same way. The Chase Chicken Picatta is said by many to be the best they have ever had and it will stay that way Mathis says.

When asked what is the biggest concern for the future of restaurant, Mathis said, “the landlord keeps raising the rent even though the downtown activity has decreased dramatically and the minimum wage keeps going up. Of course the cost of food ingredients continues to rise as well. Containing costs and having a reasonable rent is the only way to survive these days.”

Santa Barbara can only hope that The Chase is around for another 40 years to serve Classic Italian food like grandma makes and to continue making those unforgettable family memories.

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MANDARIN TOUCH TO CLOSE

Reader Primetime let me know that The Mandarin Touch at 1635 Mission Drive in Solvang  will be closing at the end of the month after 25 years in business.

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LA BELLA ROSA BAKERY IN GOLETA CLOSES

Reader Hugh passed the word that it appears like La Bella Rosa Bakery at 7127 Hollister Avenue in Goleta, near Albertsons, is closed. Hugh and The Restaurant Guy both paid visits multiple times and the place is locked tight. All the cases are empty and there is no signage. The business opened in February 2016. The flagship location on the west side at 1411 San Andres Street continues to be in business as usual.

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EMPRESS PALACE UPDATE

This just in from reader Pam:

“John:  I noticed that the for-lease sign has been taken down from the old Empress Palace location at Las Positas and Modoc.  Since that is my ‘hood’, I wondered if you knew what might be going into that location.  Thanks!”

I believe the American public deserves full transparency with respect to South Coast culinary activity so I will form a Special Counsel and launch an investigation into the matter ASAP.

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CHROME INCOMPATIBLE?

This just came in from reader Annie:

” I can’t get to your website using Chrome browser only Internet Explorer. Chrome says you have an unsafe website. Just FYI. I thought your website was out of business til I tried I.E. “

SantaBarbara seems to works fine with Chrome for me. How about other readers? FYI an entirely new, built-from-scratch SantaBarbara.com is under development which is why I lag so much getting the news out these days.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

“Hi John– There’s a question on Edhat about what was in the space in La Arcada that was Bogart’s, before Bogart’s?  I know that’s a long time ago, but hope you might know or be able to find out…. Some curious folks would appreciate knowing…. Thanks, Shelley”

The Restaurant Guy had an office in La Arcada in the late 1990’s and it was a video rental place named Bogart’s at that time which then became a restaurant of the same name.

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MANGIONE’S ITALIAN ICE COMING TO STATE

Reader Steve H. says that a sign for Mangione’s Italian Ice Company is now posted in the window at 1222 State Street, the former home of Spoon. I didn’t even know Spoon was closed. When did that happen?

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ENTERPRISE REMODEL

Reader Annie says that Enterprise Fish Co. at 225 State Street has completed a remodel and also updated their menu. You should check out the new digs and eats.

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SATELLITE UPDATE

Reader Jason says that Satellite Wine Bar at 1117 State Street has a patio that recently opened. I’m told that it’s small but is perfect for the weather we are now having.

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DOWNTOWN ACTIVITY

This just in from reader Shabadoo:

“Any idea what’s going into the space adjacent to the main entrance of the public market? It is part of the same development but separate from the public market and originally planned to be occupied by Fullof Life till they pulled out long ago. There recently has been a flurry of activity in the space including the installation of stoves and rotisserie so it appears to be a food business of some sort. Maybe one of your trusty readers can shed some light!”

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SPROUTS COMING TO MILPAS

Reader Primetime says that Sprouts market may be coming to 29 South Milpas Street, the former home of Trader Joe’s which moved to a bigger location up the street. I was at Sprouts on Fairview Avenue and asked the grocery clerk about the rumor and he said that the market is focusing on the launch of a new location in San Luis Obispo that opens April 3rd. I was told that after the launch, the focus will be on Santa Barbara where they hope to open a new location by early next year. He didn’t confirm the address but reader Primetime’s perfect track record leaves little doubt.

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NEW SATURDAY BRUNCH AND CHEF’S TABLE AT BELLA VISTA

Bella Vista restaurant at the Four Seasons Biltmore, 1260 Channel Drive in Montecito, have a couple of new offerings that the Restaurant Guy tried (and greatly enjoyed) recently that you should know about:

CHEF’S TABLE: Every Wednesday 5-9:00 p.m. Dine al fresco on Wednesdays at Bella Vista Restaurant for an interactive three-course dining experience that is sure to be a family favorite. Enjoy the culinary craftsmanship of Executive Chef Marco Fossati as he prepares your main course with fresh, local ingredients. Make your reservation between 5 pm and 6 pm to experience the cooking process from start to finish. Call 565-8237 for reservations or more information.

Courtesy photo

SATURDAY BRUNCH: You have likely heard about the popular Sunday brunch at the Biltmore, that has been a feature of the resort for decades, but I bet you didn’t know that they have a new Saturday Brunch, because it was just launched two weeks ago. Starters include  1/2 Dozen Oysters, Ahi Tuna Tartare, Crudo of the Day, Lobster Caprese , Red Bell Pepper Hummu, Classic Beef Tartare, and Farmers Market Salad, ranging in price from $14-$26. The Brunch Classics menu offers Lemon Ricotta Pancake, Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle, Carbonara, Chilaquiles, Steak and Egg, Bella Vegan,and Crab Eggs Benedict ranging in price from $21-$27. If you would like to end the feast with something sweet try Heather’s Bread & Butter Pudding, Chef’s Lemon Tart, “Affogato Al Caffe, ” Overnight Oats “Sundae,” or the Chocolate and Red Wine Lava Cake.

The Restaurant Gal and I enjoyed the lobster, Ahi Tuna, pancakes, and the Eggs Benedict, along with some made-from-scratch virgin Blood Marys. I can’t say I have had a better one. View Saturday Brunch menu details at tinyurl.com/biltmorebrunch.

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VEGAN CHEF CHALLENGE COMING TO SANTA BARBARA

Inspired by the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, Santa Barbara area restaurants are gearing up for the first-ever Vegan Chef Challenge in April. The friendly competition is a month-long event challenging participating chefs to create delicious vegan dishes for all patrons to enjoy. “Our goal is to promote awareness of the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle while encouraging more healthful vegan menu options at local restaurants,” said Beth Wettstein, a vegan since 2010, and the organizer of the Vegan Chef Challenge. “We hope to encourage everyone, not just vegans, to try out a dish.”

To participate, restaurants must agree to provide a complete vegan dining experience. To be considered vegan, ingredients must be free of dairy products, eggs, cheese, butter, meat, fish, poultry, whey, casein, gelatin, and glycerin (unless vegetable-sourced). Restaurants are also required to offer at least three new menu items throughout the month that are different from vegan options found on their regular menu and are not available yearround. Oil-free, low-fat, and gluten-free options are also encouraged, but not required. “Too often, the vegan option at restaurants is a salad or a veggie burger,” said Wettstein. “We want people to see that going vegan doesn’t mean giving up exciting, flavorful food.”

So far, participating restaurants include Satellite, Bibi Ji, Sama Sama Kitchen, Mesa Verde, Uncorked Wine Tasting and Kitchen,Viva Modern Mexican, Chase Bar & Grill, Bella Vista at The Four Seasons, and Opal, with more restaurants coming on board weekly. Categories include breakfast/brunch, appetizer, soup/salad, main entrée, and dessert. Awards in each category will be based on diner comments, photos, and the dining experiences of the Vegan Chef Challenge organizing team members. Chefs will be recognized at a special ceremony in May. To learn how to participate as a restaurant or a guest, visit theveganchefchallenge.com/santa-barbara. A voting system will be available online at that link starting April 1.

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BRASIL ARTS CAFE CELEBRATES 6 YEARS IN BUSINESS

The idea for Brasil Arts Cafe was born in 2008, during the Tea Fire. Owners Daniel and Jennifer Yoshimi lost their home in the fire, yet from the ashes of devastation, they put together a new dream of bringing Brazilian cuisine and culture to Santa Barbara. Over the Last 6 years Brasil Arts Cafe, at 1230 State Street,  has been offering a piece of Brazil, serving authentic Brazilian cuisine, offering live music, and dance classes. Like many businesses in the area, the cafe barely survived the slow down caused by the Thomas Fire and resulting floods. Through all the growing pains of a new business, and the local tragedies, Brasil Arts Cafe has persevered and is thrilled to celebrate our 6th year of business with much appreciation for the Santa Barbara community.  On April 6th they will be holding an anniversary party, offering a Forró dance class, which is a traditional partner dance similar to salsa, followed by live music and food specials through the weekend. The party costs $15, with dance class $25. On Sunday April 7th enjoy all-you-can-eat Feijoada with live Brazilian music at 2 p.m. for $15.00. Buy anniversary party tickets at brasilartscafe.com/events-1.

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

Reader Primetime says that a new ABC sign has appeared 423 State Street, the home of Velvet Jones, that announces alcoholic beverage permit ownership change as well as applications for a  type-47 permit (general eating place) and type-58 permit for catering. The acquiring business is Results May VARY LLC operated by managing member Formati Kumeh.

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CAFE ANA LAUNCHES HAPPY HOUR

Cafe Ana at 1201 Anacapa Street launched a new evening menu in early March, extended evening hours, and introduced a new happy hour. The all-day cafe, which opened its doors on December 10, 2018, offers a pared down selection of evening bites to complement the wine and beer offerings curated by Owner and Beverage Director Julian Sanders. The new happy hour menu, available from 4-6 p.m. features a glass of red and a glass of white wine at a discounted price along with some discounted bites. The new menu includes items such as Boquerones, Mixed Olives, and a small Mezze plate, along with favorites such as the Dill Kettle Chips and Roe, Country Pate, and Pimento Cheese Dip, among other things.

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HOLDREN’S 15TH ANNIVERSARY

This just in from Clay Holdren, namesake founder of Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood at 512 State Street:

“Hey John, I just wanted to let you know we are celebrating our 15 year anniversary with some specials for everyone to enjoy. March 12-14 we will have a $15 select entree menu along with happy hour pricing each night.  If you could help spread the word, that would be great. Thanks and I hope all is well. “

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CAFE DEL SOL FOUNDER JACK SEARS DIES

Montecito Journal columnist Richard Mineards recently announced the passing off local restaurant icon Jack Sears, age 84. Sears, with his wife Emilie, owned one of Montecito’s most iconic watering holes, Cafe del Sol, for nearly half a century. The  twosome sold the property by the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, now the Magic Castle, in 2013 and closed the popular restaurant the following year. Being from Montecito, The Restaurant Guy celebrated many a birthday  at Cafe del Sol, including decades ago when it was located in the upper village where Montecito Wine Bistro is now.

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MICHELIN GUIDE TO INCLUDE SANTA BARBARA

Michelin Guides are a series of guide books published by the French tire company Michelin for more than a century. Michelin and Visit California recently announced  an  expansion of the coverage with the creation of the  Michelin Guide California 2019.In addition to the previously covered San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country, the new Michelin Guide California will include restaurants in greater Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego and, I am happy to say, Santa Barbara.

“With access to many of the world’s best farms, food producers and vineyards, California cuisine is respected worldwide, not only for the quality of its ingredients, but also due to the creativity displayed by its chefs,” says Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides. “In addition, our inspectors have been impressed with the talent and innovation within the gastronomic community across the state. Michelin’s partnership combines Visit California’s strength in tourism with Michelin’s 120-plus years of experience in gastronomy.”

“California and Michelin are a perfect pairing, joining forces to show the world the innovation and breadth of the Golden State’s culinary landscape,” says Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “The diversity and abundance of dining opportunities here, including an unparalleled array of [international cuisines], women chefs and limitless agricultural bounty, sets California apart from any other destination in the world.”

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GLASS OPENS ON STATE

A new bar called the Glass House, from the owners of Milk & Honey and Alcazar, has opened in the patio next to 630 State Street, the former location of Blush. They had their soft opening last weekend and are expanding their hours in the coming weeks. I am told that they were inspired by botanist David Fairchild and have transformed Blush’s former outdoor space into a really lovely garden space.

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FESS PARKER 30TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort will pay homage to one of California’s best-loved wine producers, Fess Parker Winery, on the occasion of the winery’s 30th anniversary with an exclusive dinner, the “Fess Parker Wine Journey,” from 6-10 p.m. on Friday, March, 22nd at the resort’s Reagan Ballroom. For this special occasion, Hilton Santa Barbara Executive Chef Mossin Sugich and his culinary team will prepare a fresh and delicious culinary adventure paired with the Fess Parker’s signature wines, including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills. Tickets are $125 per person, including tax and gratuity. For more information or to purchase a ticket, please call (805) 884-8518 or email SBAFP_SpecialEvents@hilton.com.

“Our team is honored to host a wine and culinary celebration for Fess Parker Winery’s 30-year anniversary,” explained Hilton Santa Barbara General Manager Chris Inman. “Our goal is to create a memorable evening that speaks to seasoned Fess Parker Winery fans as well as a new generation of wine lovers.”

The wine dinner will begin with a video presentation and an intimate Q&A with the Parker Family hosted by Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine Managing Editor Leslie Dinaberg, followed by a reception and five delectable courses paired with the winery’s signature wines. With a focus on California’s coastal heritage, Chef Mossin has devised a menu that offers sustainable, locally sourced seafood, coastal cattle and fresh seasonal produce. Chef Mossin will pair each course with a carefully considered wine selection.

About Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard: Since their first vineyard planting in 1987, the Fess Parker family has enjoyed a long, successful history in Santa Barbara County, helping to pioneer the region’s reputation as an international destination for wine, hospitality and discovery, as well as developing many of the county’s prestigious vineyards. The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard at 6200 Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos now owns and farms more than 125 acres and works with more than 700 acres in Santa Barbara County.

Photos by John Dickson

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TWO NEW MESA BURGERS?

Last week I reported that Kahuna Grill at Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta has closed and is being replaced by a second location for Mesa Burger which has a flagship location at 315 Meigs Road on the Mesa. A rumor circulating around town is that a second new Mesa Burger may open at 1250 Coast Village Road, the former home Trattoria Mollie which moved to State Street.

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ROSEWOOD MIRAMAR BEACH OPENS IN MONTECITO

19 years was a long time to be closed for renovation but it was worth the wait. The Miramar Hotel in Montecito, which closed in 2000, then changed ownership a few times, and survived a gauntlet of design reviews and public hearings, has opened as the Rosewood Miramar Beach.

Owned and developed by  Los Angeles-based real estate developer Rick Caruso, the company behind many acclaimed shopping, dining and lifestyle destinations, Rosewood Miramar Beach was eagerly awaited by the community. “Rosewood Miramar Beach is the culmination of years of hard work and dedicated service to the Montecito community,” said Caruso. “What makes Miramar Beach so special, beyond the incomparable setting, is its history as a beloved icon of hospitality – it’s simply embedded in the land. We’re honored to now usher in a new era of hospitality and welcome locals and travelers back to this cherished retreat.”

Rosewood Miramar Beach features seven distinctive restaurants and bars. Helmed by Executive Chef Massimo Falsini – who joins the property with experience leading a Michelin-starred restaurant – the resort’s culinary program is characterized by locally and sustainably sourced produce. The new food and drink destinations include:

  • Caruso’s, the oceanfront restaurant, features al fresco seating over the sand with views only the South Coast can offer. Chef Massimo introduces a taste of Southern Italy to coastal Montecito through signature dishes. Caruso’s hopes to become a dining destination that locals and visitors will seek to experience time and time again.
  • Malibu Farm at Miramar, a farm-to-table concept by Helene Henderson, offers all-day dining in a “refined yet laid back” setting. The restaurant serves simply prepared plates crafted from fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.
  • Miramar Beach Bar, the Miramar’s oceanfront oasis with a sailing vessel theme, invites guests to enjoy an array of craft cocktails and snacks

The Miramar Beach Bar. Courtesy photo.

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CRUSH IS NOW UNCORKED

Reader Primetime let me know that  Crush Tasting Room and Kitchen that opened last September at 432 East Haley Street has a new name: Uncorked Wine Tasting and Kitchen. They have a new web site too, online at uncorkedwinesb.com. I’m told they had a rebranding party last week. Co-owner Michael Amador says Uncorked is pouring 20 wines (19 Central Coast and 1 Napa) through a wine dispensing system which keeps them fresh, and allows patrons to have a taste, a half glass, or a full glass. He also brought in local beer, cider and kombucha on tap, including Draughtsmen, Captain Fatty’s Rincon and others. Uncorked is open 3-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Call 690-4590.

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ROOFTOP NEWS

Reader Cris let me know that the Spyglass Bistro and Bar on the 4th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn at 6878 Hollister Avenue in Goleta is now officially The Rooftop Bistro and Bar, and that sign on the building was updated with the new name.

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OBBI’S BISTRO TO REPLACE PALAZZIO

Readers Steve H. and Annie let me know that a sign for Obbi’s Bistro brought to you by “The Latteria” has been posted at 1026 State Street, the former home of Palazzio which closed in 2015. Steve H. points out that  “latteria” means dairy in Spanish.

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25TH ANNIVERSARY

As you might have noticed, the Restaurant Guy blog updates have been sparse. All the local food news still makes it to you but it has been arriving in bursts. Sometimes two weeks go by without a word from me then – boom – a pack of stories gets posted. It’s because I have been busy working on a complete overhaul of SantaBarbara.com, and trying to get it done in time for its 25th anniversary this summer. And when I say “overhaul” I mean the whole current site is being scrapped, except for this blog which will remain similar. To say it is long overdue is an understatement.

In the summer of 1994 the first content for this site went online at http://west.net~santabarbara. It was scattered info about businesses and tourists spots around town with a few photos. The photos were scanned from negatives until 1995 when I bought a Kodak DC-40 digital camera for $700 that could hold a then-whopping 30 pictures. In the days before Google not a whole lot of people were able to find my site so that year I also bought SantaBarbara.com to try to boost traffic, and it more than solved the problem.

Here are the very first two photos I took for SantaBarbara.com, which happened to be restaurants: Moby Dick and SB Shellfish Co. Unfortunately they burned down 4 years later but were rebuilt.

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ESTILO JALISCO GRILLED TACOS AND TAKE OUT COMING TO MILPAS

Reader Steve H. sent me a tip that Estilo Jalisco Grilled Tacos and Take Out is coming to 209 South Milpas Street, across from The Habit Burger Grill. Look for updates here and on Instagram @EstiloJaliscoSB.

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HELENA AVENUE BAKERY INTRODUCES THE SUITE C DINNER SERIES

Helena Avenue Bakery has announced that they have introduced ta “Suite C Dinner Series” that  continues through April 12. Chef Adam Shoebridge (pictured), who specializes in  southern cooking, is shepherding this Funk Zone event series.

The roster includes Nashville Hot Chicken on March 1; Fat Tuesday Dinner on March 5 (ticketed event); Memphis Ribs on March 12; Nashville Hot Chicken on April 5; and Memphis Ribs on April 12.

Helena Avenue Bakery is located in the historic Castagnola warehouse and local landmark located at 131 Anacapa Street.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

“John, Have you heard anything about Enigma Wine Bar and Merchants, formerly WineHound in LC Plaza? They were planning to relocate to E. Canon Perdido and open by Jan. 2019, but I have heard nothing. – Vickie”

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