Readers Andy, Jenn, and Chompee McGillicutty tell me that Soul Cal Smokehouse inside the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria Street has closed. Soul Cal opened in January of this year. Here is a message to patrons from owner Justin West:

Hello Everyone,

To those of you who answered the call in our last email, Thank You! The turnout of support from the core members of this email list is so amazing. I appreciate that you allow me to speak honestly and cook from my heart. You always have, so Thank You again for that.

I am writing today however, with unfortunate news… Carter and I have decided to close Soul Cal Smokehouse. Without going into detail, it’s just not making enough money and we are fresh out of capital to continue on. Sometimes as a professional in any industry you have to know when to walk away and regroup and this feels like the time. I guess there’s a reason that Santa Barbara doesn’t have (not one) REAL (underline) BBQ Restaurant… Those of you who came through know just how good it was and Man o Man those smoked meats were so damn good…

Ok, so.. What is next?! Well, I am not really sure yet. I have a couple ideas, neither of which involve another restaurant of my own. Both of which could be good for you from a knowledge and consumption stand point… More on that around the first of the year.

Thank You again for all of your support over the years. Thank you for celebrating your Birthday’s & Anniversaries with me. Thank you for inviting me into your home to cook for your family, for spending Holidays at my establishments…

For those of you who followed me from Julienne, to Wildwood, to Soul Cal, THANK YOU THE MOST!!! Your loyalty was unconditional and I want you to know It did not go unnoticed.

I look forward to cooking for you!! Please keep me in mind for dinner parties, small scale catering, cooking classes, farmers market strolls, consulting… This is the direction I intend on heading and I can’t wait to share more about that with you!!

Justin West

Justin West (left) and crew at the California Brew and BBQ Festival last month

This entry was posted in Restaurant News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Christine says:

    Good grief.

  2. Gary says:

    Very bummed about this — best BBQ in SB. I’m going to miss them.

  3. Hefe says:

    Is it that back corner of the market? Rents too high for that location? Seems likely.

  4. Susan Moe says:

    While it’s not good for any of us when a locally owned business shuts its doors, I do think it’s indicative of the changing awareness about the devastation animal agriculture has on our planet. I greatly appreciated the one vegan meat option offered. Perhaps your new business could be more environmentally friendly and cruelty free. The growing vegan community in SB would surely support your efforts. Best of luck!

  5. S says:

    Justin is an incredibly talented chef, my family has enjoyed his concepts. Don’t stop! He also gets it by offering kid friendly, affordable options. We need more of that in SB. The BBQ will be missed. Best of luck in the new year!

  6. Jason says:

    I heard a rumor they upped their rent to 10k a month, which seems impossible for a small stand like that to support. Such a shame the landlord keeps driving businesses out. I’m amazed any business would try to get started in there at this point.

    • Chad Page says:

      That’s nuts. Worse, the high rent raises prices, which means they’re less likely to sell enough food to cover it… ack.

      • Sbmizzou says:

        There is a lot of foot traffic at PM.. The problem is competition. The BBQ place just couldn’t compete with Corizon or the noodle place. Very few places can comptete with those two places. I had their BBQ and it was underwhelming. You needed sauce on top to ad flavor. They seem like nice guys, wish them the best.

  7. Rex Of SB says:

    This is TERRIBLE news! We finally get a first-rate barbecue place and then THIS happens. The “Public Market” has racked up another kill. I do believe the location is cursed. Too bad they can’t just shut it down altogether and bring Vons back to the site.

    Jason & Co., we will miss you.

    • spank13 says:


      Agreed it is a bummer. If you get a chance, Nick Priedite does the best BBQ pop ups in town… really good stuff. A bit on the higher end price wise than what you may want to digest, but he really REALLY knows what he is doing.

  8. Mikey says:

    I have been saying it for years and years. Woody’s, worst BBQ in Santa Barbara and best in Santa Barbara.

    I tried Soul Cal, it was good…too fancy schmancy for me, same with the one on Haley, good but not BBQ, they didn’t even have Beef ribs. BBQ is Beef ribs and Brisket (ok, Pork ribs too, but Beef for me), when you don’t have Beef ribs I am not coming back.

    BBQ is simple down to earth food and they tried to fancy it up, you fancy up a Filet or Ribeye, not BBQ

  9. Annie Clare says:

    My favorite was Julienne. Always creative, well prepared and presented. A special dining experience.
    Good luck. I’ll be interested to follow what’s next.

  10. I have many fond memories of all three locations. Julienne was a special place for a date nite meal where the dishes were solid and creative. Wildwood and Soul Cal were my Saturday treat to myself after a local motorcycle ride. Excellent BBQ and cold beer. Your team and your food will be missed, it really sucks that Santa Barbara has no solid BBQ at all. Thanks for the great BBQ and years of great service. Come to Carpinteria, there is a restaurant space open there and with the campground nearby, the take out opportunity is a sure thing!

  11. itsnotbob says:

    This makes me sad. I know Justin & Jason had opened a second venue in the Public Market (“Locale” maybe?) which did the food for the Garden. I imagine that’s gone as well. Thanks, Marge.

  12. bobnotbob says:

    Wow, just ate there for the first time a couple of weeks ago while up from L.A. for the Bob Dylan concert. Was THRILLED to have found an awesome BBQ place — this is terrible news. Good luck to the guys on their next endeavor (hint, hint: We can always use one more great BBQ place in L.A.!).

  13. socalcitizen says:

    I never understood the cult around this guy and the average food he cooks up.

  14. Claudia Ward says:

    I LOVED Julienne, but never liked the smoked BBQ style, I wish Julienne would come back

    • Lucie says:

      Julienne was one of a handful of restaurants in SB I have loved in the 25 years we have lived here. I never checked out Justin’s later concepts (shame on me), probably because I remained in mourning. We’ll be leaving SB upon retirement. Other cities can sustain good restaurants. Weather isn’t everything!

  15. Barbara Y says:

    I am SO BUMMED! Best BBQ in Santa Barbara. Always had a bit of a service issue, but the food was worth it anyways! Hoping you open again in a better location!

  16. Gary Sudder says:

    Bummed too. It was an amazing place, great grub, they added a bit too much garlic had some flatulence, comes with the territory with good bbq!