Fall restaurant openings at the Harbor

Southern California restaurateur Aaron Petersen – owner / operator of Solvang, California’s CHOMP | Burgers, Fries, Shakes; brekkies by CHOMP; and The Coffee House by CHOMP – will launch two new restaurant and bar establishments in early-fall 2020, SALTY at the Beach and CHOMP on the Rocks. The two new waterfront dining and drinking concepts, located on Santa Barbara Harbor, bring together a group of Santa Barbara County families for what will be family-friendly culinary and cocktail experiences with a show-stopping seaside setting.

The debut of SALTY at the Beach, expected to be mid- to late-September 2020, will be followed by the opening of CHOMP on the Rocks in October. The businesses represent Petersen’s first restaurant foray into the City of Santa Barbara, adding to his portfolio of eateries in Santa Ynez Valley wine country. The two new harbor-front businesses will occupy the former “Endless Summer Bar Café” (upstairs) and “Chuck’s Waterfront Grill” spaces (downstairs), in the Waterfront Center Building – the historic Naval Reserve Armory building, which is also home to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

Both of the new hospitality businesses will boast an expansive outdoor footprint, inherent in the space location(s). The upper-deck SALTY at the Beach, with a wall of waterfront windows all opening to the shoreline air, will host approximately 100 guests on two outdoor patios, complete with seven flat-screen TVs both outdoors and “in”. CHOMP on the Rocks will have alfresco seating for another 50 guests on its lower-level, harbor-front patio. All COVID-19 safety and sanitation measures will be in place upon opening, and indoor dining will resume once allowed as per Santa Barbara County guidelines.

The new full-service restaurants and bars will launch with daily lunch and dinner service, with plans in place for weekend brunch service in 2021. Locals and Santa Barbara tourists will be able to take advantage of daily Happy Hour deals at both establishments plus a late-night Happy Hour upstairs, at SALTY at the Beach.

SALTY at the Beach dockside diners and boat drinks enthusiasts should expect “stellar coastal views and swell times” in an “upscale beach” setting, with the restaurant and bar focusing on California-style tavern cuisine with an award-winning wine list, and breezy cocktails to include the previous-fan-favorite “Endless Summer Mai Tai”. SALTY at the Beach is also retaining some of the beloved Endless Summer Bar Café staff.

Menu items at SALTY at the Beach will range from snacks to big plates, featuring fun takes on time-tested dishes such as a deviled egg trio; popcorn rock shrimp with house-made rémoulade; warm pretzel bites with sea salt, smoked gouda and cheddar sauce, and a spicy honey mustard; “Birria-style” chicken nachos; the restaurant’s rendition of a French dip sandwich; and a rock shrimp po’ boy.

Downstairs at CHOMP on the Rocks, family-friendly, traditional crowd-pleasers like dressed up burgers and Nathan’s® Famous hot dogs will join simple menu sections such as “Old School” sandwiches (patty and tuna melts, a corned beef Reuben, hot pastrami) and “Fish” (fish tacos, crab cake salad, a Pacific lobster wrap with avocado and chipotle sauce, nestled in a tortilla), with shareable sides along the lines of onion rings and chili cheese fries. Salads, soups and specials will also appear on the menu, with special items like pulled pork nachos and a Central Coast requisite, tri-tip sandwich. Savory dishes will be accompanied by CHOMP’s signature “ice creamery” sweets – handmade shakes, malts, floats, sundaes, and an old fashioned banana split – all served in a retro-inspired, modern take on a diner with clean lines, black and white tiles, red leather booths and stool-tops, with additional seating at the shiny aluminum counter.

Locally-minded cuisine comprised of locally-sourced ingredients and beverages, aligns with the local set of families behind the new restaurants. Petersen is joined in the new ventures by Solvang residents Max and Laura Hanberg, who own the 55-year old retail icon, Solvang Shoe Store, as well as long-time Santa Ynez Valley residents Ken and Ronna Sorenson, owners of 31-year old business, Sorenson & Associates. Also joining the team is Southern California native Scott Gold, with a decades-long career in the hospitality industry, and Gold’s family, as well as Petersen’s daughter and son-in-law, both Navy Lieutenants stationed in San Diego.

“The history of this building definitely won me over, with its ties to Santa Barbara’s place in naval history,” added Aaron Petersen, co-owner of the two new harbor-front restaurants and bars, SALTY at the Beach and CHOMP on the Rocks, referring to the Waterfront Center Building’s World War II-era roots in what would be a lengthy, and crucial, seafaring military role for California’s Central Coast.

Petersen, who opened his three CHOMP family Solvang businesses between 2013 and 2019, is also co-owner with his siblings of Solvang’s Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2021.

SALTY at the Beach and CHOMP on the Rocks will eventually feature special weekly promos such as “Industry Night”, “Locals Night”, and/or “Fisherman’s Night”. Both spaces will, also eventually, be available for private or corporate events and catering, in part or in whole, including A/V capabilities and afore-mentioned flat-screen TVs, with customizable, personalized menus and dedicated event staff.

SALTY at the Beach and CHOMP on the Rocks will accept walk-ins only, with reservations for parties of six or more, by phone. The restaurant phone numbers will be published prior to opening.

SALTY at the Beach (upper deck) and CHOMP on the Rocks (lower level) are located at 113 Harbor Way, Suite 180, Santa Barbara, CA 93109 (adjacent to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum). Both establishments’ initial opening hours will be Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM (initial opening hours subject to change).

Visit saltyatthebeach.com and chompontherocks.com.


HARBORMASTER: Aaron Petersen, co-owner of SALTY at the Beach and Chomp on the Rocks coming soon to the Santa Barbara Harbor. Photos by Matt Dayka

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