My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. In 2018 there were 51 openings and 43 closings. The most openings were in June and October (tied with 8) while the most closings were in September (8).
OPENINGS: American (13), Dessert (5), Mexican (5), Coffee (4), Italian (4), Pizza (4), Chinese (3), Japanese (3), Seafood (2), Thai (2), Bakery (1), BBQ (1), Deli (1), Indian (1), Mediterranean (1), and Vegetarian (1)
CLOSINGS: American (17), Italian (4), Mexican (4), Chinese (2), Coffee (2), Japanese (2), Mediterranean (2), Pizza (2), Bakery (1), Dessert (1), Korean (1), Market (1), Seafood (1), Smoothie (1), and Spanish (1)
FLASH IN THE PAN: Every year since I started tracking restaurant statistics in 2007 I gather a list of restaurants that both opened and closed in the same year. For the first time last year, every restaurant that opened stayed open all year. Unfortunately that good luck was not repeated this year. Restaurants that both opened and closed in 2018 are Locavore Kitchen (1 month), Wildwood Museum Café (2 months), Frankland’s Crab & Co. (4 months), and Grilled Cheese Truck (4 months). Fortunately the owners of Frankland’s Crab & Co. quickly reopened with a new concept known as Chapman’s Martini Bar.
FALLEN ICONS: We lost several long-time food venues: Santa Barbara Brewing Company, East Beach Grill, Empress Palace, Max’s, Pizza Mizza, Sly’s, Vineyard House Restaurant in Santa Ynez, Vons in La Cumbre Plaza, and Yen Ching Restaurant.
FLOOD FOR THOUGHT: The tragic Montecito flood and debris flow resulted in two dozen residents being killed and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed. The disaster also resulted in the closure of every restaurant in the Montecito area for months, which was especially difficult for business owners considering that rent still had to be paid. In most cases workers stopped getting paid though I hear that Ty Warner kept income flowing for employees of his Montecito resort properties for another 6 months. This all happened while restaurants and other businesses across the South Coast were suffering from a dramatic slow down caused by the 2017 Thomas Fire which kept tourists away and locals at home. The Bella Vista restaurant at the Biltmore had been closed for a month as the seaside resort cleaned up ash from the fire and reopened on January 8th. Less than 24 hours later the flood devastated Montecito, directly impacting the Biltmore, San Ysidro Ranch, and several eateries at the east end of Coast Village Road.