High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer title=
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer
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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.

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Lucky 777 Aug 21, 2019 10:18 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Remember how you used to be able to go up into the old airport building and eat, either while waiting for a flight or just to watch the planes??? Now you have to go past security to reach the "restaurant." That was another government poor choice, once again limiting our options. A good coffee shop with that view could succeed again.

a-1568543426 Aug 21, 2019 08:56 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

The better plan, which is in the Approved Master Plan for the airport is to level that area for more plane ramp space. The Fixed Based Operators (FBOs) will need this space because of the move of both of them to that area. The city made this deal a few years ago when cash was tight at the airport.

El Barbareno Aug 21, 2019 08:56 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

The City needs business people on the council that understand the reality of a business. dollar. The 25-year lease was exceptionally stupid - both for the owner that agreed to it and the city for proposing it. How many real restaurants (i.e. not fast food) last 25 years in this community? (Yes, I know Joe's, Cajun Kitchen there are a few, but very few make it even five years.).

Factotum Aug 21, 2019 08:46 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Willing sellers did not find willing buyers. Hard to refute the animal spirits of capitalism at any level. Even corporate welfare at taxpayers expense - a year of free rent - did not alter the animal spirts of a business that failed to find sufficient willing customers. How far did they deviate from the former Elephant Bar format?

a-1568543426 Aug 21, 2019 08:30 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

High Grill will be missed for its service to the community providing group meeting space, in addition to being a fun place to eat when awaiting airport arrivals or departures. Thanks to the current owners and staff for their dedication and long hours trying to make High Grill Restsurant a success. You’ll be missed!

a-1568543426 Aug 21, 2019 08:13 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Target, Good & Gather, is Target's new grocery brand, announced Monday. Lots of organic food, and prepared salads, pastas. Word on the street is they are competing head-on with Amazon’s Whole Foods, beginning Sept. 15. Goleta Target (opening in October) will be stocked with the new offerings! Hoping for quality, and good prices. Target opens at 8am daily.

Icre84U Aug 21, 2019 07:36 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Why is it private sector leases for commercial storefront type property around here are often written in terms of 1, 3, or 5 years with renewal options while government sector leases tend to be written around 25 or more years? “Real-world” private sector leases may also be tied to customary & accepted “triple net” terms which if structured correctly help both sides against unforeseen changes in market conditions. If the tenant is happy, they will execute the renewal option when the time comes; if not walk away. Yes, there are defaults and lurches but for the most part the shorter lease terms provide for constant self-correction against the market and opportunity for re-negotiation. 25 Year leases imply that either 1) the government expects the tenant to invest substantial sums in property improvements and needs time to earn a proper payback; or 2) lack of management capacity (or will) to manage higher velocity renewal cycles. I’m not privy to the lease terms (it should be a public document?) but in my experience a tenant’s right to sublease without unreasonable landlord delay is a critical term. And a 25 year term for a start-up restaurant is ridiculous.

CoastWatch Aug 21, 2019 06:58 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Whether or not the food was good or bad is not the issue ... City Airport Admin heads should roll, but they won't. There is no accountability on these mismanaged City government positions. This mismanagement situation can't be duplicated in the private sector as it wouldn't be tolerated...

PitMix Aug 21, 2019 01:57 PM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Trump and his multiple bankruptcies, Liberty Mutual bringing their associates to the Bacara and renting out the sunken gardens, Madoff and his Ponzi schemes, there are plenty of examples of corporate poor decision-making that have been richly rewarded. I know it is popular to take whacks at guvmint inefficiency but it seems to be a more universal condition than that.

dacusewon Aug 21, 2019 12:52 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

i worked there at nights last year and saw the saw the manager screaming and firing a waitress in front of all the patrons,and his language was not fit for the family hour,it wasnt a very happy place to be or work.

a-1568543426 Aug 20, 2019 11:19 PM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

No Plan for the Future. The City has few jobs above low wage planned for the future. They area based on tourism or healthcare. The City has no leadership or vision. The idea of "economic development" is to bypass requirements and plan "block parties" for the Downtown. With no leadership we get straw bans, Indigenous People's Day, free rent for use of public land and giveaways for developers that cause parking, noise and other problems. Locals need to jump ship or do something before it is too late.

Factotum Aug 21, 2019 08:50 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

This is a college town - and a government bureaucrat town. Those are the biggest employers, all depending on tax dollars, not tourism or healthcare (also tax dollar funded). You created an economy based solely on increasing tax revenues: public higher education and government workers obtaining very high salaries and benefits. No wonder their unions support candidates who will ensure this gravy train still runs at maximum efficiency.

a-1568543426 Aug 20, 2019 11:01 PM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

Apparently, the better interest of Santa Barbara is to have (another) vacant building. I will look forward to seeing who signs a 25-year lease for that particular space. Santa Barbara remains a difficult place to do business. Well done director Thompson.

SBLocalGal Aug 21, 2019 12:29 PM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

It was horrible food. I work nearby and there is a lot of business to be had for any decent restaurant in this area, especially during the lunch hour. But I don't know a single person that liked it. I'm all for supporting local restaurants but not if they can't provide quality food/service.

monkeyboy Aug 21, 2019 08:45 AM
High Sierra Grill Set to Close as Airport Denies Lease Transfer

It has always been horrible, even back in the EBar days...it served a unique purpose as one of the only large restaurants in Goleta for years. Now that there are several, better options, the City needs to work hard with the next owner to make it a success...hobbling them with a 25 year lease out of the gate is not how to do that.

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