My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. Undoubtedly this was a difficult year for local restaurants because of policies enacted in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Many eateries had to switch from indoor dining to to-go only with just a few days notice.
A RECORD YEAR: In 2021 there were 30 openings and 26 closings. The most openings were in October (7) while the most closings were in May and January (5). 2021 was a record year, by a large margin, for fewest openings (30) in the 15 years that I have been keeping dining statistics. The previous fewest openings was 38 which occurred in 2020 and 2007. 2021 was also a record year for fewest closings (26). 2021 broke the fewest closings record set in 2009 when just 30 eateries said goodbye to the South Coast.
OPENINGS: 4 Eggs & Pizza, Alessia Patisserie & Cafe, Barb’s Pies, Caje, Carp Kitchen and Grocery, Costa Kitchen & Bar at Mar Monte Hotel, Courthouse Tavern, Dune Coffee Roasters, Fatte’s Pizza, Goodland Dining, Jeannine’s Bakery, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Kyle’s Chicken House, Mr B Restaurant & Cafe, Old Town Coffee, Pueblo Pollo, Rascal’s, Red Pepper, Reunion Kitchen, SB Biergarten, Secret Bao, South Coast Deli, Tap Thai, The Good Plow, Timbers Roadhouse, Tondi Gelato, Wingman Rodeo, Wingstop, Wingstop, and Zio and Sweet Italian Desserts.
CLOSINGS: Alphies Restaurant, Barb’s Pies, Beachside Bar Cafe, Cava Restaurant & Bar, Corazon Cocina, Crazy Jim’s Tacos y Mas, Domino’s, Dumpling King, El Pollo Loco, Good Cup, Itsuki Restaurant, Little Alex’s, Malibu Farm at Miramar, Mollie’s, New Si Chuan Garden, Noemi Pizza Romana, Panera Bread, South Coast Deli, Starbucks, Subway, Taqueria El Pastorcito, The Palms, Tyger Tyger, Vegan GreenGO, Woody’s BBQ, and Yanni’s at Mackenzie Market.
FALLEN ICONS: We lost 7 restaurants that have been serving locals for more than 25 years: The Palms (109 years), Alphie’s (41 years), Woody’s BBQ (39 years), Beachside Bar-Cafe (36 years), Little Alex’s (32 years), Yanni’s Greek Deli (31 years), Cava (25 years).
MOST READ STORIES: Based on the analytics from The Restaurant Guy blog at SantaBarbara.com, here are the top-ten most read food news stories of the year:
#1: “Timbers Roadhouse and Whiskey Joe’s open in Goleta” in October
#2: “The Palms update” in May
#3: “Cava in Montecito closing after 25 years in business” in September
#4: “Courthouse Tavern opening in June” in May
#5: “Timbers Roadhouse coming to Goleta” in June
#6: “New Jeannine’s Bakery on the waterfront opens Friday” in July
#7: “Jeannine’s Bakery opening at the foot of Stearns Wharf” in June
#8: “SB Biergarten coming to the Funk Zone” in February
#9: “Noemi Pizza Romana closes permanently” in January
#10: “Little Alex’s to close after 32 years in business” in October