Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

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Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going
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Hoffmann Brat Haus (Photo: Facebook)

By Lauren Bray, edhat staff

This past week edhat readers have submitted numerous emails about local restaurants closing in the downtown area. While some restaurants are saying goodbye, others are shaking things up to stay competitive.

Let's start with the sad news and end on a happy note.


Hoffmann Brat Haus

Locally owned family restaurant Hoffmann Brat Haus announced they are closing their doors. The Bavarian-style restaurant served a variety of interesting sausages and bratwurst as well as numerous European beers. 

On August 15, the restaurant announced on Instagram they will be closing their doors. "State Street is not what it was just two years ago. We can no longer sustain the restaurant," the post read. 

Hoffmann Brat Haus opened their doors in Paseo Nuevo in 2013. As Paseo Nuevo undergoes a big renovation, The Independent reports new State Street housing is set to replace the brat haus building.

The Little Door

(Photo: The Little Door / Facebook)

The Little Door has... well, shut its door.

The French-Mediterranean restaurant opened in 2017 at 129 E. Anapamu Street across from the Sunken Gardens, a location that many locals feel is cursed. Numerous restaurants have come and gone from that area but few have managed to stay more than a few years. Elements, The French Table, and the Piano Riviera Lounge all tried to make a go of it. 

On July 2 the restaurant announced on Instagram "due to necessary kitchen improvements and restructuring" they will be closed for two weeks. However, John Palminteri reports they are closed for good and have sold some of their furniture to Embermill which opens on Friday (more below).

Les Marchands

(Photo: Les Marchands / Facebook)

The Funk Zone restaurant featuring Mediterranean dishes with intricate cocktails and a high-brow wine shop is set to close and make way for a new concept by the same owners.

Matt Kettmann of The Independent detailed Les Marchands journey since its 2013 opening. The restaurant is located at 131 Anacapa Street behind Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. It's owned by Acme Hospitality who also owns The Lark, Santa Barbara Wine Collective, Helena Avenue Bakery, Tyger Tyger, and Loquita. So, I think they'll be just fine.

They're currently scheduled to host "Follies: A Drag Brunch" on Sunday, August 25 as the conclusion of Santa Barbara's week-long LGBTQ Pride events and another event on September 10, which is scheduled to be their last day.

Giovanni's Pizza on the Mesa

(Photo: Giovanni's Pizza / Facebook)

And then there was one. Giovanni's Pizza had numerous locations throughout Santa Barbara's south coast at its peak, but now they are down to their final location at 3020 State Street. 

Their Mesa pizzeria at 1905 Cliff Drive shut down earlier this month. A simple message on their website reads "Our Mesa location is now closed. We thank the wonderful community of Santa Barbara for all the business over the years." 

There's no word yet on what business will take over the location.

New Things!

Embermill to Open Friday on State Street

The former location of Aldo's at 1031 State Street is being renovated for a new restaurant named Embermill. 

Chef Harold Welch is behind the new concept that is slated to serve up "Carribean food with a Santa Barbara twist." Jamaican Jerk chicken, catfish and soft shell crab po' boy sandwiches, and fried okra are on the menu.

Welch also runs the Solvang restaurant Hummingbird. Embermill is scheduled to open on Friday, August 23 for breakfast and lunch, according to their website.

This is also the former home of the historic Copper Coffee Pot, as many edhat readers have lamented in the comment section. Aldo's was also in this location for quite a while so it could mean good things for Welch.

[An edhat reader shared links to photos of the historic Copper Coffee Pot in 1927. See the interior here and the street view here.]

Oppi'z Takes Over Former Palazzio Space

(Photo: Oppi'z / Facebook)

Now look across the street to the former home of Palazzio at 1026 State Street and you'll find a new restaurant named Oppi'z.

The Italian eatery describes itself as a "modern, nonconventional healthy food concept rooted in the tradition of the Italian cuisine and the 'Slow-food' manifesto." Owner Guido Oppizzi is aiming to reinterpret the traditional concept of the pizzeria. According to their website, he designed a unique menu with a variety of gourmet pizzas and a selection of fresh, light and healthy dishes.

A signature dishes include "Black Rice Bottles," which I can honestly say I've never seen before. The description is in the name, it appears to be a clear hollowed out glass bottle filled with rice and toppings.

The restaurant is currently open, let me know how the bottle rice tastes. 

Mosto Crudo Expands Menu and Chops Off Crudo

Mosto Crudo has changed its name to simply Mosto, or more specifically Mosto Wine Bar & Tapas, as their menu expands to more than just raw foods. 

At 7 West Haley Street, Chef Tiziano Fioretti and manager Alejandra Garcia introduced a new dinner menu including Truffle Risotto with Taleggio cheese and Microgreens as well as homemade Cacio e Pepe served straight from a Pecorino cheese wheel (pictured above).

They're also offering brunch on Sundays through the end of September. Learn more on their website and check out my previous restaurant review here.

The Project Combines Tacos and Beer

Photo: The Project SB

The Project opened up less than a month ago at 214 State Street, the former home of Union Ale and numerous other things. 

The founders of Santa Barbara’s Corazon Cocina and Captain Fatty’s collaborated on this "project" by completely renovating the space. The massive remodel took the building down to its studs (see it here) before opening on July 26. 

Corazon Cocina still has its original location in the Public Market at 38 W. Victoria Street and Captain Fatty's brewery is located at 6483 Calle Real in Goleta.

Half of the building is dedicated to Corazon Cocina's menu of tacos, tostadas, and even an octopus burger. They also serve up a variety of cocktails, beer, and wine. The other half of the building is more of a taproom focused on Captain Fatty's brewery selection as well as including cider, wine, and craft beers from other breweries.

The advantage this place has over other combo style eateries and bars is they share the space, meaning patrons don't have to stay in a designated area where the beverage/food was purchased to consume it. Learn more at

Lauren is a member of the dedicated staff of She enjoys food and beverages but refuses to capture photos of fancy food for her Instagram page.

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a-1566505712 Aug 22, 2019 01:28 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Ed can you add these? Really cool old photos on UCSB's website of the Copper Coffee Pot. ........ ..........

Red Creek Aug 22, 2019 01:48 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Part of the problem with sit down restaurants in general is the price. Very difficult to go out to dinner for two for under $40 (without alcohol; add $20 with drinks) , and for lunch for two, $30 (again without alcohol). The relatively cheap offerings in the fast food industry lure hungry workers and tourists away. Rising rents and wages must make it very difficult to offer good food and good service. Also, consumer tastes are changing due to health concerns. Some of us are avoiding red meats and high carb offerings in order to avoid joining those in the epidemic of heart and gastro diseases, including diabetes.

biguglystick Aug 23, 2019 09:53 AM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Agreed! Santa Barbara needs more HEALTHY and affordable restaurant choices. When the rents are so out of the stratosphere we get slim pickings or only shi-shi hoity-toity expensive places to choose from. I want quality and affordability... (without a dumb name LOL.) is that too much to ask for?

a-1566515223 Aug 22, 2019 04:07 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Can't fathom why restauranteurs name their restaurants something most people can't relate to or pronounce correctly (e.g., "OPPI'Z). @ Lauren, re: Embermill: ". . . who opens on Friday." For future reference, it would be " . . . which opens on Friday."

Alexblue Aug 22, 2019 04:34 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Just got back from a couple of weeks in a very expensive city in Europe considered a culinary destination.

It was cheaper than Santa Barbara to eat out.

Honestly, I was shocked, everyone told me, oh you're going there, well be ready because it's so expensive.

Cheaper. Than. Santa. Barbara.

Fancy restaurant was easily forty percent cheaper--and yeah, probably better, and definitely better service than one often receives here in SB. Cheap places--probably also about forty percent cheaper.

I've been in this bubble paying these prices for so long that, I don't know, I guess I started to think it was simply the norm. It's not. No wonder so many restaurants in this town fold so quickly.

a-1566529872 Aug 22, 2019 08:11 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Sorry but I lived in Europe for years (recently, not in like the 1970s when fresh vegetables were unavailable 9 month supply out of the year) and despite the storied reputation, food in Europe basically sucks. Any American who has lived in a culinary capital like New York (which I also did, for over a decade) can tell you food in Europe is generally subpar. Santa Barbara has excellent food. You must not know where to get it. From cheap eats to some of our higher end restaurants to our numerous farmers markets, besides LA or NYC, it doesn’t get much better than this. And I wouldn’t trade living here for NY or LA. We’ve got great food and if you’re still convinced Europe is better, try living there. I guarantee you you will change your mind. And you will definitely miss the hell out of Mexican food.

Alexblue Aug 22, 2019 08:38 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

240--it's all a bit subjective, isn't it. You may not like the food I like, I may not like the food you like. The particular area that I was in is considered one of the great current culinary hot spots of the planet--but I guess you know that the food sucks there, despite not knowing where "there" is. Beyond that, yap, yap, yap, I am at the Farmers' Market twice a week and I eat all over town, and, in my subjective experience, the quality and flavors of the food where I was was better and I can tell you that it was definitely cheaper. I am looking at relocating there, actually, so thanks for your support.

Factotum Aug 22, 2019 09:38 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

8:11PM - How can all vegetables in Europe be "fresh" when they are out of season nine months out of the year or are shipped in from some greenhouse thousands of miles away?

biguglystick Aug 23, 2019 09:49 AM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Blame the landlords and the rent standards in this town for the expensive prices. Also the City... they make it damned near impossible to open a family business here. Unless you are wealthy.

mm1970 Aug 23, 2019 10:25 AM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

That's interesting. We just got back from two weeks in Europe, but probably not a destination known for their dining. We found Copenhagen dining out to be more expensive than Santa Barbara, but groceries were comparable. Our relatives visited SB part of the time that we were there, and they were quite happy with restaurant/ takeout prices here compared to there. Of course, serving sizes here are a lot larger, so they could share burritos, for example.

a-1566517106 Aug 22, 2019 04:38 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

A “gantlet” is a flogging ordeal, literally or figuratively. A person may run a gantlet. ... Someone forced to “run the gantlet” was made to run between parallel lines of his colleagues, who would hit him with clubs or switches as he passed. A “gauntlet” (French word) was a heavy, armored glove worn by a knight.

a-1566519691 Aug 22, 2019 05:21 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Boooooo, you're the worst. These words are used interchangeably now. It's no longer Ol' English rules. .... Gauntlet: an open challenge.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 22, 2019 05:02 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

We are very lucky to have so many fool-hearted restaurateurs ply their trade in our little city. 8/10 fail in the first year but we get to enjoy an endless array of new dishes drinks and places and styles. Its a great place to be a foodie but a terrible town to run a business, especially a restaurant.

Factotum Aug 22, 2019 08:57 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Is the new "ag" industry Santa Barbara expecting an attack of Millennial-fueled munchies, that warrants so many new restaurants on the block?

RHS Aug 23, 2019 08:27 AM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

These knee jerk defenses of Santa Barbara restaurants and service are trying. Sort of "my country right or wrong" approach. As noted by others, Santa Barbara restaurants are not only expensive for what offer but the attitude of the servers and hosts is often hostile. Most of them treat dinners as tourists who need to be moved on as fast as possible to make room for more tourists. They generally think they are entitled to 20% gratuity even when they ignore or delay in meeting service requests. I have dined across the US and across Europe and in many South American and South Pacific lands. Compared to these experiences, all of Southern California (things do get better north of SLO) is a wasteland for nice food adventures. So many of these continually changing restaurants seem only to be engaging in hiring contractors and writing off some sort of tax gimmick.

a-1566589921 Aug 23, 2019 12:52 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Methinks thou dost protest too much about... well, nothing at all. 20% gratuity entitlement? After you're handed the bill how do they communicate their entitlement I wonder... delay bringing the doggie bag? Won't refill your water glass or iced tea?

RHS Aug 23, 2019 02:26 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

12:52 pm: The system actually includes gratuity sometimes without your knowledge. I have added gratuity on top of gratuity without the server stopping me. And, where did the idea come from that a tip should be automatic with parties of "six or more" for example? They include suggested tips on the final bill that start with 15%. Why do we need "suggestions" for the tip? And it used to be, when meal prices were much less, that 10% was the starting point. Etc.

mm1970 Aug 23, 2019 10:22 AM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

I'm also bummed - they were a great supporter of our local schools. I couldn't eat anything on their menu (can't eat gluten), but we appreciated their school support just the same.

GeneralTree Aug 23, 2019 10:04 AM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Too many working class people and not enough affordable housing or affordable places to eat out. Property choose to leave businesses empty rather than lower enormous rents. Get used to it, the recession is already here.

Flicka Aug 23, 2019 04:55 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

SB used to have restaurants that stayed for many years, ones for everyone's taste. An excellent one was "Talk of the Town", today would likely get a 4 or 5 star rating. The Somerset in Montecito, El Paseo, the Copper Coffee Pot (there for generations). Farmer Boy is still going, we took our kids there often in the 1960s when we lived nearby.

tagdes Aug 23, 2019 07:40 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Farmer Boy is the name only, completely gutted and rebuilt, new owner, new menu and almost all new employees. Petrini's, Harry's, Chuck's and even though they moved, Joe's, still has the original bar. All over 50 years.

a-1566619088 Aug 23, 2019 08:58 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

I have so many great family memories from nights at Talk of the Town. My Grandfather always took our family there for dinner the night before he would fly back home. I have so many pictures from inside the restaurant. Miss them too

EastBeach Aug 23, 2019 08:28 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Speaking of the Little Door and Elements, anyone remember when it was Irene's? My aunt would take me there for cream puffs and eclairs when I was a wee tyke.

a-1566619888 Aug 23, 2019 09:11 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Yes. Let's now talk days gone by restaurants that we all loved: Ruth and Rogers. Their rhubarb pie. Or even House of Pies. Peanut butter pie. Oooh. The Somerset. Bacon-wrapped shrimp and awesome buttermilk dressing. Carl's Steak House for onion rings. Joe's Cafe for their French Dip. (I know Joe's is still there, but is it really what it used to be?) Oh. But Copper Coffee Pot did have the most magnificent Strawberry pie. Miguel's in I.V. had the best flautas. Piatti's in Montecito had the best French bread dip (olive oil, garlic, etc) and terrific ravioli. Chase Bar and Grill with that delicious fish soup thing. And Palazzio's for monster servings of pasta with those tasty garlic rolls. Ooh. Best stop now.

a-1567035447 Aug 28, 2019 04:37 PM
Restaurant Gauntlet: Who's Coming and Going

Is it State Street's fault or was Brat Haus offered a good deal to get out of their lease?
Brat Haus said: "State Street is not what it was just two years ago. We can no longer sustain the restaurant". On NoozHawk, Barret Reed, a founding partner for Miramar Group said “We worked out a deal with Brat Haus and the other tenants on the property to end their leases early,” (Miramar Group, said he is working with the property owner to redevelop the property with two residential apartments)

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