Old Town Coffee coming to downtown

Reader Oxmyx let me know that Old Town Coffee in Goleta is opening a second location at 1131 State Street inside Mosaic Locale, taking over the Hook & Press Donuts space which is moving to Figueroa Street in the former home of Jeannine’s Bakery.

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Alessia Patisserie & Cafe opening this month

European-inspired Alessia Patisserie & Cafe plans to open in June at 134 East Canon Perdido Street, the former home of Miso Hungry and Sojourner Cafe. Owner Alessia Guehr is the daughter of Brigitte Guehr and Norbert Schulz who introduced several area restaurants including Mirabelle, The Nook, Norbert’s, and Brigitte’s. The eatery will offer breakfast, lunch, croissants, pastries, and more. Positions available for both full and part time include Baristas, Food runners, Cashiers, Kitchen manager, Morning line cooks, and Dishwashers.

Photo by The Restaurant Guy (June 7)

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Jeannine’s Bakery opening at the foot of Stearns Wharf

Reader Primetime tells me that Jeannine’s Bakery, known as one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in town, will be opening a new location at 1 State Street, the former home of State Street Coffee (which closed on May 31), Due Lune Ristorante and Bar, Eladio’s, A & W Root Beer, and Sunny’s Hamburger Stand. This will be the 4th location for the popular eatery that serves customers at 1253 Coast Village Road in Montecito, 7060 Hollister Avenue in Goleta (next to Smart & Final) and 3607 State Street which is currently closed for renovation. Their outlet at 15 East Figueroa Street closed last December and will soon be the home of Hook & Press. The friendly staff from State Street Coffee will be joining Jeannine’s when it opens July 1st.

The new seaside Jeannine’s Bakery is at the intersection of several longtime local names: the Romasanta family, which has owned the Harbor View Inn and adjoining restaurant property since 1982, the Hardey family which has run Jeannine’s Bakery since 1985, and the Bottoms family, whose member James “Bud” Bottoms created the iconic dolphin sculpture atop the fountain at Stearns Wharf in 1985.

“We’re very excited to be here at One State Street, in the corridor that shows off our beautiful town,” says co-owner Alison Hardey. “To be the first thing many people see, and that we happen to be local for more than 30 years, and have become part of the Santa Barbara fabric, we feel that it is an honor.” In addition to countless locals, and tourists that drive here from central and southern California, the area was visited by over 50 cruise ships each year before the pandemic.

Accompanying the building that wraps around the corner of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard is a large outdoor patio overlooking Stearns Wharf and West Beach, and a full bar. The bakery supporting the new waterfront Jeannine’s (and eventually all local Jeannine’s) will be located next door on the Harbor View Inn property. Visit jeannines.com.

Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Costa Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Mar Monte opens Wednesday

Costa Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Mar Monte, 1111 East Cabrillo Boulevard, will be having a soft opening for dinner-only on Wednesday June 2nd. The following week regular hours will be Wednesday – Sunday 5-10 p.m. The bar at the east end of the eatery will be open until about 11 p.m.

Costa offers a mix of coastal Italian cuisine and modern southern Californian fare, created by Executive Chef Nathan Lingle, in a setting that includes ocean views. “Our goal is to have a restaurant space here that’s showcasing the local craftsmen and the ingredients of this area, but more so a restaurant for the community and for the people who live here year round,” says Lingle. “It’s a great amenity for our hotel guests but first and foremost we want the restaurant to be known in the community for the community.”

I am told that the restaurant was actually ready to go just as the pandemic struck last year and has been in a holding pattern ever since. Though it is primarily an indoor eatery the doors to the patio area open completely offering an indoor-outdoor appeal. The other dining facility at Hotel Mar Monte called Café Lido—Italian for “shore”— lets you enjoy Mediterranean-style small plates and cocktails near the Mar Monte Hotel pool deck. It opened last November.

Costa Kitchen & Bar’s appetizer menu includes Housemade Sourdough Flatbread $6, Warm Marinated Olives $9, Six Kumiai Oysters $18, Central Coast Halibut $18, Speck Ham & Stone Fruit $16, Penn Cove Mussels $15, Whole Roasted Artichoke $14, Fritto Misto $8, Roasted Market Carrots $11, Chargrilled Broccolini $12, and Blistered Summer Beans $12.

Available salads are Farmers Market Greens $10, Tuscan Kale & Stone Fruit $15, and Chilled Saffron Couscous $10.

The initial fish and meat offerings include Roast Half Chicken $26, California King Salmon $32, Lamb Scallopini $28, Cioppino $42, Whole Roasted Branzino $33, and Dry-Aged Santa Carota Strip Steak $42.

If you feel like having pasta for dinner you can choose from Rigatoni Pomodoro $21, Ridgeback Shrimp Canneloni $27, Potato Gnocchi $26, and Handmade Tagliatelle $27.

Lastly, dessert offerings at Costa Kitchen & Bar are California Olive Oil Cake $9, Cheesecake $9, Chocolate Tart $9, and Tahini Semifreddo $9.

—> View the full menu

Courtesy photos

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The Daisy reopens

The Daisy restaurant which opened at 1221 State Street in November 2019, then promptly closed a few months later at the onset of pandemic, has announced that they are now open for lunch and dinner. The sandwiches menu includes Brisket Banh Mi $16, Niman Ranch Ham $14, Mary’s Tarragon Chicken Salad $14, Pickled Beet $13, and Lemony Chickpea $13. All Day plates available are Mezze Plate $16, House Fish Plate $21, Falafel Plate $17, Farm Grain Bowl $16, and Daisy Cheeseburger $16. Evening plates include House Smoked Prawns $19, Cauliflower Fritters $15, Spicy Braised Chickpeas $15, California Lamb & Beef Kofta Meatballs $21, and Golden Chicken Thighs $19. Hours are Wednesday thru Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. – close. The Daisy takes a break every Monday & Tuesday.

Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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Coffee shop coming to Calle Real

Reader Deebo says that a new business is coming soon to 5915 Calle Real Ste. A in the former home of Pizza Hut which is across the parking lot from Zodo’s Bowling. Deebo says that the window painting has the neighborhood curious. From what I can tell the artwork suggests the next tenant will be a coffee shop. Construction appears to have just recently started so opening is likely months away.

Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Taqueria El Pastorcito closes in Noleta

Reader Annie let me know that Taqueria El Pastorcito appears to have closed their restaurant in the small shopping center at State-Hollister-Modoc. “Their food truck remains active, usually at the Tri-County Produce parking lot,” said Annie. “I noticed their sign up at 1917 De La Vina (formerly a non-retail kitchen operated by a catering business). I think the sign said something like 5-10pm Thursday-Saturday but not sure. I’m not sure if they’re operating a low-key takeout business there or just using the kitchen as a prep space for food truck/catering stuff. ” The now-closed Taqueria El Pastorcito at 4427 Hollister Avenue opened in February 2016. Their website suggests they still have a truck parked at Tri County Produce.

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La Sirena is out, Reunion Kitchen is in

On April 23 I passed the word from reader SB4Ever that La Sirena restaurant, once set to open at the Cabrillo Pavilion in the space formerly occupied by the East Beach Grill, might be in jeopardy because owner Doug Cavanaugh was recently sued in federal court over the bankruptcy of his Ruby’s Diner restaurant chain. Reader SB4Ever sent a follow-up tip that a few days after we ran the story a new sign was posted on the premises indicating that the restaurant will now be Reunion Kitchen which has locations in Anaheim Hills and Laguna Beach. A peek inside at the construction reveals that the opening is still a few months away.

“At Reunion, we believe it’s our mission to create an environment where everyone can find something they love,” is how the business is described at reunionkitchen.net. “A place where you can unwind over food or catch up with friends over a drink. A place to disconnect from the always connected world and experience superior service and value. A place worth talking about. Modern Comfort informs everything we do at Reunion. It’s innovative interpretations on the foods you love. It’s the skill and precision our bartenders bring to crafting you the perfect cocktail. It’s the exhibition style kitchen that allow you to see and hear the passion our chefs bring to creating every dish. It’s a design aesthetic that doesn’t distract but compliments and a belief that the dining experience should never be uptight but always relaxing, allowing you to enjoy the company of family and friends.”

Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Crush Bar & Tap opens downtown

Crush Bar & Tap opened today (May 29) in the historical San Marcos Courtyard spot previously occupied by Armada Wine Merchant. “The Crushcakes Family has a new addition, Crush Bar & Tap,” says owner Shannon Noormand. “We opened this weekend at 1129 A State Street in the courtyard next to Core Power Yoga. We are serving locally sourced wines, beers and snacks such as Step Ladder Cheese plates, Baba Small Batch Hummus plates, chips, dips, and Crushcakes desserts (of course!) What goes perfect with wine… cupcakes!” Their wine list includes popular local names such as Margerum, Melville, Tyler, and Curran. Beer selections include Third Window, Modern Times, MadeWest, and more. Crush Bar & Tap is open everyday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on weekends. Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday from 2-5 p.m.

Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Live music with Acme Hospitality

Press release:

Live music is back, and there’s nowhere better to enjoy it than in the heart of Santa Barbara’s eclectic Funk Zone at Lucky Penny, The Lark, Helena Avenue Bakery, and Santa Barbara Wine Collective. Located at 131 Anacapa Street in a repurposed industrial warehouse, you’ll find live music and DJs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this spring and summer, performing in various areas around the complex. Special guests The Bryan Titus Trio—masters of Bluegrass and America Roots Music—headline at Lucky Penny Plaza on Sunday, June 13th from 12 pm to 3 pm where guests can enjoy wood-fired pizza, grilled panini, fresh salads, beer, wine, and the local favorite Frosé.

Corey Highberg, 3-5 PM, May 20

The Reserve, 12-3 PM, Saturdays through June 26
Brian Titus Trio, 12-3 PM, Sunday, June 13

Party Proper DJ, 5-8 PM, Fridays

Party Proper DJ, 11-2 PM, Sundays

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Rosewood Miramar Beach invites community to Memorial Day cookout

Press release:

During Memorial Day at Rosewood Miramar Beach you can enjoy an all-American cookout on The Great Lawn on May 30, from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Cookout highlights include sliced USDA prime brisket, pulled pork or chicken, housemade beef sausage, burgers and classic sides like potato salad, coleslaw, and corn on the Cobb. Desserts include whoopie pie, blueberry crumble pie and churros. The cost is $65 for adults, $25 for children 12 and younger (under 4 eat for free). Attendees can also enjoy live music, and family-friendly activities on the grounds. Walk-up reservations only. For more information contact 805-900-8388.

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The Daisy to reopen this month

The Daisy Restaurant which opened at 1221 State Street in November 2019 and was forced to close a few months later because of the pandemic, has announced on Instagram that they are aiming for the end of May to reopen.

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Hook & Press Donuts announces new location

Santa Barbara locals John Burnett and Denisse Salinas are excited to announce that their craft donut shop, Hook & Press Donuts, is moving to a new location at 15 East Figueroa Street in the La Arcada Plaza. It is slated to open late summer/early fall 2021.

“We’re beyond thrilled for our shop’s new home in the impossibly charming La Arcada Plaza and look forward to creating a warm, welcoming environment for our community in the iconic former home of Jeannine’s Bakery, a longtime favorite spot of ours, ” says Salinas.

Since launching in late 2018, Hook & Press Donuts has operated inside Mosaic Locale, a co-op retail space on State Street, with production occurring in a shared off-site kitchen.  “Moving into a full-access kitchen in our own space will allow us to expand our hours of operation, increase production and evolve our menu, providing the opportunity to become the donut shop we have always envisioned,” says Burnett.

In addition to their scratch made yeast-raised donuts, famous apple fritters and full espresso bar serving Santa Barbara’s own Coastal Coffee Collective, new menu offerings will include cake-style, gluten free and vegan donuts, as well as a selection of savory breakfast and brunch items.

Follow Hook & Press Donuts on Instagram and facebook @hookandpressdonuts for more updates.

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The Palms update

The Palms restaurant & bar at 701 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria closed like so many other eateries did at the onset of the pandemic but as of May 2021 the business remains dark. Current health rules don’t allow buffet lines, cook-your-own-steak places, and salad bars which are signature features of the Carpinteria icon. There has been a lot of talk about actor and area resident Kevin Costner taking over but that might be just a field of dreams.

Update from reader Jimmy Jam: “The Costner thing is definitely a rumor. The owners of the Palms recently took out an ad in the local Coastal View saying they’re still going to come back when regulations allow.”

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Hibachi Steak House to reopen

Hibachi Steak House at 500 State Street, which closed in February 2021 after decades in business, is planning to reopen. Reader Christine spotted a sign on the window of the business that reads:

“Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar by Something’s Fishy is opening soon. Now hiring: Teppan Chefs, Sushi Chefs, Servers, Cooks, Bussers. Please email resume to metrodinegroup@aol.com”

Photos by reader Primetime

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Persona Pizzeria rebranding as Cali-Forno Pizzeria

This just in from reader Brendan:

Persona Pizzeria on State Street appears to be in the process of rebranding as Cali-Forno Pizzeria. Their sign out front has changed and they have a new website (californopizza.com ) but some of the stuff still seems to say Persona Pizzeria. Not sure if there have been any real changes or just a rebranding; they seem to still be selling basically the same product.

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Restaurant and bar coming to Coast Village Road.

Khao Kaeng by Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar closed at 1187 Coast Village Road in Montecito closed in December 2019 after a year in business. Reader Annie now reports that plans posted by the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review suggest a restaurant and bar will be the next tenant.

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Courthouse Tavern opening in June

For the last two years our culinary Crystal Ball has been revealing that an unnamed eatery is coming to 129 East Anapamu Street, the former home of The Little Door, Piano Riviera Lounge, The French Table, and Elements Restaurant & Bar. That fuzzy forecast has cleared up significantly with the announcement that Courthouse Tavern will be moving into the coveted space overlooking the majestic Santa Barbara County Courthouse and sunken gardens. “Looking forward to hosting friends and visitors in a friendly neighborhood restaurant and bar atmosphere,” says owner Warren Butler who is also the Managing Partner at Chase Restaurant & Lounge. Courthouse Tavern will be serving American cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and will have Happy Hour all day with drink specials and small plates. The eatery will also be available for private parties and catering. The opening date is scheduled for June 15th when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for the state.

Chase Restaurant & Lounge Managing Partner Warren Butler is opening Courthouse Tavern on Anapamu Street in the former home of Elements. Photo by Carlos Cuellar Photography.

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Alphie’s closes, property up for sale

Reader Heidi let me know that she saw a For Sale sign at Alphie’s restaurant, 5725 Hollister Avenue in Goleta. The eatery was started more than four decades ago by Albert and Ophie Tagatac. “Alphie” is a combination of their first names. The Old Town Goleta icon closed at the onset of the pandemic and was not able to reopen under the umbrella of COVID-19 rules so the family decided to sell their property, retire, and move to Colorado. The real estate, which has a rental in the back, is not yet listed but might be priced at around $1.5 million. Berkshire Hathaway will be handling the transaction.

Photo by reader Heidi

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Crushcakes opening “Crush Bar” downtown

Armada Wine Merchant is tucked away in the historical San Marcos Courtyard downtown, near Santa Barbara’s legendary (and dearly departed) 1129 Restaurant & Bar. Reader Jonathan says the business at 1129A State Street has changed ownership and noticed that several of the people moving furniture inside the business were wearing “Crushcakes” t-shirts. When I called Armada their voice mail says they are open for business as usual while a Google search says they are temporarily closed. Meanwhile reader Annie spotted the following message on Craigslist:

“Crush Bar – Now Hiring All Positions! (Santa Barbara) Come join the Crush Bar family! From the family whom brings you Crushcakes Cafes, we are an upcoming beer & wine bar opening at the end of May and looking for service minded individuals to join our team! We are a family owned business committed to providing quality food and beverages to our community while engaging with our guests. We are looking to hire for all of our positions including: Hosts, Servers, Bar backs & Bartenders with opportunities for cross training and upward mobility. Applicants preferably should have experience working with food or alcohol however we will train the right person if they seem like a good fit.”

I sent an inquiry to the management at Crushcakes and a response is still pending.

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Best of the West

My family recently went on a parks tour of southwestern states spanning 1,800 miles. We took the train to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and drove a rental car back home, stopping at numerous sites along the way. Highlights include White Sands National Monument, Three Rivers Petroglyphs, Valley of Fire Lava Beds, Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, South Rim Grand Canyon, Red Rock State Park in Sedona, and Joshua Tree.

We dined at many restaurants during our travels and one in particular stood out as the best during the two weeks we were on the road: El Tovar Hotel at South Rim Grand Canyon. The food and service was so outstanding we decided to have every meal there during our two day visit. In particular I enjoyed the Seared Sea Scallops (5 U-10 scallops, coconut lemon cream sauce, sweet potato-carrot-ginger puree, chef’s choice vegetable, $38.95), Braised Lamb Shank (braised lamb shank, southwestern tomato-pepper sauce, brown butter mashed potatoes, chef’s choice vegetable, $36.95), and Eggs Benedict (toasted English muffin, traditional hollandaise, poached eggs, honey smoked salmon, $15). If you are aware of any local restaurants that offers this style of scallops please let me know. It’s a great combination.

This celebrated historic hotel located directly on the rim of the Grand Canyon first opened its doors in 1905. El Tovar was one of a chain of hotels and restaurants owned and operated by the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railway. The menu is traditional, integrating both international and local Southwest influences. The Service Staff for the El Tovar Dining Room are consummate professionals; many have been with the restaurant for over 20 years. The El Tovar Dining Room is considered the premier dining establishment at the Grand Canyon and is recognized internationally.

The El Tovar Hotel Dining Room at South Rim Grand Canyon was the best restaurant my family encountered during a recent tour of southwestern states. Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Pepe’s update

Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant at 254 Orange Avenue in Goleta was damaged by a fire last December. “It was a kitchen fire,” said owner Osiris Castellanos at the time. “It destroyed all of our kitchen equipment and there was smoke damage throughout the building. We will hopefully open by March or April 2021.” Reader Dave asked for an update and I wasn’t able to gather any details so I drove by for a visual inspection. It was dark and quiet with no active construction going on. The only progress visible from the street were batches of new tiles on the roof, ready to be installed.

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Uptown Jeannine’s update

Reader Bruce asked about the status of Jeannine’s Bakery at 3607 State Street which has been closed during much of the pandemic. There appears to be lots of construction going on and I am guessing that a few months of work are still ahead. Hopefully they open sooner. Locations at 1253 Coast Village Road in Montecito and 7060 Hollister Avenue Suite 105 in Goleta are open for business as usual. Downtown Jeannine’s at 15 East Figueroa Street closed last December.

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Restaurant Concession at Goleta Beach

The County Of Santa Barbara has announced that proposals are being accepted to operate the restaurant concession at Goleta Beach, 5095 Sandspit Road in Goleta, the former home of Beachside Bar-Cafe that closed last January. Proposals will be received by the Community Services Department, Parks Division, until 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 30, 2021. At that date and time, all proposals will be publicly opened and the names of the Proposers will be read aloud. For details visit countyofsb.org/parks/procurement.sbc

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The Crystal Ball Knows All

After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of food and drink locations appearing in your future:

  • Alessia Patisserie & Cafe, 134 E. Canon Perdido St. (formerly Miso Hungry  and Sojourner Cafe)
  • Backstage Kitchen & Bar, 409 State St. (formerly Q’s Billiards)
  • Cajé, 811 State St. (formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf)
  • Carp Kitchen and Grocery, 4945 Carpinteria Ave. Ste. A, Carpinteria
  • Corazón Guisados, 214 State St. (formerly Ca’Dario Pizzeria)
  • Costa Kitchen & Bar at Mar Monte Hotel, 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.\
  • Courthouse Tavern, 129 E. Anapamu St. (formerly Elements Restaurant & Lounge)
  • Dutch Garden, 4203 State St. (reopening in 2021)
  • Everytable, 1001 State St. (formerly Saks 5th Avenue)
  • Fatte’s Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St. (formerly Santa Barbara Wood-Fired Pizza)
  • The Good Plow, 5205 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria (formerly Fosters Freeze)
  • IHOP, University Plaza, Goleta
  • Juice N Things, 4991 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria (formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf)
  • Kitchen 530, 530 State St. (formerly Samy’s Camera)
  • La Sirena, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (formerly East Beach Grill)
  • Mangione’s Italian Ice, 1222 State St. (formerly Spoon)
  • Starbucks, 3052 De la Vina St. (formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf)
  • Unnamed, 700 State St. (formerly Left At Albuquerque)
  • Unnamed, 1187 Coast Village Rd. (formerly Khao Kaeng by Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar)
  • Woody’s BBQ, 10 Winchester Canyon Rd., Goleta (formerly Timbers)

La Sirena restaurant is coming to the Cabrillo Pavilion. Courtesy photo.

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Food for Thought

John Bennett, from the family behind Brophy Bros., On The Alley, Benchmark Eatery, and Farmer Boy, offers some thoughts on the local restaurant workforce and how it has been affected by the pandemic:

To Those We Wish To Serve

Santa Barbara’s restaurant industry, having suffered an almost fatal blow from the pandemic quarantine, is now dealing with lingering side effects. Even as restaurant sales are rebounding from the pandemic-hammered levels of a year ago, Santa Barbara full- service restaurants are struggling to ramp back up because they can’t recruit enough employees. Even with 1.8 million restaurant workers displaced by the crisis since February 2020, the local full-service restaurant industry’s labor crunch is in full force.

I assure you that full-service restaurant operators understand that service will be more important than ever as guests unleash their pent-up demand for enhanced restaurant experiences. They’re going to want to be waited on, pampered, and served an experience they could never recreate at home. And it will be up to restaurants to deliver, because even as that pent-up demand fuels dine-in traffic, customers will remain aware of the convenience we delivered during the pandemic. They’ll know how to dial up delivery, order-ahead, pickup, shop curbside, and all those channels that kept them afloat during COVID. They will not be happy when they return to dine-in if the experience is not as satisfying. The loss of an experienced workforce is, therefore, a side-effect of the pandemic.

Many in the community may be wondering, “What happened to all the wonderful servers we came to know and look forward to seeing again? Where did they go?”

1. While restaurants were furloughing their whole workforces, employers in other industries kept hiring. Businesses like supermarkets, e-retailers and fulfillment warehouses scarfed up the former busboys, servers and kitchen workers, who welcomed the relative safety those fields afforded.
2. Rival industries tried to lock in their employees by raising pay. Target, for instance, temporarily raised its standard pay to $15 an hour, and Amazon increased its starting wage to the same amount.
3. Because restaurant workers are more exposed to the COVID-19 virus, hospitality occupations became less and less attractive.
4. Women, the very backbone of the restaurant business, fell out of the workforce due to child-care issues and school not being in full swing.
5. The extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits of $300 until September 6th enabled restaurant employees to wait a little longer before jumping back in.
6. College being held remote and not on campus removed most of the UCSB students from our labor force.

Restaurant work has been the mainstay employment for Americans in transition since the end of World War II. They have been attracted to the flexible hours, high hourly tipped income, the entertainment atmosphere and the magic that comes with being of service. They will return but unfortunately, it’s not likely until after the summer. We hope the guests are aware of this struggle and show some empathy for the workforce carrying the load.

John Bennett

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Gelson’s Celebrating the Grand Reopening of Santa Barbara Store

Evolving with the communities it serves, Gelson’s announced that it will be celebrating the grand reopening of its Santa Barbara location through May 23rd. The store is located at 3305 State St in Loreto Plaza.

The beautifully remodeled and expanded store offers larger wine, floral and food preparation areas augmenting the already existing gourmet grocery store with high-quality foods, a Wolfgang Puck Express, Renaud’s bakery, a gourmet cheese selection, and fresh sushi prepared each day.

Each week throughout the grand reopening, Gelson’s will be offering savings on a new selection of impeccable quality products. These specials will vary from week to week and include USA Raised Fresh Pork Baby Back Ribs, Wild Caught King Salmon Filet, Impossible Burger, Certified Angus Beef Tri Tip Roast and a selection of wines like La Marca Prosecco, Edna Valley Chardonnay and Daou Cabernet Sauvignon, often offering a savings of 40% or more.

Celebrating 70 years, Gelson’s currently operates 27 full-service specialty grocery stores in Southern California. Each Gelson’s Market features the full amenities of a traditional supermarket, with the local flavor of a neighborhood market. Their high standards – for quality, value and freshness; unsurpassed service; and attention to detail – define the ultimate grocery shopping experience. Gelson’s in-house experts know Southern California’s lifestyle and are driven to find only the best foods and exclusive values for their customers. Gelson’s is particularly known for flavorful, hand-selected produce, the best and freshest cuts of meat and seafood, and Chef-prepared signature recipes. This experience is rounded out by professionally designed floral arrangements, and a convenient selection of the highest quality grocery items.

Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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NoTown Tavern opens in Noleta

Last March readers Steve H. and Brian told me that Monty’s Sports Bar, the dive bar at 5114 Hollister Avenue, in the Magnolia Center just east of Goleta (a region affectionately known as Noleta), had permanently closed and that a replacement was coming: NoTown Tavern. Steve H. wants to let you know that NoTown Tavern is now open for business. Their original plan was to partner with Woody’s BBQ to offer food but I don’t know if that is still happening. I have also heard that NoTown Tavern will be making superb cocktails with Goleta Red Distilling Company’s Goodland Gin.

Photos by reader Steve H.

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Wingman Rodeo takes flight

The Restaurant Gal and I enjoyed a couple of orders of wings (Thai Peanut and Lemon Pepper Rub) at 5892 Hollister Avenue, the new home of Wingman Rodeo which opened recently in Old Town Goleta. The space formerly housed Gimeal Cafe and The Natural Cafe. In March 2020 the first local Wingman Rodeo location started serving food during evenings at 730 North Milpas Street which is the home of The Shop Kitchen during the day.

The wings are sold in packs of 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20, priced at $1.50 per wing. The wing menu includes Pineapple Bourbon, Cali BBQ, Thai Peanut, Rodeo Parmesan, Korean BBQ, Buffalo, Strawberry Árbol, Atomic Buffalo, Lemon Pepper Rub, Chipotle Lime Rub and Sichuan Tingly Rub. Available dips are Blue Cheese, Ranch, Honey Mustard, and Rodeo Parmesan, priced at $1 each. A variety of sandwiches, burritos, salads, and sides are also available.

The restaurant will soon be adding counter seating and high tables to the right side of the interior that will have the look and feel of a bar and will serve draft beer. The left side will continue to have regular tables and benches offering a steady flow of fresh-cooked wings. Owner Dudley Michael tells me that locations in Ventura and Santa Maria are planned. The new Goodland Wingman Rodeo is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

This is the third wing-themed eatery to open on the South Coast in the last year. Wingstop opened next to La Cumbre Plaza at 3849 State Street last February while Wing Drop opened behind 436 State Street last June. Albertsons also offers surprisingly good wings if you are lucky enough to walk in when a fresh batch arrives.

Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Cafe Stella reopens

Le Cafe Stella at 3302 McCaw Avenue resumes dinner service on April 28th. Reservations are available via OpenTable and their website. “Our commitment to quality service returns with the an updated concept, slight modifications have been made to our menus, and at this time only limited seating is available for dinner service,” says owner Philippe Rousseau. “In line with local and state regulations, and with our guests’ safety in mind, indoor and patio dining tables are appropriately socially distanced. We can’t wait to welcome you back with an upgraded concept focusing on traditional French cuisine.”

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Starbucks coming to De la Vina

Reader Oxmyx inquired about new fencing around the building at 3052 De la Vina Street, the former home of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that closed last July. Fortunately reader Leon quickly followed up with an answer: a new Starbucks is on the way. He sent me a quote from the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review Consent Agenda that says “Proposal for exterior alterations including new exterior paint and material changes, landscape alterations, ADA upgrades, outdoor seating, and exterior lighting to rebrand the existing 1,740 square foot (gross) building into a Starbucks.”

Starbucks is replacing Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near upper State, seen here in 2005. Photo by The Restaurant Guy.

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South Coast Deli closes in Isla Vista

Reader Josh inquired about the status of the South Coast Deli at 6521 Pardall Road in Isla Vista that opened in October 2011. This is the same building that is famous for being the original location of Kinko’s and (arguably) The Habit Burger Grill. I called a representative and was told that the I.V. eatery closed permanently a couple of months ago. The total number of outlets for the local chain remain at four however with the opening of their new San Roque restaurant at 3534 State Street earlier this month.

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Grand opening on De la Vina?

This just in from reader Aug:

Whats going on at the old Cajun Kitchen on De la Vina street? They had bunch of balloons out front like a grand opening was happening.

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Restaurant Closings

Here is a list of area eateries that have permanently closed in the last year:

    • February 2021: Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, 500 State St.; Malibu Farm at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito (now The Revere Room); South Coast Deli, 6521 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
    • January 2021: Beachside Bar Café, 5905 Sandspit Rd., Goleta; Noemi Pizza Romana, 3534 State St. (now South Coast Deli); Panera Bread, 3851 State St.; Yanni’s at Mackenzie Market, 3102 State St.
    • December 2020: Chocolats du CaliBressan, 1114 State St.; Dunkin Donuts, 3771 State St.; Jeannine’s Bakery, 15 E. Figueroa St.
    • November 2020: Neighbor Tim’s BBQ, Food Truck
    • October 2020: Olio Crudo Bar, 11 W. Victoria St. (now Olio Bottega)
    • September 2020: Lucky Dragon, 6831 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Paradise Café, 702 Anacapa St. (now La Paloma Café); Silvergreens, 900 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista (now Kyle’s Kitchen)
    • August 2020: Ana’s Taco Bar, 505 State St. (now Crazy Jim’s); Fosters Freeze, 5205 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria (changing to The Good Plow); The Middle Child, 18 E. Cota St. (now Venus in Furs); Onus Donuts, 413 State St. (now JJ’s Diner); PokeCeviche, 313 Paseo Nuevo; Wetzel’s Pretzels, 723 State St. (now Tondi Gelato)
    • July 2020: C’est Cheese, 825 Santa Barbara St. (now Cheese Shop Santa Barbara); Coffee Bean, 3052 De la Vina St.
    • June 2020: Dutch Garden, 4203 State St. (reopening in 2021); Mosto Crudo, 7 W. Haley St. (now Aperitivo); Romanti-Ezer, 701 Chapala St.; Rose Cafe, 424 E. Haley St.; Subway, 1021A State St.; Subway, 5146 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Zizzo’s Coffeehouse & Brew Pub, 370 Storke Rd., Goleta (now The Point Coffee)
    • May 2020: Coffee Bean, 811 State St. (changing to Cajé); Coffee Bean, 4961 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria (changing to Juice N Things); Crushcakes & Cafe, 4945 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria (changing to Carp Kitchen and Grocery); eBar Coffee at Nordstrom, 17 W. Canon Perdido St.; Enterprise Fish Company, 225 State St.; Lemon & Coriander, 231 Magnolia Ave., Goleta; Marketplace Cafe at Nordstrom, 17 W. Canon Perdido St.; PizzaRev, 12 W. De la Guerra St.
    • April 2020: Cafe Ana, 1201 Anacapa St. (now Secret Bao); Cajun Kitchen, 1925 De la Vina St.; Chuck’s Waterfront Grill, 113 Harbor Wy., Ste. 180 (now Chomp on the Rocks); Endless Summer Bar Cafe, 113 Harbor Wy., Ste. 180 (now The Salty Beach Bar); Treehouse Restaurant, 3860 State St.
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La Sirena owner named in legal complaint

Reader SB4Ever emailed me wondering if the extended delay of the opening of the La Sirena restaurant at the Cabrillo Pavilion, in the space formerly occupied by the East Beach Grill, is in anyway related to a lawsuit filed last month against the eatery’s owner Doug Cavanaugh. The city’s Parks & Recreation Department says the building is ready; it’s just waiting for the pandemic to be over.

In January 2019 the Santa Barbara City Council approved a 10-year contract with Cavanaugh’s company The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove in Orange County which will pay Santa Barbara over $216,000 per year in base rent with an allowance for future increases.

The complaint, filed in federal court in the Central District of California, alleges that defendants Cavanaugh and Ralph Kosmides, owners and former officers of Ruby’s Diner, Inc., drove the chain into bankruptcy in August 2018 after improperly taking assets from Ruby’s Diner to develop two highly successful restaurants in Crystal Cove State Park: The Beachcomber and The Shake Shack.

The La Sirena restaurant is coming to the Cabrillo Pavilion. Courtesy photo.

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Question of the Day

Hi John.
I’m hoping for some reinforcement on a trivia question that was started by my brother. He asked what restaurant was in the [La Cumbre Plaza] space where Red Robin was before it was Red Robin. The best answer I came up with was it was the Ben Hur Restaurant. I got this from Antonio Gardella’s Rundown of Eateries list. Can you back this up at all?

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Restaurant Openings

Here is a list of area eateries that have opened in the last 12 months:

  • April 2021: The Point Coffee, 370 Storke Rd., Goleta; The Revere Room at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito; South Coast Deli, 3534 State St.;
  • March 2021: 4 Eggs & Pizza,1221 State St. Ste. 10; Palihouse Cafe and Bar, 915 Garden St.; Sear Steakhouse, 478 4th Place, Solvang; Secret Bao, 1201 Anacapa St.; Tondi Gelato, 723 State St.
  • February 2021: Wingstop, 3849 State St.
  • January 2021: Barb’s Pies, 18 E. Cota St.
  • November 2020: Cafe Lido at Mar Monte Hotel, 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Caje Coffee Roasters, 1316 State St.; Hustle & Grind Coffee Company, 11 W. De la Guerra St.; La Paloma Café, 702 Anacapa St.; Yona Redz Queso Tacos, 532 State St.
  • October 2020: Cheese Shop Santa Barbara, 827 Santa Barbara St.; Chomp on the Rocks, 113 Harbor Wy., Ste. 180; Kyle’s Kitchen, 900 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Olio Bottega, 11 W. Victoria St.
  • September 2020: Salty at the Beach, 113 Harbor Wy., Ste. 180; Sprouts Farmers Market, 29 S. Milpas St.
  • August 2020: Aperitivo, 7 W. Haley St.; Bristol Farms, 3855 State St.; Crazy Jim’s Tacos y Mas, 505 State St.;  Dean Coffee Shop, 6100-1 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Insomnia Cookies, 430 State St.; Revolver Pizza, 1429 San Andres; Thai Kitchen, 4317 State St., Ste. D
  • July 2020: Mercado El Rey, 305 W. Montecito St.; Little Dom’s Seafood, 686 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Lost & Found, 905 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Mesa Burger, 1209 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Red Pepper, 282 Orange Ave., Goleta
  • June 2020: Wing Drop Food Truck, behind 436 State St or locate on Instagram; Oakberry Acai Bowls, 819-B State St. (in Paseo Nuevo); Coast & Olive at Montecito Inn, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Noemi Pizza Romana, 3534 State St. (now South Coast Deli)
  • May 2020: Rusty’s Pizza, 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland
  • April 2020: Taqueria Santa Barbara, 1213 State St., Ste. A; Ca’Dario, 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
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Earth Day dinner

The Lark and Santa Barbara Wine Collective celebrate the bounty of the Central Coast this Earth Day with a 4-course paired dinner event featuring Angela Osborne on April 22, 2021 at 7 p.m. Angela is the owner and winemaker at A Tribute to Grace Wine Company and will be on hand to offer insight into her techniques, values, and love of our region. All wines are single-vineyard sourced to maintain authenticity and remain 100% Grenache. I am told that biodynamic principles and an intelligent choice of terroir make Angela’s varietal wholly unique. Dinner will be held on the patio of the Santa Barbara Wine Collective at 131 Anacapa Street Ste. C and includes preserved California artichokes & dungeness crab, smoked maitake mushroom tartine on brioche, slow-cooked Superior Farms lamb ribs, and a California cheese board.

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The Point drive-thru coffee opens in Goleta

A drive-thru coffee pop-up named The Point has opened at 370 Storke Road in Goleta, formerly Zizzo’s Coffeehouse & Brew Pub and the Storke Road Drive Inn. “State-of-the-Art on-demand machines create the freshest cup possible and allow customers to select from five different roasts and three different sizes,” is how the business is described at pointmarkets.com. “Beans are instantly pressed during each brew process to deliver our customers with the freshest and most flavorful cup of coffee.”

The coffee shop was added so that the owner John Price does not lose the drive-thru permit which would happen if the building is unoccupied for more than a year. The permit is not needed for the gas station but I am told is valuable to have for future use since they are no longer given out in Goleta. The property will become a Fuel Depot. The Point coffee is brought to you by The Point Market which has 6 other area locations including Coast Village Chevron, Downtown Fuel Depot, Mesa Fuel Depot, Las Positas Fuel Depot, Turnpike Shell, and Walnut Shell. The Point Market will open at the Storke Road property once the new Fuel Depot is built.

Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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Restaurant fund awards $500,000 to 71 local eateries

The Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation Restaurant Fund in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation announced $500,000 in grants to 71 restaurants located in the City of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley (including Los Alamos). This new grant program was launched in early February with eligible restaurants able to receive grants of up to $10,000.

Santa Barbara County tourism has taken a large hit due to rolling spikes in COVID-19 cases, that included several restaurant closures. Restaurants have been able to expand into the streets and sidewalks to allow for outdoor dining. As restaurants have attempted to be creative in their approach to remain open, still restaurant employees suffered economically.

“The grant we received from the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation Restaurant Fund has been invaluable in allowing us to reopen after a prolonged shutdown,” said Kelly Kastanos-Rogers, Co-Owner of Louie’s California Bistro in downtown Santa Barbara and grant recipient. “We were able to stock our shelves with the seafood and produce to prepare for opening, and we were able to provide our employees with the first paycheck many of them have had in months. We will be forever grateful.”

The Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation Restaurant Fund is a committee advised fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, which is working to provide additional relief to the community at large. The grant program application period opened on February 4, and closed on February 22.

“The Santa Barbara Foundation is working hard to connect resources and ease the short and long-term effects of COVID-19,” said Jessica Sanchez, Director of Donor Relations at the Santa Barbara Foundation. “This committee advised fund is creating immediate impact and we are grateful to support our community-at-large in this way.”

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