On June 22, 2020, I sadly broke the news that the South Coast was about to say goodbye to local dining icon Dutch Garden at 4203 State Street and three days later the eatery closed after 75 years in business, the most recent 40 years under the same ownership. Since that time the business was sold and proprietors Charlie Fredericks and brothers Matt and Daniel English have been working hard to bring it back. That’s no easy task when you have to bring infrastructure, that is four decades behind the times, up to code because Santa Barbara County rules dictate that grandfathering ends when a business changes hands.
Fast forward to October 2022 and I am happy to report that final inspection is scheduled for this week. I am told that if Dutch Garden passes the test they hope to open by the end of the month, with a possible target date of October 28th. They have resubmitted for final inspection five different times so of course the opening date might again be pushed back. No grand opening is planned. “We’re just going to flip the ‘closed’ sign over quietly one of these days,” says partner Matt English. “It should be about a week. We’ll let it virally spread. People are jonesing. We can’t wait.”
English tells me that they have been working hard to bring the place back much like it was before with a few modern additions. He showed me the dining room and at first glance the interior looks the same as it always has. “We had to redo everything including plumbing and electrical,” said English. “This is a new wall but we saved the old trim, touched it up, and put it back. We saved the tchotchkes and put new curtains up like the old ones. This is a dream come true. I am just excited and grateful that we have made it through. We have had a lot of support behind us.”
I am told Dutch Garden will have the same menu with a pickle plate and a charcuterie plate added. They will be only opening up for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for the first two or three weeks because they want to execute their operation really well. Lunch will be nearly identical to the way previous owner Ken Luetjen did it, but they will “play around” with the dinner menu a bit though it will still include German classics. Initially they are not going to offer to-go with GrubHub or UberEats so that they can focus on the diners who are coming in and make their experience the best they can. When dinner service becomes available it will likely start at 5 p.m. A limited menu will be available for the in-between hours and brunch is being considered.
Photo by The Restaurant Guy