••• L. asked me to look into the 4.7% “entertainment district fee” that showed up on her bill at the Cruisery the other night. (Someone else posted a photo on Yelp.) The restaurant didn’t respond to requests for an explanation, but the menu does mention a 5% “covid recovery surcharge,” which appears to be the fee in question. (There’s certainly no neighborhood-wide fee going on). This is just one more way a business—it happens with hotels, airfares, and much more—can charge more than the displayed price, because too many of us will balk at higher prices, even though the cost of doing business has gone up. On one hand, at least you’re warned on the menu; on the other hand, you’re unlikely to spot it before you’ve already been seated. Many restaurants often call it a service charge, but then, of course, the money has to go to the staff—presumably not the case at the Cruisery. (I might be more concerned about the management reserving the right to charge an amount different from what’s on the menu!)
••• If you didn’t read the recent roundup of 28 forthcoming restaurants, you should: there’s new info in there, including details about Alma Fonda Fina, the Corazón Cocina–related restaurant opening at the Montecito Country Mart; and Kin Bakeshop, from the founders of More Doughnuts. And here’s #29, which I didn’t know about: a restaurant called We Want the Funk says it’s opening in the Funk Zone this year. All we know at this point is that it has a zesty retro logo. I’m hoping the owner(s) will tease us with a bit more info…. Update: I heard back from the WWTF folks: “We are Ted Ellis & Greer Ellis, former owner & creators of Oku, and this is our second venture in the Funk Zone. Wine & beer on tap, wood burning oven with seasonal flatbreads & bbq oysters will be the mainstays on the menu. Great music, and great service. Our neighbor who is sharing half of the space with us is the tasting room for La Lieff Wines. An exciting female-owned wine (Gretchen Lieff of Montecito) and female wine maker.” It’ll be at 210 Gray Ave., near Mollusk, and they hope to open soon.
••• And Peasants Deli, a spinoff of Peasants Feast in Solvang, is having its grand opening on January 27.
••• Less exciting, there have been a bunch of closures. In case you missed the update, Embermill closed on Sunday because of an insupportable rent increase.
••• Goleta Coffee Company is closing on February 16. —Restaurant Guy. Update from Stacy of Goleta Coffee Company: “Goleta Coffee Co. is indeed closing on February 15, but Loca Vivant Kitchen will continue in a new wholesale location. We will still be making all of our gluten-free and vegan baked goods and breads, and we will continue to offer healthy prepared foods made from locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. There will be pick-up and delivery options during the couple of months that it takes for our transition to wholesale, and then we will be collaborating small business retail partners to offer our items in many more places around town. We will be hosting a party on our last day in business (Feb 15) and will be using all proceeds from that day toward severance pay for all of our amazing employees. Please stop by and pay us a visit on Feb 15, and as many times as you can between now and then!”
••• Yelp Central Coast and I think Goodland Dining may be closed for good; the website is down and the space was dark the other afternoon. (On the other hand, Google says it’s “temporarily closed.”) It opened last August in the former Goodland Kitchen in Old Town Goleta.
••• Trader Joe’s is looking at two possible locations for a second Goleta store. —Restaurant Guy
••• The Independent profiles the “Abdulaziz Family Serving Middle Eastern Eats at Santa Ynez Billiards & Café.”
••• Noozhawk has more on Goodland BBQ, opening in Old Town Goleta. From chef Tony Bones: “My approach to the menu will be to apply what I’ve learned in my travels and marry them with our 805 culture Texas-inspired barbecue, with 805 flavor. Our tagline is, ‘Smokey good vibes.'”
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