Little Alex’s to close after 32 years in business

Little Alex’s Mexican restaurant, a Montecito institution since 1989 at 1024 Coast Village Road, is closing in late November. I spoke with a representative and was told that their landlord, Montecito Country Mart, did not renew their lease. The area where Little Alex’s is located, adjacent to Vons (soon to be Pavilions), was built in the 1960s. In 2009 J.S. Rosenfield & Co purchased a 30-year ground lease for the 40,000-square-foot Coast Village Road Shopping Center from Pacific Capital Bank. Owner Jim Rosenfield rebranded the property as Montecito Country Mart, trying to establish a luxury market similar to the Brentwood Country Mart he created in Santa Monica. J.S. Rosenfield & Co. is a privately-held real estate company with a a portfolio of retail and mixed-use properties in Los Angeles County, Montecito, and Marin County.

Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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17 Responses to Little Alex’s to close after 32 years in business

  1. Su says:

    Succinctly, oh, crap. especially aly on Country Mart. Little Alex, we hope you will relocact to Carp.

  2. Lisa says:

    We love little Alex’s!! It’s the epitome of Family, friendship and togetherness. Very saddening that the lease was not renewed, This isn’t just a restaurant that’s closing its the past of generations who have laughed and grabbed a quick delicious bite. ☹️ I’m pretty bummed.

  3. Peter says:

    This is very sad indeed. As I recall, the owner of the lease for the “strip mall” (I know that might be a tad harsh) that houses Little Alex’s has wanted to give them the boot ever since he took over the lease. He required them to complete costly repairs, such as new expensive, decorative tile, as well as staffing a position to offer handmade tortillas during open hours. The longtime owners were very hardworking and served consistently good food at reasonable prices.

    It will no doubt be turned into a trendy and overpriced L.A. eatery.

    For this born and raised Cito Rat, it’s the last of the “non-yupp-ified” casual dining joints left in the area.

  4. Joe says:

    I echo the above comments and want to share my two cents. My wife and I ordered takeout – always chicken enchiladas a la carte with a side of beans, about once a week. We liked their spicy salsas too Great food at bargain prices. I hope they relocate somewhere.

  5. Solanaceae says:

    Great Mom and Pop restaurant. Rosenfield clearly thinks the working-folk who tend to all those estates should not have an affordable place to eat among his establishments.

  6. Ted says:

    Keep Brentwood 100 miles away.

  7. Hefe says:

    An amazing run of 32 years. Hopefully they have planned for the end of lease term and will either be moving the restaurant or happily retiring.

    I find it unfair the criticism of property owners making legal and ethical decisions with their business. .

    If I owned a building and Starbucks expressed interest in a spot at twice the rent I would make a deal for when the current tenants lease is up. And so would all of you.

    It’s no different than telling the restaurant owner they can’t move or close their business at the end of a lease term.

    • El Guapo says:

      Yeah nobody knows the real details behind the scenes, but in this town it’s much easier to pile on the landlord. At the end of the lease, if there are no options for the tenant to extend, the landlord has every right to re-tenant the space with whomever they want, just like the tenant has every right to move out at the end of the lease to something bigger or smaller, in a different location, whatever.

    • Bee says:

      I’m guessing you are one of those outside influencers coming into town and gentrifying the town in order to put a few extra bucks in your pocket, and ruining our town. I’ve watched what has happened to Venice in the last 20 years and would hate for that to happen to SB and Montecito #supportlocalbusinesses

      • El Guapo says:

        I’m guessing you’re one of those people who assumes to know everything about someone based off one post, when really you know jack s**t about them.

    • Brendan says:

      You say “and so would all of you” but I’d hope that wouldn’t be true of me.

      What you describe is exactly the problem: it is people trying to make as much money as they possibly can at every opportunity. If the person who owns the space is already making enough to live comfortably (and I’d bet they are), then why should they accept an offer for twice the rent?

      If they actually WANT a different tenant (e.g., because they think the other place makes better food) then we get into taste differences. We can raise questions like whether property ownership should be kept local so that tenancy reflects local preferences. But that is another matter.

      But if it’s just a person who is already rich trying to make even more money? Then no, I don’t have sympathy. They have enough money. They shouldn’t get any more.

  8. Angela says:

    Has anyone started a petition to save it? If so, please post it on here!!

  9. Hefe says:

    Maybe the most absurd response I’ve seen on this blog.

    What if the tenant has 10 restaurants and is quite “rich”, and the LL a mom and pop struggling. Does the tenant have to stay at the end of the lease and pay more rent because they don’t need any more money?


  10. Gary Sudder says:

    Rosenfeld -another carpetbagger from LA – another hustler

    • debbie says:

      That’s exactly right!
      Who cares about the small, delicious, unique, hard working mom and pop restaurants?
      More chains and cheap, crappy, sterile food! Yes, that’s what we want! Really???
      And then go to the Farmers Market and pretend that you support local….or is it really just so you can show off your Tesla?
      Capitalism is great, but it can be done in an ethical, local AND profitable way!
      Keep it local and give local families a chance to make a living!

  11. Michael Diamant says:

    Knowing that my favorite Mexican eatery in Santa Barbara is closing is like losing a body part. Living just up the street on Summit Road, meant a great Mexican meal was just several blocks away. I moved out of the area and will now be returning, but it won’t be the same without this family owned/operated place. I’ll try to make it back for one more tostada salad with chipotle chicken and an order of chip and salsa before you close forever.

  12. Peter Ryan says:

    I think this has expanded from a discussion about a local restaurant to a discussion about Capitalism in general. Capitalism in general is about making as much money off your investments as possible. It’s perfectly legal; that’s how we do things in America. Ethics is a different question.