Some people like chain restaurants for the popular food and the jobs they bring. Others don’t like them because they feel chain restaurants can ruin our unique charm and turn Santa Barbara in to another suburb of L.A. How do you feel about the issue? If you like them, which ones do you want to open here?

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  1. NANCY says:

    I personally want Rubio’s here in SB! Great, affordable mexican food. I was SO disappointed when their deal in the 700 block of State fell through. (Especially since Chino’s Rock n Tacos closed – another huge bummer of 2010.) Off topic: One “chain” I think we all want is Target. How many of us drive to Ventura once a month just to shop there, wasting gas, spending our $ outside of SB county.

  2. NANCY says:

    P.S. I make it a point not to “HATE” anything!

  3. John says:

    I wanted the Cheesecake Factory to open where Stateside used to be. Would be a perfect location for them.

  4. Chris says:

    I prefer restaurants like Woody’s, Los Arroyos, Pollofino, La Carreta, Roy’s…

  5. Nadya Penoff says:

    No more chain restaurants…let’s support our local restaurants and keep the money in SB and help our neighbors as well.

  6. Elena says:

    It’s good to have a balance of both. Not everyone can afford going to C’a Dario or Opal. I’m looking forward to the new Panera Bread as I’m always looking for a real bakery. I wouldn’t mind a true Korean BBQ restaurant.

    • Mitch says:

      Panera (and Target & Ikea). Everything else I could care less about. I like local places, but chains are gonna thrive regardless, so why not have some good ones here? (Ok, I could go for an Olive Garden – I don’t go to the italian places here, too expensive and I never know which ones are consistently good).

  7. SBtaste says:

    The uniqueness of the food that a restaurant makes is what should be important. That said, what is the point of having many restaurants with similar menus (i.e. mexican)? Now if they focused on particular regions or dishes that would trully make it more local

  8. Shayna says:

    It would be fantastic to have an Umami Burger open up in Santa Barbara.

  9. Justin says:

    I’d love to see the long-predicted Islands and a Panera Bread finally make it to town, perhaps even a BJ’s. Sometimes I prefer to have predictable, mainstream food as opposed to the boutique type menus our local institutions provide.

  10. NANCY says:

    Panera Bread is my absolute favorite, but I did not mention it before as I read in your column that they are opening next to La Cumbre Mall this spring. YEAH!! A great variety of homemade soups and delicious, well-priced sandwiches. As for being anti-chains, every good chain restaurant was once a single restaurant….a single restaurant that did things right and well enough to open another store!

  11. lemonjelly says:

    Most chains I do not like at all, but I wouldn’t mind so much if a Lee’s Sandwiches opened here, we have very little representation, if any at all, for Vietnamese sandwiches. They churn out very fresh crusty baguette too.

  12. tracey says:

    No to most chain restaurants. Corporate food is not what I want to eat. Local doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. I would like to see some food trucks as they can be a great way for wanna be restaurants to start out without having to pay crazy rent.

    Though I am intrigued by Panera, don’t they work (at least some of them) on a pure donation basis?

  13. James says:

    I moved to Santa Barbara from LA a few years back. I am very fascinated by the “chain” discussion. What is a chain? A chain is a once small business that has achieved some level of success, enough success to create a demand for more. Most entrepreneurs enter into business because they want to succeed, are passionate and want to GROW, right?
    Is the Habit a chain? How about The Natural Cafe? Holdren’s has three locations, is that a chain? Are those accepted because they are born from SB? With a “chain” restaurant you know what you are going to get, like it or not. I have been to many of the Best Of restaurants here in town and have received average, inconsistent food and questionable service. I love it here in Santa Barbara and I have had some amazing meals at local restaurants, but I remain open to chains, as well. I will support quality, ethical business with good intent, regardless of their designation. Bandera/Houstons, PF Changs, Target, top my list.

  14. Danny says:

    No way! Santa Barbara has great places eat. I agree with Tracy, just cause the restaurant is not a chain doesn’t mean in has to be expensive. As to John who said the old stateside would be a great place for cheesecake factory, has no clue about the restaurant business, there’s no parking!!! That’s why they would never open there(thankfully)

  15. roger says:

    it doesn’t matter anymore- I have been here since 1974, and almost all of old santa barbara is gone- all the stores are chains on state street- sure, bring them on -who cares anymore? most everybody here has only been here for a few years, from towns befouled by chains of all kinds- they will all be happy to see more of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Santa Barbara used to be immune, now infected!

  16. Rob says:

    As someone else already mentioned, its good to have a balance of both. Forget about Cheesecake Factory for a number of reasons, they’ve investigated SB a few times, but there’s not enough people in the immediate area to support their corporate mandates for restaurant locations. Panera has been looking here for a while and will be a great addition, especially to the upper State St area. Personally I’d LOVE to see a Houston’s here, but it probably won’t happen any time soon. PF Chang’s would also be good. Five Guys would also be awesome, but we already have the Habit & In N Out, so we’re not desperate for a good burger, but I highly recommend Five Guys to you if you get a chance. Non-food related all we’re missing is Target, why there are some out there that don’t want a Target here is a mystery to me. That big empty lot on Hollister across from the Hollister entrance to Camino Real is screaming to be developed into a Target. I know “develop” is a dirty word here in Santa Barbara, but sorry, that spot is perfect for Target. Honestly I don’t think we’re missing too much in SB.

  17. Mikey says:

    Bring back Red Robin!! And while I’m on the subject, add an Olive Garden and maybe even a BJ’s. All of you self rightous Santa Barbrans need to get over yourselves! There are still plenty of amazing local spots that serve amazing local food. I’m glad that they are here and I spend a lot of money in them but it would be nice to have something different that will be there in 6 months and add steady jobs to the local community.

  18. Ryan says:

    Hooters or Hard Rock… something that usually sells shirts with the cities name on it…

  19. Papa John says:

    I don’t disparage a restaurant just because it has earned the label “chain.” I can’t wait for Panera to open and I would love to hear more about the prospective Islands Restaurant.

  20. foodie says:

    NO NO NO!!!!! Keep the chains out of Santa Barbara and
    give the “little” guys a chance to succeed!! I know most of the chains come here because the independent restauranteur whose dream it is to open their first restaurant, cannot afford the steep rents out here, and instead of working to help them make it, we (not me) continue to go to those awful chains. Why> Because they’re cheaper??

    Mikey (above) say it would be nice to have something different that will be here in 6 months, but this is exactly the problem! FIrst, that he called those chains “something nice” in the first place, and second, if those chains go away and stop cropping up, the REAL “nice and something different” places would have a better chance to survive. Without the chains, you would be forced to try a local place.

  21. Mikey says:

    @ foodie…I didn’t call those chains “something nice” They are however in my opinion quality establishments that are consistant. Also, why would I want to be forced into many instances bad local choices. Let’s face we are not over run with Chains right now and there are plenty of local joints that are thriving. Try getting a table most nights at C’dario, Opal, Brophy Bros, Pascuccis or Arigato just to name a few …Good luck!! A few more quality non local choices are not going to crush the dream of the “little guy” What is going to crush them is as you said, is high rents and bad product. It is a free market out there, many have succeded here and continue to thrive despite the fact that there is an Elephant bar, Outback and Chilis!!!

    • bmcd says:

      Mikey: “C’dario, Opal, Brophy Bros, Pascuccis or Arigato” try getting a table? Its called a reservation! The reason you can’t get a table is that they have good food!! Anyone who says Ca Dario is expensive has not tried the food!!

      • Mikey says:

        bmcd, I know what a reservation is! You kind of helped prove my point that they are “local” and go figure they are doing just fine and will alway do well no matter who comes to town.

  22. Dianne says:

    I never, and I mean never, eat at a chain restaurant.

  23. Only if they hire local people and have good food with integrity. i.e. sustainable

  24. Emily says:

    Jerry’s Deli…or any deli. How is it that we have no real delis? Crazy.

  25. Becky says:

    Panera Bread or Urbane Cafe!!!

  26. Scott says:

    If we still had an Arby’s or Wienerschnitzel that would be cool. What would be even better would be an Texas De Brazil Churrascaria or Fugo De Chao. But what I would want most of all would be a Togo’s! WAY BETTER then Subway hands down.

  27. Mimi says:

    Although I love local restaurants, I have been wanting a Soup Plantation for years. I think they would make a killing in Goleta if they opened in close proximity to UCSB.

  28. Linda says:

    I prefer locally owned restaurants. would agree to having a TARGET here!!

  29. Glenn says:

    By locally owned someone in town owns that particular store of the chain store probably right? So what’s the difference? Also if a store does poorly or not isn’t that the way the market works? In N Out has not folded since its been here cause its popular. The Habit has added a store since In N Out opened and they are still here and popular too so I guess I just don’t get it. The Habit has expanded outside of SB too, should they not have? And if you despise a store, simple, just don’t go there! Its what this guide is all about, to see what is out there that is good or bad and inform others if you like it or don’t that hopefully might either make them change their ways if they are bad or if they don’t change their ways go out of business to open up the storefront for something better!

  30. Mission Nick says:

    The Natural Cafe is the only “chain” I dine at. Most chains I am aware of do not offer the type of food options I am looking for. For me, it is more about nutrition than anything. Has anyone seen the nutrition chart for The Cheesecake Factory? http://www.cheesecakefactorynutrition.com/restaurant-nutrition-chart.php ??? Primarily for my family and I, it boils down to the quality of the product used to make the meal. In my experience, chain restaurants source their food from giant GMO food distributors such as Cysco. That’s just not the type of crap I want to put in my body. So I pay a bit more, shop at Whole Foods & Lazy Acres and I skimp on other things like $300 jeans and other Santa Barbara must haves like $6 coffees, Ugg boots and luxury vacations abroad. Besides, I live in Santa Barbara. Besides having to work too many hours a week, we try to live each day like we’re on vacation. Sidenote: We are by no means rich and certainly have to live within a budget. We just tend to focus more on quality over quantity.

  31. Mission Nick says:

    Regarding Target, it can come or not, I won’t be shopping there. 95% of their crap is Made In China. Besides the products being covered in heavy metals and Bisphenol A (happy reproducing), they are made using slave labor. As I become more educated to the ongoing atrocities (20,000,000 forced abortions annually, mobile execution units with no due process – specifically to streamline organ harvesting, concentration camps for political dissidents, slave labor, etc.) I have began to express my disagreement with the US government’s love affair with China and all products made there. This is not a matter of being smug. This is just me making conscience consumer decisions based on facts. I vote with my feet, so to speak.

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