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 many local restaurants as we emerge from the COVID-19 epidemic but some eateries came back with a bang like the days of yesteryear were just a bad dream.

BOOM TIMES: I started covering the local restaurant scene in 1994 with the launch of the SantaBarbara.com Restaurant Guide but I only started keeping track of restaurant statistics when this column debuted 15 years ago, so that’s how far back my records go. Though 2021 saw the lowest number of restaurant openings on record, 2022 experienced a big comeback and nearly achieved the highest number of openings on record. In 2022 there were 52 openings (record high is 54) and 35 closings (record low is 30).

WELCOME BACK: Two huge reopenings occurred on the South Coast this year: Dutch Garden restaurant, an icon for more than 75 years, opened under new ownership and with a huge remodel. Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant, a favorite in Goleta since 1958, reopened after experiencing a kitchen fire in 2020.

BIG MOVES: South Coast institution Fresco Cafe moved from their longtime home in Five Points Shopping Center to 23 East Canon Perdido Street downtown. Little Alex’s Cantina, formerly of Montecito, will be taking over their now-vacant uptown spot. Saigon, also formerly in Five Points, moved to 721 Chapala Street where it now shares space with their sister eatery Sachi Ramen. Popular Black Sheep restaurant moved from longtime home at 28 East Ortega Street to 18 East Cota Street while giving their menu a French makeover. Saturday Farmers’ Market announced plans to move from the Cota Street parking lot (where a new Santa Barbara police station will be built) to Carrillo Street between Anacapa and Chapala and crossing with State Street.

FALLEN ICONS: Marty’s Pizza, a local icon since 1984, closed because its building had to be demolished as part of a bridge replacement project. Goleta Coffee Company closed after 25 years in business. Kai Sushi Shabu-Shabu downtown said goodbye after the serving the South Coast for decades.

FLASH IN THE PAN: Restaurants that both opened and closed in 2022 include Beans BBQ (6 months, catering is still alive and well) and Texas Tacos (7 months)

RESTAURANT OPENINGS: December: Black Sheep, Corazon Comedor, Elena’s Kitchen, Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant (reopened), Saint Remy (inside Marriott), We Want The Funk; November: Brass Bird Coffee, Caya Restaurant, IHOP Goleta, Jersey Mike’s Subs, L’antica Pizzeria da Michele, Mattei’s Tavern, Oat Bakery; October: Augie’s Tequila, Fresco Café downtown, Kyle’s Taproom, Thai Bistro; September: Campo del Sol, Checo’s, Saigon; August: Mokutan; July: AMA Sushi (inside Miramar), Anchor Rose, Lao Thai Restaurant, Rare Society, Santa Barbara Food Connection, Sweetie’s Ice Cream Shop, Vons Chicken (reopened); June: Lighthouse Coffee, Taza Mediterranean Street Kitchen; May: Carp Moon Café, Finch & Fork (reopened), Hummus Republic, Mangione’s Italian Ice, Mariscos, Rodeo Room Whiskey Lounge; April: Casa Comal, Hook & Press Donuts, Lighthouse Coffee, Local, Matty’s Hot Chicken, Montecito Deli (reopened), Saint Bibiana Pizzeria, Sazon Latino, Zocalo; March: Beans BBQ (now closed); Goodland BBQ, Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar (reopened), Shalhoob’s at the Market, Wingman Rodeo, 235 West Montecito St.; February: Bedda Mia, Little Heart Cafecito, Soul Bites, Starbucks De la Vina; January: Broad Street Oyster Company, El Patio Evening, Texas Tacos (now closed)

RESTAURANT CLOSINGS: November: Cold Stone Creamery, Here’s the Scoop, The Outpost; October: Black Sheep (moved to Cota St.); Cafe 154; September: Cafe Stella, Fresco Café (moved to Canon Perdido St.) Mesa Burger, Saigon 3987 State (moved to Chapala St.), Tap Thai Cuisine; August: Hustle & Grind Coffee, IHOP Calle Real (moved to Hollister Ave.); Kyle’s Chicken House, Marty’s Pizza (say it ain’t so!), ParadICE Shave Ice, Pizza My Heart, Seven Bar & Kitchen; July: Kai Sushi, McDonald’s 1213 State, Texas Tacos; May: Daniel’s Mexican Bakery, La Salsa; April: Rockin’ Yogurt, March: Little Kitchen; February: Brasil Arts Cafe, Chomp on the Rocks, Goleta Coffee Company, Modern Times Beer; January: Embermill, JJ’s Diner, Juice N Things, Open, Phoevermore, Rockin’ Yogurt, Saigon 1230 State, Su Casa Fresh Mexican Grill, Tea Tea IV, Vons Chicken (reopened in July)

MOST READ STORIES: Based on the analytics from The Restaurant Guy blog at SantaBarbara.com, here are the top-ten most read news stories of the year:
#1: “Dutch Garden update”
#2: “Mariscos Tita’s Mexican seafood coming to Old Town Goleta”
#3: “Rodeo Room whiskey lounge opens next week”
#4: “Shalhoob’s Coming to Noleta”
#5: “Goodland BBQ coming to Goleta”
#6: “Goodland BBQ opens in Old Town Goleta”
#7: “Vons Chicken closes”
#8: “Montesano buys Montecito Deli, opening Oye Vey Maria’s next door”
#9: “Thomas W. Dickson 1929-2022”
#10: “Broad Street Oyster Company coming to downtown”

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