Local restaurateur Aaron Petersen – owner / operator of Solvang’s CHOMP | Burgers, Fries, Shakes, brekkies by CHOMP, and The Coffee House by CHOMP – has opened the second of his two new food and beverage establishments on Santa Barbara Harbor, CHOMP on the Rocks (chompontherocks.com). The opening of CHOMP on the Rocks follows the mid-September launch of SALTY at the Beach (saltyatthebeach.com), a sister waterfront dining and drinking concept, located above CHOMP on the Rocks. The restaurant and bar duo brings together a group of Santa Barbara County families for family-friendly culinary and cocktail experiences with show-stopping seaside settings.
The October 15 debut of CHOMP on the Rocks follows the SALTY at the Beach opening by just four weeks. The two businesses represent Petersen’s first restaurant presence in the City of Santa Barbara, adding to his portfolio of eateries in Santa Ynez Valley wine country. The new harbor-front businesses 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. 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.
The new Santa Barbara hospitality business boass an expansive outdoor footprint, including alfresco seating for another 50 guests on its lower-level, harbor-front patio. All COVID-19 safety and sanitation measures are in place at both locations, and limited indoor dining is now available as per Santa Barbara County guidelines. The restaurant features 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.
The menus at CHOMP on the Rocks highlight family-friendly, traditional crowd-pleasers like dressed up burgers and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, as well as 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). Shareable sides along the lines of onion rings and chili cheese fries accompany salads, soups and specials, with special items like pulled pork nachos and a Central Coast requisite tri-tip sandwich.
CHOMP on the Rocks burgers, the mainstay of the CHOMP restaurant menus, include fan-favorite options like the ‘Hula Hula” (with grilled pineapple, Swiss cheese, Teriyaki, bacon) and the “Wrangler” (with hickory BBQ sauce and double bacon, topped with onion rings), plus a special “Chompasaurus Burger” anchored by a half-pound American Kobe beef patty. Vegetarian and vegan options are also present, with a hand-packed veggie burger and a vegan plant-based burger. The locally-sourced menus come to light in specific items, like a Firestone 805 Brat sandwich, made with a pork/beef Firestone Walker Brewing Company “805” beer bratwurst.
Savory dishes join 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.
The locally-minded cuisine at both Santa Barbara restaurants aligns with the local set of families behind the new businesses. Petersen is joined in the 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.
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 aforementioned flat-screen TVs, with customizable, personalized menus and dedicated event staff.
CHOMP on the Rocks currently accept walk-ins, only. To reach the restaurants directly, call 805-770-5038. Initial opening hours are Sunday through Saturday, 11:30 AM to 8:00 PM (initial opening hours and menus subject to change).