These are just the ones we know about—there are undoubtedly even more in the works.
BROAD STREET OYSTER COMPANY
The popular Malibu seafood restaurant has taken over the Cubaneo space at Kim’s Service Department, the multi-tenant space on State Street (Haley/Gutierrez) shared by Shaker Mill and Modern Times. Opening forecast: It just opened.
Elaine and Alberto Morello of the Olio family of restaurants have been hired to run Bedda Mia in the former Mollie’s space at 1218 State Street (Victoria/Anapamu). “Although we’ve always had touches of Sicily throughout our menus and specials at the Olios, the cuisine at Bedda Mia is strictly Sicilian, with an emphasis on seafood and fresh produce-based dishes and Sicilian wines,” says Elaine. “Bedda Mia is Sicilian dialect for ‘Bella Mia’ and is used by Sicilians as a term of endearment towards, say, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend… but also in reference to Sicily itself.” Opening forecast: January.
LITTLE HEART CAFECITO
Corazón Cocina’s Ramon Velazquez is going to have a very busy spring. The first of his three forthcoming endeavors in Santa Barbara will be a small space next to the Corazón flagship in the Santa Barbara Public Market, with coffee (Handlebar is doing a special Mexican-style roast); sweets from Eileen Foster Randall’s La Condesa Baking Company; breakfast tacos and burritos; and Oaxacan hot chocolate. Opening forecast: Soft-opening in mid-January.
HOOK & PRESS
Doughnut maker Hook & Press will have a restaurant—with other breakfast items besides doughnuts—in the former Jeannine’s space at 15 E. Figueroa, in the La Arcada complex. Opening forecast: Unknown, but presumably soon.
Local barbecue caterer Beans BBQ is opening a restaurant at 1230 State Street (Victoria/Anapamu), where Saigon Restaurant currently is. Opening forecast: Planning to soft-open the weekend of Valentine’s Day.
Goodland BBQ will open in the old Alphie’s space in Old Town Goleta. Opening forecast: Shooting for a February soft-opening.
ALMA FONDA FINA
The second new endeavor from Corazón Cocina’s Ramon Velazquez is in the Montecito Country Mart, where Little Alex’s used to be. “Alma” means “soul” in Spanish, and Velazquez says we can expect “soul food, if you will—tacos, soups, enchiladas, and tamales. It’s home cooking.” Opening forecast: Early spring.
MANGIONE’S ITALIAN ICE CO.
After a loooooooooong gestation—during which most of us had written it off as dead—Mangione’s Italian Ice will finally open at 1222 State Street (Victoria/Anapamu). Opening forecast: Spring.
The former Khao Kaeng space on Coast Village Road (to the lower left in the photo below) will become Local’s kitchen, while the space across the courtyard will have a large octagonal bar and tables, and there will be a lot of tables outside. The chef is a vet of Sear in Solvang, and the menu will be 60 percent seafood (including a raw bar). Opening forecast: March.
The third and final endeavor from Corazón’s Ramon Velazquez has been in the works the longest; initially, his plan was to take over the Ca’Dario Pizza space at 29 E. Victoria, but then the landlord offered him the two adjacent spaces, too. Look for different tacos than at Corazón Cocina, including ones made with guisados (braises); tamales; and churros. Opening forecast: Spring.
The mini-chain of hotels has a flagship in San José del Cabo and two in the works—one in Nashville and one at 524 State Street (Cota/Haley). The website says each hotel offers “a limited menu alongside delicious locally inspired drinks.” I emailed to ask whether non-guests are welcome, but I never heard back. Opening forecast: Spring, according to the website, but the exterior looks like it has longer to go.
The building at the northeast corner of State Street and Ortega will be a restaurant and bar from local tequila brand Augie’s. Jeff Shelton is bringing his trademark zest to the design, while the menu will be regional specialties from Mexico. Opening forecast: Spring.
The “retro-swanky” San Diego steakhouse chain will open its third outpost in Corazón Cocina’s former Project space on State Street in the Funk Zone. Look for tufted-leather booths, seafood towers, and meat grilled over an open flame. Opening forecast: Spring.
Here’s the description from one of the founders for the brewery coming to 102 E. Yanonali in the Funk Zone: “Validation Ale will be a fully functioning brewery with all beer brewed on site. Our concept will feature a set of ‘validated’ beers alongside a ‘vying’ or challenger beer menu. If a vying recipe outsells the validated of the same style, it will take over as validated. To bring in some community involvement, we will take ‘vying’ submissions from other brewers (home or pro) if they’re interested in testing their recipe skills against the validated. We also plan to have wine, seltzer, some non-alcoholic options, and to-go as-well. We will absolutely have food—more details to come.” Opening forecast: Memorial Day.
INN AT MATTEI’S TAVERN
Auberge Resorts’s renovation and expansion of the historic Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos into a 67-room resort includes a bunch of food-and-beverage outlets: The Tavern, The Bar, Felix Feed & Coffee, The Shed, and Gin’s Tap Bar. Opening forecast: The hotel is taking reservations as of June 1, so it seems likely that the restaurants and bars will soft-open sooner.
The folks behind the popular Mor Doughnuts pop-ups, as they used to be known, are opening a bakery in the Turnpike Center in Noleta. Opening forecast: Spring, maybe summer.
A branch of Huntington Beach’s SeaLegs mini-chain is taking over the Beachside Bar-Cafe space at Goleta Beach. According to the Independent, we can expect “a focus on California coastal cuisine that’s elevated but not overly expensive, with regionally respectful beer, wine, and spirit selections. They’ll enhance the location’s varied settings—the two bars, the main dining area, the primary patio, and the small rooms that could be rented for small events—and turn the small stand outside into an ice cream shack also serving scaled-down menu options, possibly with to-go cocktails.” Opening forecast: Summer.
BELCHING DRAGON TAVERN
Belching Dragon Tavern, in the former Starbucks space at State and De La Guerra, will be a gastropub with local beers and wines, craft cocktail bar, and what proprietor Mike Sheldon (of the forthcoming Local in Montecito) calls a “gourmet pub menu (raw bar, charcuterie, a mean beef stew, etc).” Opening forecast: Summer.
CORQUE CRAFTHOUSE & KITCHEN
805 Foodie reported that the former Root 246 space in Solvang has been leased by the Crafthouse Group, which has restaurants in San Luis Obispo and Santa Paula: “The new restaurant will feature elevated comfort food [….] Additional features are planned for the roughly 12,000-square-foot site [including] turning the building’s back rooms, previously used for banquets, into a 200-seat, New York–style supper club with live performances, changing menus and, on Sundays, a jazz brunch service.” Opening forecast: Summer.
THE PROJECT FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE KITCHEN
The plan for a restaurant incubator at 530 State Street (Cota) is changing in ways that have yet to be announced, but the end result will still be food-related and categorizable as a restaurant. Opening forecast: Summer at the earliest.
The restaurant at the base of Amazon’s office at State and Carrillo will be the first outpost outside L.A. of Everytable, a chain with the noble mission of “making nutritious, fresh food affordable to all.” To achieve that, it charges more in well-off areas to subsidize meals in poorer communities. The food is standard desk fare—salads, bowls, and wraps, heavy on sliced or diced chicken breast. Opening forecast: In the works since mid-2020, the restaurant got derailed by Covid, and six months ago, it looked like it wouldn’t open at all. Now the company is saying mid-2022.
Construction is underway on the former Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café at 3025 De La Vina (State Street). Opening forecast: Unknown.
SOMETHING’S FISHY JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE & SUSHI BAR
Something’s Fishy used to be at the corner of State and Haley before Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar took it over, and now Something’s Fishy (based in Woodland Hills) is taking it back. But there’s confusion about what the new restaurant will be called: Something’s Fishy Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar (as per Open Table) or Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar by Something’s Fishy (as per Facebook). Either way, expect teppanyaki and sushi. Opening forecast: Unknown.
David Chen has closed his Choppa Poke restaurant at 716 State Street (De La Guerra/Ortega) and applied for a liquor license for a restaurant called Mokutan. It means “charcoal” in Japanese, which leads one to expect cooked food. Opening forecast: Unknown.
Two expected to reopen:
••• LILAC PATISSERIE is expanding into the storefront next door, with will double its indoor dining space and allow for private events. The original half should reopen in February, with the new part to follow.
••• MONTECITO WINE BISTRO (below) has been closed since July for a revamp that was expected to be done by September, but the Pierre Lafond website now says we can expect a spring opening; moreover, the Montecito Wine Bistro Instagram account has been deleted, which leads one to believe the restaurant might be reborn under a new name.
Three in Ojai worth keeping an eye on….
The folks behind the terrific Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica have just opened the restaurant part of the Dutchess in Ojai, with a dinner menu that leans toward India and Burma; still to come is the bakery/café component, with baked goods from Kate’s Bread. Opening forecast: January 19.
At 139 E. Ojai Avenue, sisters Maeve and Rory McAuliffe are opening Rory’s Place, with a raw bar and a wood-fired grill. Opening forecast: Late January.
EL ROBLAR (BELOW)
Eric Goode—of the turtle sanctuary and Tiger King—bought the former Oaks at Ojai spa (before that, it was El Roblar hotel) with Warner Ebbink (Little Dom’s Seafood) and Ramin Shamshiri. They’re renovating the property with the goal of reopening as El Roblar. Brandon Boudet, Ebbink’s partner/chef at Little Dom’s, will be the chef at the hotel’s restaurants. Opening forecast: Unknown.
And farther off on the horizon:
••• The former Casa Blanca and Fit Buddha parts of the ANDALUCIA BUILDING at State and E. Gutierrez (below) are being turned into a complex with a bar; a kitchen; spaces on the floor plan labeled “food vendors, “bakery/coffee/dessert,” and “wine”; 3,400 square feet of seating area; a “lounge”; an outdoor “event area”; a 900-square-foot “display space”; and trellised outdoor seating. On the plans submitted to the city, the owner is listed as Bryan Maroun, who was most recently the general manager of Sunstone Winery; a liquor-license application has yet to show up in the state’s online database.
••• The HOTEL AT 801 STATE STREET (at De La Guerra) is going to have three food-and-beverage outlets; more on the project at a later date.
••• HANDLEBAR COFFEE ROASTERS is trying to turn the sweet little building at Milpas and Anapamu into a café.
••• The ROSEWOOD MIRAMAR BEACH resort filed plans for a third restaurant (fourth, if you count the ice cream shop only open to guests): “a remodel of two of the existing guest rooms in bungalow building #3 into a new resort food-and-beverage restaurant space within the existing building encompassing 1,604 square feet of existing building space and a 288-square-foot patio enclosure.”
••• Sarah Dandona of Omni Catering and Teddy’s by the Sea in Carpinteria bought the former MACKENZIE MARKET (3102 State Street) in San Roque; the word on the street is that she has plans for a restaurant.
••• Former Sushi Bar Montecito chef LENNON SILVERS LEE recently left the restaurant to open his own place, location TBD.
••• SUNSTONE WINERY is working on a glamorous rooftop tasting room in the Funk Zone, atop the SB Biergarten building.
••• A LOCALLY OPERATED TAQUERIA is said to be coming to the former Dunkin’ space at 3771 State Street, near Whole Foods.
••• Something akin to a Finney’s is said to be opening in the FORMER OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE building in Goleta.