Via Vai’s Lease Will Not Be Renewed

••• Yet another big change for Montecito: Via Vai‘s lease is not getting renewed. The restaurant, which opened in the Upper Village in 1994, has through April. Owner Pietro Bernardi says that the landlord wants something more like what you’d find on Coast Village Road. As for Pane e Vino, Bernardi doesn’t know what the future holds, but he hopes to keep the restaurant going, if only for the employees who have been with him for so long. There’s no word yet on a new tenant for the Via Vai space.

••• I heard more from Little Alex’s about the new incarnation aiming to open in the Five Points Shopping Center on upper State Street in March. Much will be the same as it was at the Montecito Country Mart: the restaurant will be counter service, and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But there will be more outdoor seating, and they’re excited to offer local beer on tap. The website has an email signup form for updates.

••• Brunch Monkey, run by the folks behind The Shop on Milpas, is now serving weekend brunch (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at the Handlebar Coffee Roasters on De La Vina. The menu includes a breakfast sandwich, a rolex, salmon toast, avocado toast, chilaquiles, and even a smash burger.

••• Wexler’s Deli says it may have to push its opening back a week. Stay tuned.

••• Cookie Plug‘s grand opening is February 10. It’s on State between Canon Perdido and Carrillo.

••• Montecito Journal‘s cover story is about the new general manager at Lucky’s, Larry Nobles. I was surprised that the only mention of former GM/executive chef Leonard Schwartz—who was at the restaurant since 2007—was in the penultimate paragraph.

••• My husband went to Yetz’s Bagels in Isla Vista as soon as he read about it here, and we both thought they’re rather good—while the inside can be a little bready, the outside has real chew. But don’t take our word for it: “Tried Yetz and it’s amazing!” commented Pete. “Just what we needed!” Maybe the Eddy will start carrying them.

••• Bell’s is trying something new on Thursdays in February: “We will be offering an abbreviated $65 three-course pre-fixe menu (excluding service fee and tax).” This is as opposed to the standard five-course menu for $110, which will also be available. “Starting with our dinner salad and bread and butter course. Then a choice of entree from that night’s menu selections as well as choice of dessert. When you book on Tock you don’t need to note anything—we will be ready for you with both menus.”

••• Montecito’s Casa del Herrero has grown far more active in recent months, hosting events such as a book club, yoga, film screenings, painting workshops, a sound bath, and more. Of special interest: “Casa del Herrero now offers High Tea afternoon luncheons on the Loggia for groups of 8, 16, or 24 people.” I include this because I genuinely think it sounds lovely, not simply because I need to point out that they mean afternoon tea, not high tea. You learn some things working at Town & Country magazine….


Sign up for the Siteline email newsletter for the freshest food news in town.



Yes, I was shocked about the change up at Lucky’s. Felt like the previous manager had been there forever. Lucky’s is full of long time employees and even thought we don’t go a lot we always see familiar faces. Too bad about Via Vai, seemed like a good fit for that location. Still waiting for Ramon’s new place to open in Country Mart. It has been shuttered up tight with no activity the last few times I’ve been over there.

Interesting list of 16 best new restaurants to try in SB on Can’t say I agree with all the choices, but need to check out Gala and go back to Secret Bao.


Look forward to having you at Gala! Ask for me when you get there, I’m there most nights! – Tara

Scott Rosenthal

Can someone kindly put me in touch with the broker that represents the space of Via Vai?

Dori Macias

The property owner where Via Vai is located has made a terrible business decision. Greed or just plain stupidity, take your pick. Now there will be at least four vacancies in the center.

Jefferson A.

I’m always impressed with the keyboard warriors who somehow know all the unpublished details and future plans of a private individual they do not know, so much so they can confidently cast judgement that it’s a “terrible business decision”.


Well Jefferson, this KEYBOARD WARRIOR does know the owner of the property. And I know based on a first hand, yes, a conversation I was a part of, that my comment is spot on.
So Jeff, before you tangle with this KEYBOARD WARRIOR, you need to be first hand informed before you respond to comments. Now you have a good day!!

Jefferson A.

Then please enlighten us on why it was a terrible decision.

Meredith Brace

Always appreciate this newsletter, thank you so much Erik Torkells. Love reading about the restaurants and dream of something someday opening on the Westside! Hoped something would pop up at the old Ray’s Liquor…


For 30 years Via Vai has been our favorite restaurant. Family owned with delicious food and no pretense, and filled with an inviting neighborhood vib. While Coast Village Rd has turned into a tourist destination, the Upper Village has always felt it belongs to us locals. What’s happened with Via Vai loosing its lease is a huge mistake and not the direction we want for Montecito. Let’s hope Pane e Vino stays.

Susan Keller

We’ve been able to walk around the corner to Via Vai for our 30 years of living here. It’s been our go-to family restaurant. We are personally devastated by its closure and deeply saddened by what it represents regarding the direction in which Montecito is going.


I’d sign a petition to keep Via Vai open and to boycott any business that takes its place.

Yasmin Z Lawrence

I’d sign that petition too. Viva Via Vai!


Thank you, Erik!! Being of British decent, I greatly appreciate you pointing out that High Tea is not the formal service most people think it is. The formal tea is Afternoon Tea served in mid-afternoon with tea sandwiches, scones and clotted cream and petit fours, whereas High Tea is the evening meal with more common dinner foods. Now, if we can only get people to understand the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie! Cheers!


Via Vai closing will be the last nail in the coffin of old Montecito. Its a shame for Via Vai, and a bigger shame for the community and what it is becoming.

Cliff Ghersen

Jason, I agree with your sentiments. Please email me in regards to local opposition to Caruso’s plans for a lux shopping mall and apt complex at the MIramar!!

Comments are closed.