Friday, May 27 , 2016, 3:13 pm | Fair 67º

Owner of Sage & Onion Café Plants Roots in Old Town Goleta

Steven Giles hopes a second go-around for his business serves as an example in helping revitalize the area

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

Steven Giles has opened his business in Old Town Goleta, and he would love to see other restaurants and cafés follow suit.

Giles, owner of Sage & Onion Café at 5599 Hollister Ave., opened up shop Jan. 14 after a five-year hiatus. The café, which used to be at 34 E. Ortega St. in Santa Barbara, closed after nine years in 2008.

For his second go-around after dabbling in the real estate broker world and spending more time with family, Giles and his wife, Maria, have planted business roots just a mile down the road from their Goleta home.

Giles has enough confidence in the area that he also opened XO Coffee & Tea Bar in the connecting space next door.

“We’ve always felt that Goleta needed ...” he said, pausing in thought. “There really aren’t that many (restaurants). We have the top employers. There could certainly be a lot more out here.”

The recently closed Sizzler sits across from Sage & Onion in the parking lot of Kellogg Square. A floral shop, liquor store and Pacific Coast Bartenders School are part of the eclectic mix of nearby businesses.

Giles, 43, has brought his London chef experience to the Old Town square, specializing in breakfast sandwiches, slow-roasted meats, soups, freshly baked pastries and other Britain-fused staples.

He said Sage & Onion has seen great success in its to-go meals, each individually packaged and sold for less than $9.99.

“What’s for dinner?” Giles asked, recalling the nights when people return from work and are at a loss of ingredients or motivation to cook.

On Friday, to-go dinner at Sage & Onion included pork meatballs and fresh tomato sauce.

“It’s been a very popular program,” said Giles, noting the meal is different each day. “Sometimes we run out.”

Giles easily recites his menu from memory down to the detail, most of which includes some variation of sage, onion or a “secret splash” of something he remembers but can’t say.

After settling in the Santa Barbara area 23 years ago, Giles said he has come to know the importance of using local ingredients — he uses local bakeries — and preparing dishes and sandwiches like no one else.

Sage & Onion also has a hand in the catering business, since it is open six days a week and closes by 6 p.m.

Giles said he hopes to keep his business open for longer than nine years this time, at least long enough so that his kids — ages 13, 10 and 2 — can work a stint there.

The restaurant he has been waiting to open since October 2011, when he put in an offer on the Kellogg Square place, is finally up and running, and Giles is ready to share his talents in an area he believes is underserved.

“I want to provide a great product at an affordable price,” he told Noozhawk. “I want everybody to enjoy this.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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