Deli owners restore 1940s Santa Barbara cocktail lounge
Make that four pickles.
The father-and-son team behind Three Pickles Deli + Sub in downtown Santa Barbara have bought a next-door business and are revamping the classic cocktail lounge, even bringing back a former bartender and historic sign.
The new spot, named The Pickle Room, will have a grand opening on Oct. 5. It is located at 126 E. Canon Perdido St.
Bob Lovejoy, the father in the duo behind the new venture, is a longtime Santa Barbara business owner. In 1975, he opened contracting business Lovejoy Design. After work he would head to Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, the original restaurant and bar at the location, he said.
“Jimmy’s is where I would come after working to relax and enjoy the company of the patrons and my dear friend, Willy Gilbert, the bartender who over the years has become one of my closet friends,” Lovejoy said in a statement. “Willy was also rather famous for his jazz collection which was the soundtrack for the bar.” Gilbert, who worked at Jimmy’s for more than 25 years, will return to man the bar at the new restaurant on a part-time basis.
The Lovejoy family – Bob, Clay, Dawn, Athena and Martha — has also made a donation to the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation to fund an Asian museum inside the cocktail lounge.
“We want to honor our neighborhood’s heritage, especially those who worked here in this building so they aren’t forgotten for their important contributions to this community,” Bob’s son, Clay Lovejoy, said in a statement. “Think of it as a great conversation starter.”
The Lovejoys have restored the vibrant red bar to its original length, fitting under the pagoda-styled roof. They’ve also brought back other original touches, including red, black and gold Chinese décor and the vintage pin-up posters of Asian women that adorned the bar previously. The original sign that hung outside Jimmy’s now dominates the back wall. Tommy Chung, who took over the business from his dad Jimmy in the 1970s, gave the Lovejoys permission to use the sign. The cocktail menu will feature classic mixed drinks and the bar’s own signature cocktails, plus wine and bottled beer.
In the kitchen, Julian and Wine Cask veteran Weston Richards will be the executive chef. The Pickle Room will be open Monday through Saturday.
The Central Coast savors its new reputation
The Central Coast is fast becoming for Los Angeles what Napa and Sonoma are to the San Francisco Bay Area.
That was the word from celebrity chefs at this year’s Savor the Central Coast, the annual September food and wine festival hosted by Sunset magazine and the San Luis Obispo County tourism industry.
Speaking at the main Savor event at Santa Margarita Ranch, celebrity chef Michael Voltaggio, owner of Ink restaurant in Los Angeles and a Top Chef competitor, said the Central Coast is attracting its own foodie following.
“I no longer have to travel to Sonoma to get a great glass of wine,” he said. Asked what his favorite SLO County wine is, he quipped “whatever someone puts in front of me.”
Nathan Lyon, co-host of PBS’ “Growing a Greener World,” echoed those thoughts. As chefs return to simpler forms of cooking that “get out of the way of the ingredients” fresh produce such as that grown on the Central Coast becomes more central to high-end cuisine, he said.
As in years past, Savor attracted hundreds of area restaurants and wineries who gave out samples of their finest offerings to visitors. Last year, more than 10,000 people attended the Santa Margarita Ranch event over three days, and the event neared break-even. The numbers hadn’t been crunched on this year’s event as of press time, but attendance appeared to be high again.
The event is also evolving away from being completely restaurant-centric. Wineries had a strong showing this year, as did a large number of craft brewers from the region’s emerging beer scene.
Vegetarian in the Valley
Olive oil company Global Gardens has opened its own eatery. Owner Theo Stephan opened Caliterranean Café opened last month at 380 Bell St. in Los Alamos.
The café features a rotating vegetarian menu with daily specials including phyllo pitas, stuffed French toast, a daily dip, salads and a daily pickle, plus a weekly list of craft beers and Santa Barbara County wines. Produce is sourced locally and organically, the Stephan said. Plus, the menu features items made with Global Gardens’ handcrafted olive oils and balsamic vinegars, the company said. There’s even a selection olive oil desserts such as handmade olive oil ice cream.
Global Gardens and the Caliterranean Café is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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