FIRST FOURTH

50 years ago last June 14th my parents packed up their stuff (and kids) in Palos Verdes, CA, and moved to Santa Barbara. We arrived on the South Coast between an oil spill and a moon landing.

During the last 50 years I have seen just about everything there is to see in Santa Barbara EXCEPT a 4th of July celebration. My parents have a tradition, that predates my existence, of spending 4th of July with friends who live in a spectacular bay-front home on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, and I have joined them each year, without fail, since I left the crib.

It looks like that tradition may have ended so I am about to experience a South Coast Independence Day for the first time. Where is the best place to watch the Santa Barbara fireworks show? What else do you do in town? Any tips you can provide would be appreciated.

The Boat Parade and Fun Zone in Balboa, CA

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4TH OF JULY AT CANARY

Head to the Canary’s roof for a free and open to the public event, where Finch & Fork will be grilling complimentary bites – like hot dogs and burgers – and slinging boozy slushies, cocktails, wine, and beer at the bar. Santa Barbara’s own Everything’s Fine will be providing the live music. For the first time ever, non-hotel guests can access the pool. A limited number of pool passes are available for $35, which gives guests access to the Canary pool, one drink ticket, plus access to the party on the lower deck. Party starts at 3pm. 31 W. Carrillo St. Visit tinyurl.com/canary4th

Photo courtesy of Canary

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THE LARK WINS COCKTAIL COMPETITION

Results of the third annual “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” cocktail competition are in, and the winner is “Sticky Fingers” by The Lark. “Sticky Fingers” was designated Santa Barbara’s official signature drink of 2019 at a finale judging event hosted by Visit Santa Barbara Thursday, June 20, at El Paseo Mexican Restaurant.

The cocktail will be on the menu at The Lark (an Acme Hospitality restaurant) for the remainder of the year. Local restaurants, bars and lounges were invited to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of Santa Barbara. The creation had to include a spirit from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a locally owned small-scale craft distillery located in the Funk Zone. Contestants were encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene.

“Sticky Fingers” is bright and herbal with a slight eucalyptus flavor. The cocktail uses locally sourced ingredients, from the base spirit, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits Gin to San Marcos Farms avocado blossom honey. The palate of the cocktail reflects juniper from Cutler’s Gin, and citrus and mint notes with a slight smoked agave background from the mezcal. Amaro Meletti extends the honeyed notes but adds a balance of bitterness and herb. The rich and floral San Marcos Farms avocado blossom honey balances the bright acid of the lemon, allowing a harmonious expression of Santa Barbara terroir.

Fourteen businesses entered the initial contest and the public had the opportunity to cast a vote for their top pick online, which narrowed the pool to five finalists: “Sticky Fingers” by The Lark, “The Glenn Annie” by Angel Oak at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, “Lucky Me” by Convivo at Santa Barbara Inn, “Eucalyptus Lane” by Finch & Fork at the Kimpton Canary Hotel, and “The Queen’s Rose” by Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen. To view descriptions of the five cocktails featured in the competition, visit tinyurl.com/sbdrink

The competition also featured a People’s Choice award, which went to Finch & Fork for their “Eucalyptus Lane” cocktail.

Television personality and Travelzoo Senior Editor Gabe Saglie emceed the event, and “Sticky Fingers” was declared the winner by a panel of judges including senior reporter for KEYT John Palminteri, freelance writer and editor Hana-Lee Sedgwick, senior editor for the Santa Barbara Independent Matt Kettmann, and “2018 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” winner and mixologist of Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara Tyler Ondatje. The Santa Barbara Independent also held a contest in which the public was invited to enter to win the chance to serve as a judge at the live event. More than two dozen would-be judges sent in entries, and Santa Barbara food and drink enthusiast Sarah Chhum was selected as the final judge.

In addition to having the exclusive rights to sell the “2019 Official Drink of Santa Barbara,” The Lark received prizes including a suite of promotional exposure through Visit Santa Barbara’s official destination marketing channels, gift basket full of local goodies from Santa Barbara Gift Baskets and Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, as well as an official certificate from City of Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo.

Santa Barbara Independent was the presenting sponsor. Additional sponsors for the “2019 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” competition included El Paseo Mexican Restaurant, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Sunstone Vineyard and Winery, and Bright Event Rentals.

The winning drink “Sticky Fingers.” Photo courtesy of The Lark

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JACKSON HONORS JEANNINE’S

Recognizing their extraordinary contributions to the Santa Barbara community, including being a gathering place following the devastation of the Thomas Fire, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) recently honored Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery as Senate District 19’s Small Business of the Year. Each year on California Small Business Day at the State Capitol, members of the California State Legislature recognize a small business for their contributions to the community.

“Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery exemplifies a business that deeply cares about its staff, its customers, and its community,” said Jackson. “Since its founding, Jeannine’s has shown that food can bring us together and be a source of community and healing.”

Founded in 1987 by Eleanor and Gordon Hardey, Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery is a family-owned restaurant and bakery with two locations in Santa Barbara and one in Montecito. It is well-known in the Santa Barbara community for its fine food and friendly customer service as well as its efforts to create community through food.

Now primarily under the direction of Alison Hardey, who is a co-owner along with her parents, Jeannine’s continues to encourage its staff to get involved in local community efforts. Their commitment to public service is reflected through their numerous contributions to nonprofit organizations, including hospice, local pre-schools, schools and colleges, the Breast Cancer Society Center, and the Santa Barbara Music Academy.

Following the Thomas Fire and subsequent Debris Flow, Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery opened its doors to offer what Hardey described as “a cup of coffee, a scone, a willingness to listen,” and to be a location for the community to get the latest recovery information post-disasters.

Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery’s most recent community service project is with the Walter and Lois Capps Foundation, to start “Common Table” events in various cities throughout the county including Montecito, Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, and Carpinteria. They co-host these events to provide spaces for people to share a meal and establish a greater sense of community.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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SUMMER FUN AT COUNTRY MART

Here is the latest from Montecito Country Mart at 1016 Coast Village Road next to Vons. Visit montecitocountrymart.com for details:

TUESDAYS: Chess Club! Learn to play from our Chess Master, or play on your own if you already know how. 4:30-6pm

WEDNESDAYS: Poppy Book Club at 3:30pm with summer reads & delicious treats from Merci – email bonjour@poppystores.com to sign up.

THURSDAYS: Complimentary Itty Bitty’s at Rori’s, 3-5pm – pick up a coupon inside of Poppy Marché to redeem for your ice cream.

FRIDAYS: Movie Night, 6pm in the courtyard

SATURDAYS (starting June 29): Petting Zoo! 1-4pm

SUNDAYS: Ping pong, 1-4pm

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PASCUCCI SUMMER HOURS

This just in from Pascucci at 729 State Street:

Hi John,
Thanks again for helping Pascucci celebrate our 25th anniversary earlier this month! I just wanted to let you that we are  starting our summer hours this week. We will be open until 9:30 Sunday-Thursday, and we’re trying something new this summer, on Friday & Saturday night we will be serving our full menu until 9:00, and we will be staying open until 11:00 serving a pared down menu of favorites,  (with our full bar,)  along with a few fun NEW  things  the cooks will be creating (specials not on our regular menu) …who wouldn’t like to try “sweet & spicy bacon wrapped chicken, served with a side of Italian mac & cheese” yum…
Thanks!

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Hey John,
Just noticed there was some construction going on in the former home of Carrows, and Denny’s at 5677 Calle Real in Goleta. Any word on what may pop up there?
– Brian

I am guessing that the property owner is just enhancing the building to attract a renter based on the fact that there is still a for-lease sign up. Of course I could be totally wrong and the ball might be rolling already for a new occupancy. I spoke to the real estate agent mentioned on the sign and he couldn’t tell me anything, which is understandable.
– John

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ERROL WILLIAMS DIES

The Palace Grill‘s popular General Manager and always-smiling face at the front door Errol E. Williams has died after a very brief battle with cancer, I am told. He was born December 1, 1951 and died June 8, 2019. Williams had been with the eatery for decades and is said to have been planning to retire this summer.

Here is background about Williams that is still posted on palacegrill.com:

Meet Our General Manager: Errol Williams

Born in Jamaica, Errol honed his skills in the food service at the Terra Nova Hotel. His US career started at the Homestead Hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia, where he was soon promoted to Maitre’d, the youngest in the hotel’s history.

Over the years, Errol has worked in several 5-star restaurants but he finally found his home at The Palace Grill. He started as assistant manager and became the general manager in the spring of 2000. Errol is a consummate host whose love for guest satisfaction is unequalled.  After 46 years in the restaurant industry, you’ll still find Errol at the front desk of The Palace Grill – greeting, smiling and talking to new and long-standing customers.

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THE CRYSTAL BALL KNOWS ALL

After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of food and drink locations appearing in your future:

  • Borrello’s, 3807 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria (formerly Borrello’s Pizza and Pastaria)
  • Bristol Farms, 3855 State St. (formerly Vons at La Cumbre Plaza)
  • Cachuma Lake Café, Cachuma Lake, Santa Ynez
  • Ca’ Dario, 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (formerly Giovanni’s)
  • Copenhagen Sausage Garden, the Funk Zone
  • Dave’s Drip House (ice cream), 193 S. Turnpike Rd. (near Vons)
  • Estilo Jalisco Grilled Tacos, 209 S. Milpas St. (across from The Habit)
  • Fala Bar vegan restaurant, 38 W. Victoria St. (SB Public Market)
  • Flightline, 521 Firestone Rd., Goleta (replacing High Sierra Grill)
  • Jagga Daku LLC,  718 State St. (formerly Goa Taco, Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen, Killer B BBQ,  Kozmo’s, California Crisp, and Fat Burger)
  • Jeannine’s Bakery, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta (formerly Dickey’s Barbecue Pit)
  • La Michoacána, 21 N. Milpas St.
  • Leadbetter, 23 E. Cabrillo Blvd (formerly Wheel Fun and L.T. Cinnamon)
  • Little Dom’s Seafood, 686 Linden Ave., Carpinteria (formerly Sly’s)
  • Mangione’s Italian Ice, 1222 State St. (formerly Spoon)
  • Mesa Burger, 1209 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf)
  • Oku Sushi, 29 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (formerly El Torito)
  • Oppi’s Bistro and Natural Pizza, 1026 State St. (formerly Palazzio)
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland (formerly Stacky’s Seaside)
  • Sprouts, 29 S. Milpas St. (formerly Trader Joe’s which moved up the street)
  • Starbucks Drive-Thru, empty lot at Turnpike Ave. and Calle Real
  • Taqueria Santa Barbara, 1213 State St. (formerly Jersey Mike’s)
  • The Daisy Restaurant, 1221 State St. (formerly McDonald’s long ago)
  • Vons Chicken (Korean BBQ), 955 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista (formerly Sweet Alley)
  • 7-Eleven, 700 State St. (formerly Panera Bread and Left at Albuquerque)
  • Unnamed French Bakery, 34 E. Canon Perdido St. (formerly Miso Hungry  and Sojourner Cafe)
  • Unnamed Steakhouse,  20 W. Figueroa St. (formerly The Sportsman)
  • Unnamed Tapas, 7 E. Anapamu St. (formerly Smithy)
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THE MODERN ERA BEGINS

On November 17, 2017 I promised you that Modern Times Beer will be coming to 418 State Street, the former home of India House. Reader Andy says that I kept my word and that the popular brewery has opened their 6th location, joining Cubaneo and Shaker Mill in the now fully occupied lower State Street space. Other locations for Modern Times Beer include two in San Diego (Point Loma and North Park), one in Los Angeles, one in Encinitas, and a location to the north in Portland, Oregon.

Modern Times Beer offers 34 different beers on tap, with the core lineup being about 8, while the rest rotate in constantly to give you access to everything they have to offer. All beer offerings are brewed at their Portland, Los Angeles, or San Diego locations, and each region brews different things depending on needs and production schedules. In addition to the tasting room they have a kitchen for hot food and a mini-mart with beer to-go and t-shirts/bags.

The bar menu is 100% plant-based yet not in the traditional sense, going for bolder and richer flavors than you might expect. They offer a double-double burger, a Bratwurst Schnitzel sandwich, loaded chili verde fries, Kimchi, and more. The cheese is made from coconut milk while the proteins are made by Beyond Meat which recently had a wildly successful public offering.

When you walk into Modern Times Beer, one of the first things you will notice is the huge outdoor patio (one of the largest if not the largest in Santa Barbara) and an extensive amount of art on the walls. Modern Times Beer has an in-house art team that created all the design elements that you see. They designed the to-go beer can labels, the merchandise, the tasting room space – pretty much everything under the roof or outdoors.

Continuing with the everything-done-in-house theme, I am told that Modern Times Beer also roasts their own coffee, available for sale as whole bean or cold brew in cans or in draft.

Hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday. Call 566-9294 or visit moderntimesbeer.com

Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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ROCKET FIZZLE?

This just in from Bernard in Mission Canyon:

Rocket Fizz on State Street has closed. Not exactly a restaurant, but an important food source for all the junk food junkies in town.

I looked into this briefly and their web site no longer lists a location in Santa Barbara and nobody answers the local phone number.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Hey there!
I’m a TV producer in Studio City and I’m trying to get in contact with John Dickson for one of our food shows! We’d love to have him be our guest as we sample some of the amazing food in Santa Barbara. If someone could please forward my email to him or let me know how I can get in contact with him that would be wonderful.
Thanks,
Ben

Should I do this? It seems to me that this would be the job of a culinary artist or a food critic. “Tastes great!” and “I’m sure the chef meant well” are the extent of my reviewing skills.

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LOCALE OPENS IN SB PUBLIC MARKET

Reader Andy received this email from Justin West, owner of Soul Cal Smokehouse, and eateries of yesteryear Julienne and Wildwood Kitchen:

SOUL CAL SMOKEHOUSE IS ON AXXESS!!!
For years and years at Julienne people asked us for an Axxess Deal but because of the size of that dining room we could never make it pencil out. But at Soul Cal that isn’t the case. If you haven’t been down yet AND you have an Axxess Card then now is the time to come check us out. It’s a Buy One Get One with 10% off for future visits!! It’s a sweet deal, no doubt!

NEW CONCEPT ALERT!!!
What? Really? Yes, we have been given an opportunity to cook in another beautiful kitchen here at The Santa Barbara Public Market and starting this Saturday, June 1st we will open LOCALE. The definition of Locale is what chose the name; a place where something happens or is set, or that has particular events associated with it. That definition says it all. Here’s what the plan is.

For some time now I have been looking for a kitchen which would allow me to bring all of my different cooking to the community of Santa Barbara. The Cooking Classes, The Pop Up Dinners, The Provisions and….. another concept outside of BBQ for those of you who don’t eat BBQ.. (And I know there’s more than a few of you because I don’t see you anymore!!) In addition to these events where our cooking is featured, we also anticipate hosting other chef Friends who want to feature their own cooking.

Carter and I are proud to bring you LOCALE!!

We will be doing business out of the other back corner kitchen here at the Public Market. Former home of Pasta Veloce by Ca Dario. The menu is designed to feature a Julienne vibe, in this casual Market Setting. It will be counter service, but we will course things out for you. We will not have an ABC License but you can eat in The Garden or at Wine Plus Beer or at one of the tables in front of our kitchen where you can watch the action go down in our open kitchen.
I’m really excited to see where this new venture takes us. I am excited to get back to whole animal butchery and food education and I am excited to share it all with you. If you want to see me in the kitchen again, come down and check us out at LOCALE!

Sincerely,

Justin West
Soul Cal Smokehouse
LOCALE
SoulCalSmokehouse.com
LocaleSantaBarbara.com (Coming Soon)

LOCALE has opened in the former home of Pasta Veloce (pictured)

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MONARCH UPDATE

Here is a press-release from The Monarch restaurant inside the Montecito Inn at 1295 Coast Village Road:

I wanted to make sure that you were aware of an update recently made at The Monarch. A week ago, they added a more relaxed section where guests first walk into the restaurant called “The Lounge at The Monarch.” Hotel guests and locals alike can enjoy the comfortable couches, plush oversized chairs, and cozy atmosphere for a glass of wine and Margarita’s sourdough baked bread, salad of Salanova lettuce over lunch, or handmade pasta for a late-night bite. The Lounge is open seven days a week from 11:30am – 10pm and offers a variety of small bites as well as a few larger plate selections – all available à la carte. Dishes range from $6 – $22.

For dinner, The Monarch remains open daily from 5pm – 10pm and now serves a nightly tasting menu where patrons can select from multiple courses and curate a tasting menu to their own liking. Additionally, a wine pairing is available and dinner pricing begins at Four Courses for $55 ($85 with wine pairing), Six Courses $85 ($130 with wine pairing), Eight Courses $110 ($170 with wine pairing), and Twelve Courses $165 ($255 with wine pairing). The curated dinner can be made with fewer or additional courses, and allows for anything from four courses of the same dish (such as Montecito favorite, Wagyu Short-Rib), or a dinner completely made up of four courses of dessert (which currently would include Baked Brie, Bergamot, Strawberry, and Dark Chocolate). The tasting menu is strongly encouraged, but each dish may be purchased à la carte.

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TAQUERIA COMING TO 1200 BLOCK OF STATE

Readers Primetime and Jason tell me that a new restaurant is coming to 1213 State Street, the recently former home of Jersey Mike’s.  A sign on the wall says “Taqueria Santa Barbara

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COCKTAIL CONTEST

The third annual “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Cocktail Contest will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thurs., June 20 at El Paseo Mexican Restaurant, 813 Anacapa St. Visit Santa Barbara is the host of the contest and The Santa Barbara Independent is the presenting sponsor. Additional sponsors include Bright Event Rentals, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Sunstone Vineyard and Winery, and El Paseo Mexican Restaurant.

Last year’s craft cocktail contest winner was “Biltmore Fuerte” (“Biltmore Strong” in Spanish) by Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, which used Cutler’s Artisan Spirits’ 33 Bourbon as a base spirit and Super Bee Rescue “Thomas Wildfire Honey.”

Local restaurants, bars and lounges were invited to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of Santa  Barbara. The creation had to include a spirit from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a locally owned, small-scale craft distillery located in the Funk Zone. Contestants were encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene.

The five finalists that came out on top include:

  • “The Glenn Annie” by Angel Oak at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
  • “Lucky Me” by Convivo at Santa Barbara Inn
  • “Eucalyptus Lane” by Finch & Fork at the Kimpton Canary Hotel
  • “The Queen’s Rose” by Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen
  • “Sticky Fingers” by The Lark

Finalists will participate in the live competition emceed by Gabe Saglie, television personality and senior editor for Travelzoo. Judges will include senior reporter for KEYT John Palminteri, freelance writer and editor Hana-Lee Sedgwick, senior editor for the Santa Barbara Independent Matt Kettmann, and “2018 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” winner and bartender at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara Tyler Ondatje.

Tickets for the competition are on sale to the public now. Tickets are $25 and include one glass of wine, appetizers and a sample of the five finalists’ entries (while supplies last). Event-goers must be 21 or older to attend. Sunstone Winery will be pouring wine. Beer, wine and cocktails also will be available for purchase at the bar. Tickets are limited. For more information, visit SBIndyTickets.com.

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JEANNINE’S OPENING IN JULY

A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the future home of Jeannine’s Bakery, coming to Hollister Village Plaza at 7060 Hollister Avenue in Goleta, a space previously occupied by Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. I was told they hope to open in July.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Are you ever going to talk about the absolutely DISMAL results of the S.B. food scene in the recently published Michelin guide ? The truth is that there are simply NO fine dining available in S.B. There are a number of “eateries” where you can get food to keep you fed when you do not feel like cooking at home, but NO place where you really WANT to go out to to thoroughly ENJOY yourself .. So why aren’t you commenting on this ?

– Dugan

I try to stick to news and leave my opinion out of it which nobody cares about anyway. That being said, I wouldn’t say the 2019 Michelin Guide results (in which no local restaurant received a star) is a smoking gun for an unfavorable local dining scene. It could also be that Michelin didn’t spend a lot of time and money here (they don’t eat for free) and just added Santa Barbara as a covered region to sell more guides. – The Restaurant Guy

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LOCAL EATERIES INCLUDED IN CALIFORNIA MICHELIN GUIDE

Readers Dugan and Annie tell me that 2019 Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide is out. I’m hearing that the book’s “Bib Gourmand” designation is reserved for those restaurants “that serve high-quality meals which include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less” and that Santa Barbara’s Mesa Verde and Sama Sama Kitchen were included. I’ll put out an update if more restaurants are announced in other categories.

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VONS KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN COMING TO ISLA VISTA

Reader Don let me know that the Daily Nexus newspaper has announced that 2019 UC Santa Barbara alumna Sophie Xu has purchased Sweet Alley at 955 Embarcadero del Mar in Isla Vista and plans to transform it into Vons Chicken, a San Jose-based franchise that serves over 10 different renditions of authentic Korean fried chicken. With renovations set to begin next month, Xu plans to completely change the interior and is considering obtaining a light liquor license. The Nexus reports that in addition to regular seating Xu plans to make Vons Chicken “grab and go” where a customer  they can be on their way in as little as 10 minutes.

Is Alberstons Chicken coming next?

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SWEET ALLEY CLOSES

On May 15, the Sweet Alley dessert destination at  955 Embarcadero del Mar in Isla Vista closed its doors. The business opened in February 2009.

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TASTE AND SOUNDS OF OLD TOWN GOLETA

The Taste and Sounds of Old Town descends happily upon Old Town Goleta on Saturday June 8th. Gates open at 1 p.m., and the event starts with the sounds of Soul Machine playing their unique old school sounds of funk, dance and R&B in the Beer / Wine / Garden at 5901 Hollister Avenue.

Patrons will receive a wristband entitling them to taste at 16 destinations along the Taste Route, from historic to modern. The Habit in Old Town is the second for the chain, which launched in Isla Vista in 1969. The Old Town Habit still serves up the Original Chili Burger, the only Habit in the country to do so. Iconic Pepe’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant will serve up 3 amazing dishes. Asian stars Gimeal and Pattaya Thai are not to be missed. New kids on the block the Old Town Coffee Company are ready to show patrons why they’ve got such a strong following. The variety of tastes on offer for this event is both broad and delicious.

“One of the delights of the Taste is to try restaurants you didn’t even know were there. These are the authentic longtime mom-and-pop eateries with amazing food that only locals know about,” said Goleta Old Town Community Association Board member Phebe Mansur.

Goleta Old Town Community Association (GOTCA) is a local community non-profit that puts on the Taste event. They also host a Halloween Candy Crawl, area clean-ups, and the hugely attended Goleta Christmas Parade. They recently won national recognition in the Neighborhoods USA “Neighborhood of the Year” competition.  “People don’t know just how much life there is in Old Town. We have a lot to offer! We’re excited for people to come out and visit Old Town for a unique experience, and to discover new favorite haunts,” said GOTCA board member Grace Wallace.

This won’t be one of those events where you get a nibble and a sliver of radish as a Taste. “People need to approach this like Thanksgiving. The Taste is a restaurant crawl with over 20 unique and flavorful tastes on offer – come ready to eat!” says GOTCA board member Mark Navarro. “We’ve warned the judges to starve themselves in advance of the event: Mayor Paula Perotte, Councilmember Kyle Richards, County Supervisor Gregg Hart, and Gary from the Gary and Catherine Morning Show on KLITE 101.7 FM. Expect these restaurants to try to win you over at the door, and impress you with their cuisine. Some intend to stuff you with so much great food that you can’t make it to another Taste destination, which is not a bad strategy.” In addition to formal judging, all Taste patrons get to select their favorites for the People’s Choice awards: Best of the Taste in flavor, presentation, and hospitality.

The Taste also hosts a Beer / Wine / Cider garden at Prestigious Auto where event patrons can try local brews from hometown establishments Santa Barbara Cider Company and M Special. Windrun Wines is pouring a locally crafted Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, from very limited stock. Goleta Winery SAMsARA’s deliciously crisp wines will also be poured. Your first drink is included with your Taste ticket.

The Taste is a community fundraiser for the Goleta Christmas Parade. Tickets are on sale now at goletataste.com. Advance tickets receive a $5 discount. Members of Goleta Old Town Community Association also receive a $5 discount.

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PASCUCCI CELEBRATES SILVER ANNIVERSARY

In the early 1990’s, while I was busy building a web site that lead to the birth of this restaurant column, proprietor Laura Knight was busy starting an actual restaurant, Pascucci at 729 State Street. Her eatery was a smash hit and continues to be popular today, 25 years later. Knight send me a message about her plans for the milestone:

Hi John,

I wanted to let you know, Pascucci is celebrating our 25 year anniversary this month! From Thursday June 6th, for one week, we will be offering 25% off of our top selling 25 items on the menu!. Additionally,  for 25 days, through the end of June we will be celebrating HAPPY MONTH. Our Happy Hour prices are normally weekdays 3-6 p.m., but they will be offered all day &  night, every day of the week,  for 25 days. We would like to thank all of our loyal customers that have been  dining at Pascucci for 25 years. We really appreciate them.

Laura Knight

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SUMMERLAND RUSTY’S SHOWING SIGNS OF LIFE

In April of 2015 I posted tips from readers Foodie Dan and Meghan that Rusty’s Pizza had acquired the property at 2315 Lillie Avenue in Summerland, the long time home of Stacky’s Seaside. In June 2017 reader Ocean let me know that Stacky’s had closed its door permanently. Exactly two years then went by without so much as a peep from me about Summerland until I received a message this week from reader Tom: “Hi – love reading your column!  I saw today construction workers at the old Stacky’s in Summerland.  Lots of activity going on and first sign of life there in over a year.” Growing up in Montecito I frequented Stacky’s and was sad to see it go, but I also have been a life long fan of Rusty’s Pizza so, for me, this story will have a happy ending.

Stacky’s Seaside in 2005

The Restaurant Guy (standing) celebrating his birthday at Rusty’s Pizza on Carrillo Street in 1977.

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PASTA VELOCE CLOSES

Ca’Dario Pasta Veloce, a small eatery inside the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria Street has closed after a year in business. A sister restaurant in the market, Ca’Dario Pizza Veloce, continues to be open for business as usual.

Ca’Dario Pasta Veloce

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GOA TACO CLOSES

Readers Cris and Andy tell me that Goa Taco, which opened at 718 State Street in June 2017, has closed its doors. Andy says there is a “Public notice of application for ownership change” sign in the window with “transfer to new owner” called out. I’m told that the interior is in some disarray and the poles marking the outdoor seating area have been broken and not repaired.  Andy says the new owner is listed as “Jagga Daku LLC” with a notice date of May 25th.

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MESA BURGER OPENS IN THE GOODLAND

Camino Real Marketplace has a new tenant. The popular Mesa Burger restaurant has opened a second location at 7010 Marketplace Drive in Goleta where Kahuna Grill called home for 17 years until they closed last February. Owners Chris Chiarappa, award-winning chef Cat Cora, and General Manager Pixie Saavedra opened the flagship Mesa Burger location at 315 Meigs Road in December 2016. Saavedra tells me that both restaurants have the same exact menu but may have a couple of different beers on tap.

Mesa Burger offers gourmet, handcrafted burgers, farm fresh salads, locally-brewed beers, Santa Barbara County wine, and ice cream in scoops, hand-spun shakes, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. their produce is sustainably grown, ingredients are conscientiously sourced, and sauces are made fresh daily. The beef burgers are fresh, locally produced USDA Choice custom blend, served on a brioche bun. Mesa Burger also has a selection of turkey, chicken, fish, vegan / vegetarian burgers.

Saavedra says that one of the most popular items on the menu is the Montecito Burger (glazed mushrooms/onion ring/arugula/grilled onions/goat cheese/truffle aioli), second only to Mesa, their classic burger, which most people modify. Other burgers include Downtown (grilled onions/fried jalapeños/blue cheese/sriracha yogurt sauce), Mission (pico de gallo/butter lettuce/pickled jalapeño/tortilla strips/pepper jack cheese/black bean aioli), Leadbetter (sliced red onions/grilled pineapple salsa/crushed avocado/lettuce/ginger teriyaki), Shoreline (veggie patty/pickled red onions/spinach/salsa verde/red pepper hummus), Hope Ranch (grilled chicken breast/bacon/lettuce/tomato/swiss cheese/pesto aioli), Funk Zone (fried egg/bacon/roasted tomato/cheddar cheese/bbq sauce), Goodland (sliced bratwurst/crispy onion strings/bacon/cheddar cheese/smoked bbq sauce), and Harbor (daily catch fish/coleslaw/tomato-olive spread/mesa burger sauce) which range from $10-$14. All burgers include fries. Visit mesaburger.com.

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RESTAURANT CLOSINGS

Here is a list of area eateries that have closed in the last year: Every few months I publish a list of restaurant openings, closings, and a list of restaurants that are coming soon.

  • May 2019: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 1209 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (changing to a restaurant); Senior Frogs,  892 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Smithy, 7 E. Anapamu St. (changing to a tapas place)
  • April 2019: Borrello’s Pizza and Pastaria, 3807 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria (I’m told it will reopen under new ownership with same restaurant name); Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista (moved to 1936 State St.); Jersey Mike’s Subs, 1213 State St.; Red Pepper Restaurant, 282 Orange Ave., Goleta
  • March 2019: Green Star Coffee, 38 W. Victoria St.; La Bella Rosa Bakery, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • February 2019: Kahuna Grill, 7010 Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta (now Mesa Burger)
  • January 2019:  Giovanni’s, 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (changing to Ca’ Dario); Rodney’s Grill at the Hilton, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
  • December 2018: Big Eye Raw Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.; Hanamura, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista (now Hanamura Cantonese Dim Sum); One Piece, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Mala Town); Pacific Crepes, 705 Anacapa St.; Spoon, 1222 State St. (changing to Mangione’s Italian Ice); Your Cake Baker by Wayne Kjar, 2018 Cliff Dr. (now The Little Things Bakery)
  • November 2018: Sunny Korean Restaurant, 532 State St. (now Mosto Crudo); Wildwood Kitchen, 412 E. Haley St.
  • October 2018: Basil’s, 608 Anacapa St.; Burger Barn, 3621 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez; Santa Barbara Brewing Company, 501 State St. (now Cruisery)
  • September 2018: El Pollo Rico, 5698 Hollister Ave., Goleta (now La Guerrerita); Good Cup, 1819 Cliff Dr. (now Lighthouse Coffee); Mundos, 901 N. Milpas St. (now Bossie’s Kitchen); Pinkberry, 742 State St.; Sly’s, 686 Linden Ave., Carpinteria (changing to Little Dom’s Seafood); Urkeb, 413 State St.; Vons in La Cumbre Plaza, 3855 State St. (changing to Bristol Farms)
  • August 2018: El Pollo Loco, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta (now Masala Spice); Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.; Frankland’s Crab & Co., 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (now Sushi|Bar); HiWi Tropical Fusion, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Mala Town); Locavore Kitchen, 21 W. Victoria St.; Miso Hungry, 134 E. Canon Perdido St. (changing to a French bakery); Paesano’s Pizzeria, 1429 San Andres St.; Trattoria Mollie, 1250 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (moved to 1218 State St.)
  • July 2018: Taco Tuyo, 724 E. Haley St. (now Buena Onda)
  • June 2018: Cadiz, 509 State St. (now Alito’s); Grilled Cheese Truck, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (now California Taco); Nicky D’s Wood-Fired Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St. (now Lilsey’s Wood-Fired Pizza); Rincon Brewery, 6583 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Rockfire Grill); Worker Bee Café, 5599 Hollister Ave, Goleta (now Uniboil)
  • May 2018: Chipotle,723 State St.; Empress Palace, 2251 Las Positas Rd.; Mattei’s Tavern restaurant, 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos; Peet’s Coffee, 1131 State St.; Sorriso Italiano, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista (now Hanamura); Subway, 1936 State St. (now Ike’s Love & Sandwiches); Wildwood Café, 1130 State St.

Goleta dining institution Red Pepper closed after decades in business

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DAVE’S DRIP HOUSE COMING TO GOLETA

Reader Don noticed a Coming Soon photo on Instagram for Dave’s Drip House, an ice cream and cereal bar coming to 193 South Turnpike Road near Vons. The new dessert destination will be brought to you by the same friendly guy behind Dave’s Dogs, across the parking lot at 149 South Turnpike Road.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

The Santa Barbara Independent has in Legal Notices for “Abandonment of Fictitious Business Name” the name of Moby Dick Restaurant. What’s Up?
– Reader Des

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