By Lauren Bray, edhat staff
Two local eateries will be featured on national television and the Natural Cafe’s downtown location will close citing untenable conditions on State Street.
Let’s dive in.
Natural Cafe Closes Downtown Location Due to State Street Issues
After 30 years at 508 State Street, the health-focused eatery Natural Cafe will close in March 2023 after the lease expires.
Owner Kelly Brown penned an open letter to the landlord, Jim Snell of SIMA Corp, stating things have taken an “extreme turn for the worst the last few years.”
He cited the increase in homelessness creating a criminal environment of flagrant drug use, outdoor defecation, aggressive panhandling, camping, and misusing their restrooms on a daily basis.
“The rat/vermin problem, which starts with the city and their lack of any program to address this has, in the last few years, become intolerable. Look under any parklet and you will find rats nests. Food is just falling on them from above,” Brown stated.
Other than being rat infested, Brown states the parklets were a good alternative for a while but now they diminish the beauty of State Street and should be removed.
The Natural Cafe still has its location on Hitchcock Way, another in Goleta, and others throughout Southern California.
Los Alamos Resturant Featured on CBS Morning Show
CBS Morning Show featured Bell’s in Los Alamos on Saturday morning interviewing Food & Wine “Best New Chef” and Santa Ynez Valley native Daisy Ryan with her husband Greg.
The family-run bistro opened in early 2018 at 406 Bell Street, the former home of Bell Street Farm, in the town’s old bank building.
The menu is French-inspired, or “Franch style” to the owners, featuring Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, vegetables and fruit from Finley Farms, and Wild Burgundy Snails, all of which helped earn them one Michelin star.
Check out their menus here.
Brass Bear to Take Over Le Cafe Stella
Adieu Le Cafe Stella (courtesy photo)
Le Cafe Stella closed its doors last month after 22 years. The local’s hideaway at 3302 McCaw Ave will be taken over by the popular Funk Zone brewery Brass Bear.
“We thank our staff for their dedication and hard work in making Le Cafe Stella so successful over the years. We will miss all of your familiar faces and remember all the events and gatherings held at Le Cafe Stella,” wrote owner Philippe Rousseau.
The Brass Bear Team, headed by couple Lindsay and Seth Anderson, said it brings joy to their hearts to think about all the baby showers, rehearsal dinners, and birthdays hosted at Le Cafe Stella over the years and they hope to carry on the tradition.
“Full details of the menu and hours of operation are still to be decided but rest assured you will see some familiar faces when we open back up as Brass Bear. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments at email@example.com,” the wrote in a note to the Restaurant Guy.
New Tequila Bar Opens on State Street
In the building that always seemed to be under construction comes a new restaurant/bar by Chris Chiarappa, the guy behind Lighthouse Coffee, Mesa Burger, Corner Tap, and other ventures in the works.
Augie’s Tequila is now open at 700 State Street, the former home of Panera Bread, Ma Dolce Vita, and Left at Albuquerque.
The restaurant features a wide selection of agave beverages, craft cocktails, and unique spirits and wines. The food, led by Chef Eduardo Gonzalez, features three types of moles, octopus, and oysters as well as traditional Mexican fare.
Learn more at augiessb.com
Vega Vineyard & Farm Opens at Historic Rancho La Vega
Hospitality entrepreneurs, Karen and Jimmy Loizides opened Vega Vineyard & Farm last month. The working winery, farm, and event venue, located on historic land most recently home to Mosby Winery & Vineyards, has been renamed “Vega” in honor of the ranch’s initial identity, Rancho La Vega.
Vega Vineyard & Farm started life as Rancho La Vega in 1853, when Dr. Roman de la Cuesta, the first doctor in the Santa Ynez Valley, and his wife Michaela Cota, the daughter of Francisco Cota of neighboring Rancho Santa Rosa, constructed the property’s original 13-room adobe house along the south bank of the Santa Ynez River. Dr. Roman de la Cuesta, known as Don Roman, was born in Spain and arrived in California in 1849. When he married Micaela Cota, he was gifted Rancho La Vega as part of her dowry. The couple’s son, Don Eduardo, lived and grew wine grapes on the land for many years with his wife, Eleva Pollard, a granddaughter of Captain William Henry Dana and great-granddaughter of Carlos Antonio Carrillo, patriarch of Santa Barbara’s Carrillo family. Don Eduardo de la Cuesta would become instrumental in getting Highway 101 routed through Buellton in 1927, and a portion of an original Highway 101 bridge still exists on the Vega Vineyard and Farm property.
The 212-acre property comprises 21 acres of vineyards, currently covered in Italian varietals, as well as a winery and tasting room. The tasting room, situated in a barn which was once the land’s circa-1880s carriage house, joins the likes of other historical structures on the ranch including the original adobe home, dating back to 1853, which continues to greet guests with a new garden and VIP area. Sitting atop one of the highest points of the mountainous parcel of land, a 216-square-foot adobe-style chapel, built in 2014 with pews salvaged from an Ohio church. The chapel is adorned with stained-glass windows and an expansive outdoor patio with endless views of the Santa Ynez Valley. A newly-constructed barn, organic farm and farm stand will soon offer produce from Vega Farm as well as other produce and baked goods.
“This property has an incredible, tangible history, and such energy of its own. But it was in need of some love, and we are overjoyed at the chance to be the people who inject new life into this important place,” said Jimmy Loizides.
The next phases of Vega Vineyard and Farm include the introduction of an event series, such as outdoor concerts, as well as the evolution of the property’s private event menus and offerings. Learn more at vegavineyardandfarm.com
Checo’s Opens in Isla Vista
A new Mexican restaurant, Checo’s in Isla Vista, opened earlier this month at 6578 Trigo Road. The former home of a gazillion previous things but most notably Mojo and Cafe International.
The cuisine is Central Mexican, according to the owners, and everything is made from scratch. Including a tortilla machine to ensure every tortilla is fresh.
The owners also have another restaurant in Santa Ana named Checo’s Bar & Grill.
Little Dom’s Seafood Brings Back Deep-Fried Turkey for Thanksgiving
Little Dom’s Seafood is bringing back its Deep-Fried Turkey Thanksgiving tradition for the second year in a row.
Available for pre-order beginning on November 1st at 10:00am, Little Dom’s Seafood’s co-owner and executive chef, Brandon Boudet, will offer his deep-fried turkeys and holiday side dishes with take-out. In addition, Pastry Chef Ann Kirk will be offering a scrumptious spread of desserts to complete the perfect Thanksgiving feast.
A 12-14 pound deep-fried turkey will feed six to eight people and runs $100. Side dishes include roasted brussel sprouts, homemade fennel sausage and mushroom stuffing, yam puree with coconut cream and toasted pecans, and more. Dessert offerings feature twists on pumpkin cheesecake, apple crisp, and gelato.
To view the full menu, click here. A festive selection of assorted cocktails and wines will also be available for pre-order.
Orders can be placed by calling (805) 749-7400. All orders will be ready for pickup on Thanksgiving morning. When picking up their order, guests can enjoy complementary spiked coffee while watching dozens of turkeys be deep-fried in the restaurant’s parking lot.
[Ed Note: An earlier version of this article featured The Blue Owl filming for a television show. At the request of The Blue Owl’s owners, that section has been removed until a formal announcement can be made.]