This just in from reader Kent: “Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton is closed. I heard from multiple sources that the restaurant is closed but am not sure about the hotel. I also heard a rumor that it will be torn down and stores and condos will be built there. The end of an icon.” I called the restaurant’s sister location in Santa Nella and they confirmed the closure after 100 years in business. They said that the property was sold and will be redeveloped and that an all-new Pea Soup Andersen’s will open in the future.
The famed California restaurant was founded in 1924 by Juliette and Anton Andersen, immigrants from Denmark and France, respectively. They settled in the Solvang area, today still known for its Danish influence, and opened Andersen’s Electrical Cafe for travelers between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The most popular dish was Juliette’s French recipe for split pea soup. It quickly became their hallmark.
In 1928 the Andersens added a hotel and dining room to the cafe on their property. These changes shifted the focus of Pea Soup Andersen’s from being just a restaurant to a roadside attraction. With Buellton located along Highway 101, it made Pea Soup Andersen’s a convenient stop for travelers heading between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay.
The first of the famed roadside billboards for the eatery, featuring cartoon chefs Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee, went up in the 1930s. The ones near Buellton are considered historical landmarks and cannot be changed.
The restaurant changed hands numerous times and was most recently owned by Milt Guggia Jr., whose father, a restaurateur, purchased both Andersen’s locations in 1999. The building sits on a 3.36-acre lot at 376 Avenue of the Flags. The restaurant was put up for sale in 2021 though the adjacent Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn was not included in the offering.
Photos by The Restaurant Guy