Iconic Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant in Buellton Closes for “Redevelopment”

Pea Soup Andersen's restaurant in Buellton (Google Street View)

The iconic Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant in Buellton has abruptly closed for “redevelopment.”

The “Home of the Split Pea Soup” at 376 Avenue of Flags off Highway 101 would have been open for 100 years this coming June.

The restaurant’s billboards up and down the Central Coast have delighted motorists for decades with vintage cartoons.

Milt Guggia Enterprises Inc., located in Santa Maria, purchased the Buellton restaurant in 1999 and the Santa Nella location in 2007.

The company is currently in escrow with an unnamed buyer. It’s unclear if the restaurant will reopen under the same name or a completely new concept.

The big sign outside of town.
Billboard for Pea Soup Andersen’s along Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County (courtesy)

The adjacent Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn, which has a different owner than the restaurant, remains open and looks forward to what the future holds for their Buellton neighbor.

“Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn has a rich history within the Santa Ynez Valley dating back to its establishment in 1969 by the original owners, Daryl Nielsen and Vince Evans,” representatives of the Inn stated. “The hotel is still managed by the Nielsen family, who have dedicated 55 years to maintaining the high standards and traditions of Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn.”

Pea Soup Andersen’s of Santa Nella, along Interstate 5, will also remain open.

Danish immigrant Anton Andersen purchased a piece of land and building in 1924 to open a restaurant. He and his wife, Juliette, opened a tiny restaurant and named it “Andersen’s Electric Cafe,” in honor of their prized possession, a new electric stove.

Arial shot of old Buelton
Historic photo of Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton, date unknown (courtesy)

They served “simple, wholesome everyday foods” like hot cakes, coffee, and ice cream sodas to highway travelers. Their first customers were the salesmen, tourists and truck drivers who drove the main highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the restaurant’s website.

In 1928, the Andersen’s sank a well and built a hotel and dining room. But the real expansion came when Juliette made her popular split pea soup.

Originally from eastern France and an expert cook, Juliette prepared many of the recipes she had brought when moving to the United States. The most popular with the customers was her split pea soup.

“Just three years after the first bowl was served, they were amazed to realize they needed to order ONE TON of peas! When Anton faced the problem of what to do with one ton of peas, he solved it by putting them in the window, proclaiming the restaurant, ‘The Home of Split Pea Soup,'” the website states.

The dining room in the early years.
The original dining room of Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton, date unknown (courtesy)

Last February, the restaurant suffered a kitchen fire during the late night hours. A motorist passing by noticed flames coming from the kitchen area and called the fire department.

The restaurant reopened for the remainder of the year until closing its doors on January 1, 2024 with a green sign on the door that reads “temporarily closed for redevelopment.”

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. We would stop by on the way home from Nacimiento because our dad thought it was good.
    I still wouldn’t like it.
    SB surfer is right, so say hello to another Hotel or some greater use.
    Tourists or stack and pack housing really won’t matter .
    Beulton needs to build another on/off ramp.

  2. My Dad was an actual “traveling salesman” and sometimes we would get to go on his “trips”… He always stopped with us @ Anderson’s Pea Soup back in the late 60’/70’s… I have gone since and found that you had to order the pea soup with ham to make it really good. They had great breakfasts and sandwiches too. Last on the iconic “coffee shops”- I hope the Madonna Inn doesn’t fall on the same fate.

  3. Great article and photos and comments.

    I used to stop there when going north – when the wine cellar was open and serving sample shots of wines and brandy? but i had thought it closed over covid. or before? or it never reopened. or when in the area, would pick up soup and bread sticks To Go for the neighbors. but the last few times up that way and go to Ellens Cafe across the street, the site looked closed up. no cars in parking lot. and i was puzzled when see an OPEN sign on the west side street. assumed it meant the motel. nothing about the restaurant being open.

    Not even see a clown waving they open, nor an air sign, nor a pickup with signage. Probably banned?

    Plis i not see any ads in the AV Press for years. nor any TV news stories on reopening after covid. doubt they did the sidewalk or outdoor seating strategy.

    the funny thing is that my Italian widow neighbor made me
    some home made pea soup lat month, but she never heard of Pea Soup Andersons. or she not buy canned foods. old school. and never travelled to Buelton or on the 101 Hwy.

    and i figure someone took down all the signs from the 101
    long time ago.


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