My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. In 2019 there were 47 openings and 35 closings. The most openings were in April and September (tied with 6) while the most closings were in October (7).
OPENINGS: American (8), Chinese (6), Mexican (6), Japanese (5), Coffee (4), Bakery (2), Californian (2), Dessert (2), Indian (2), Italian (2), BBQ (1), Burger (1), Caribbean (1), Cuban (1), Deli (1), Hot Dog (1), Korean (1), Peruvian (1), and Vegetarian (1).
CLOSINGS: American (8), Chinese (5), Pizza (5), Mexican (4), Coffee (2), Deli (2), Bakery (1), BBQ (1), Dessert (1), French (1), German (1), Italian (1), Japanese (1), Steakhouse (1), and Thai (1).
FLASH IN THE PAN: Eateries that both opened and closed in 2019: Alito’s, 509 State Street (4 months) and Soul Cal Smokehouse, 38 West Victoria Street (10 months)
ON THE MOVE: Yume Sushi moved from 428 Chapala Street to 1134 Chapala Street and Ike’s Love & Sandwiches switched addresses from 6530 Seville Road in Isla Vista to 1936 State Street.
FALLEN ICONS: We lost three long-time restaurants (20+ years in business): Ming Dynasty, 290 Storke Rd., Goleta; Senor Frogs, 892 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; and Red Pepper Restaurant, 282 Orange Ave., Goleta. Rumors abound that Red Pepper might reopen.
ALWAYS REMEMBERED: The Palace Grill‘s popular General Manager and always-smiling face at the front door Errol E. Williams died at age 67 in June after a very brief battle with cancer, Williams had been with the eatery for decades. The beloved and talented chef James Sly had a stroke in August and passed away at age 67. Sly, a Santa Barbara icon, operated with his wife Annie, Sly’s restaurant in Carpinteria from 2008 to 2018. Before that Sly was a chef at the El Encanto and the founding chef at Lucky’s in Montecito.
MOST READ STORIES: Based on the analytics from The Restaurant Guy blog at SantaBarbara.com, here are the top-ten most read stories of the year:
- “Impossible Burger Debuts At Islands Restaurant“
- “La Cocina Mexican Restaurant Opens Downtown“
- “Vicenta’s Closes“
- “Bough-Ing Out?“
- “The ’80s Called. They Want Their Restaurants Back“
- “Pizza Mizza Is Now Mizza Pizza“
- “Two New Mesa Burgers?“
- “The Space Formerly Known As Outback Update“
- “Soul Cal Smokehouse Closes“
- “Flor De Maiz Brings Oaxacan Cuisine To The Waterfront“
MOST TALKED ABOUT STORIES: Based on the number of comments in The Restaurant Guy blog, the top-five most talked about stories in 2019 were:
- “Bough-Ing Out?” – A reader said that their reservations were canceled suddenly, just hours before dinner, at The Silver Bough restaurant inside the Montecito Inn which was the highest price restaurant in town at $550 per person.
- “Soul Cal Smokehouse Closes” – Chef Justin West’s BBQ spot in the SB Public Market ended a 10 month run.
- “Joie Di Vino Coming To State” – A single sentence about a alcohol permit application sign appearing at 532 State Street (formerly Zia Café) resulted in a cascade of comments, mostly about the name of the incoming business.
- “Vicenta’s Closes” – Discussions focused on this location in Camino Real Marketplace being cursed and popular sister restaurant Los Agaves.
- “Downsizing In Montecito” – The Montecito Inn again struck a nerve as Chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee closed The Monarch and The Silver Bough and retained Sushi|Bar.