The difference between bad and good is the same as the difference between good and great. Last week my wife and I dined at a great restaurant named bouchon, 9 W. Victoria Street and enjoyed the duck, black cod, beet salad, and lava cake – all amazing. We were lucky enough to get a table in bouchon’s fabulous new patio which proprietor Mitchell Sjerven describes below:

We all know change can be hard but, sometimes, it can be good.

I was initially very skeptical that the ficus trees in front of bouchon truly had to be removed.  I fought to keep them knowing mature trees are increasingly rare in downtown Santa Barbara’s commercial district and their beauty was a huge part of my decision originally to lease the space.  But once they were out there was no doubt whatsoever that their root systems were wreaking havoc on the underground utilities.  Gas, electric and water have all been rerouted now, much to my relief, and no longer run under my patio.  Further, my sadness over the loss of our beautiful urban greenscape is slowly being replaced both by new plantings as well as the optimism that our guests will enjoy the new environment just as much, if not more, that the previous one.

Locals, locals, locals.

It was great to work with so many local vendors getting it back up and running in just two months—especially with the wonderful weather we’ve had.  My architect Amy Taylor and contractors Libby & Phil Easterday did a fantastic job understanding that whatever we did had to be spectacular, as the garden setting has always been the hallmark of bouchon’s dining ambience.  I particularly enjoyed the running commentary from daily passers-by, naturally curious as to the final outcome, and am especially grateful for our fabulous locals who were so kind with their encouraging words as the new structure slowly sprouted up from the flagstone. This July will mark 17 years for bouchon and I am happy to have reinvested in a promising future.

Timing, as they say, is everything.

Looking back to 1998, when I founded bouchon, Victoria Court was badly in need of a facelift, the Granada was shuttered, the Von’s across the street was in obvious decline making our claim of being ‘in the Historic Arts District’ tenuous as best.  Though at times maddening from a construction noise and traffic impact perspective, in the end we essentially enjoy an entirely new block on West Victoria Street.  In the past year alone we’ve witnessed two major projects— the beautifully renovated New Vic springing into life as the Ensemble Theatre Company’s new home and Marge Cafarelli’s amazing Santa Barbara Public Market opening this week— anchor our West End.  We’ve also enjoyed seeing the success of our next door neighbor Olio e Limone, recently opening its Olio Crudo Bar, and Arlington Tavern adding sidewalk seating next to the New Vic.  What a difference 16 years can make!


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  1. lemonjelly says:

    The new design looks great and will get even better as the plantings establish more. It’s true, Ficus pumila will literally pull off pieces of the structure it’s attached to when you try to pull it off. The long run damage is not worth it!

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