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

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  1. Kay Lee says:

    There are some comments posted on Edhat regarding this news in case one wishes to join the fray.

  2. . says:

    i think they will need to “lighten” up the place to make it less formal, to bring in a light hearted crowd like the harbor

  3. Ted says:

    Good decision! Bring back cheap happy hour beers and such, and we’ll be good to go.

  4. Bob says:

    Best news on the restaurant front since The Pickle Room opened back up.

  5. Bob says:

    How sad that Maggie permanently downgraded that location by covering the open air patio. It’s a loss for Santa Barbara, the land of great weather.

    • Scott S says:

      I miss State & A, especially the price point & patio. Although Maggies was a disappointment, I don’t think the patio was too much a downgrade. At least not as bad as the white vinyl tent now parked in La Arcada. I used to love going to the Turtle Pond with our kids, but now I just walk by La Arcada. That tent destroyed the whole look, feel and charm that La Arcada once had…..I’ll go back to the ol’ State & A when Brophy’s re-opens, but I won’t go back to La Arcada.

  6. Sam Tababa says:

    Have to agree with Bob. Let Maggies be a lesson to anyone without sizable restaurant experience attempting to open up a fine dining establishment. There is almost no surer way to lose a fortune. What;s that old saying? The surest way to make a small fortune in the restaurant business is to start with a large one…or something like that.

    Its a true tragedy that in a town with such great weather that we have so few outdoor dining areas. Whether its the myopia of the planning dept, the city counsel or the the greed of the property owners who need as much rent-able sq footage as possible, its a crime. And to learn that what was once a simple patio is now a concrete walled area and cannot be converted back… well that just sucks. Booo!

    But I, like many look forward to a place where a few drinks and a meal doesnt have to set you back $100 and require etiquette or a deep palette. Bring on the simple food, the laid back atmosphere and a varied but popular menu and you’ll have a winner. State and A was such a dirt hole, the one good thing about this whole debacle was that it finally got cleaned!

    Good luck! I

  7. k says:

    skylights might be good on patio and cut cost on electric,

  8. k says:

    sky lights on patio? or sun tubes

  9. HiAll says:


  10. Gary says:

    Congratulations to the Bennett family for securing a historical corner. We are happy for your family, the landlord (who has always been more than fare with the lease) and the community. I am confident that you will create a fantastic restaurant for Santa Barbara to enjoy.

    Wishing you much success,

    Gary Lynd
    Former owner State & A

  11. dos passos says:

    Yea! More mediocrity

  12. Rob says:

    I’d like to be the first to invite that Victorian Snob to happy hour there when it opens.

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