High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer
Source: Santa Barbara Airport
Santa Barbara Airport Protects Long-Term Interests Amidst Restaurant Closure
The owners of the restaurant High Sierra Grill & Bar, located adjacent to the Santa Barbara Airport airfield, last week notified the City of Santa Barbara of its intent to close the restaurant for business. “We are very disappointed that the restaurant was unable to be profitable; the Airport had high hopes for the restaurant when we leased it in 2015,” said Airport Director, Henry Thompson. The prior long-time tenant, Elephant Bar, closed in 2013.
By all accounts, the restaurant has been a struggling business for some time and for the last year, the City has provided rent relief to keep it open. The owners’ decision to close follows an attempt since February of this year to sell the business and transfer their lease with the City to another owner. After reviewing several incomplete proposals requesting an assignment of the lease, the Airport eventually received sufficient information to consider the assignment. The City thoroughly reviewed the terms of the proposed deal. “The owners of High Sierra Grill signed a 25-year commitment to the City, so it’s reasonable that the City do its due diligence to understand the deal they’re proposing,” said Thompson.
In accordance with the terms of the lease, the Airport notified High Sierra Grill yesterday of its decision to deny the requested assignment of the City’s lease to Flightline LLC as being contrary to the best interests of the Airport.
As detailed in its written response, the Airport had legitimate business concerns regarding Flightline LLC’s ability to assume the lease obligations and operate a high-quality restaurant and bar for the entire remaining term of the lease. “We had concerns about the proposal, and we provided both High Sierra Grill and Flightline ample opportunity to work with us. But in the end, they were unable to address those concerns,” said Thompson.