Did you hear?
Whether a new retailer opens on State Street, a local restaurant closes down, a business hosts an event or a firm adds a new employee, it’s easy to feel a step behind Santa Barbara’s dynamic business beat. Shoot, I’ve been at it for a year and it still makes my head spin.
So now I’m writing a new column — Santa Barbara BizHawk — that will give you a weekly breakdown of the local buzz.
A little about myself: My name is Alex Kacik, I’ve been on the full-time business beat since March 2011 and with Noozhawk since I graduated in 2010 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in journalism and a healthy dose of the Mustang Daily newsroom. I’m an avid sports fan and a classic rock junkie.
I’m looking to expand Noozhawk’s local business coverage and multimedia storytelling through my daily reporting.
It’s the storytelling that keeps me going. We, as journalists, have the privilege to learn about people’s passions, deep-seated emotions and visions. I’ve been lucky enough to tell stories under Noozhawk’s wing for the past two years.
The French Press is one of my favorite places to grab a latte and people watch. The popular café is moving into the old WheelHouse Bike Shop at 528 Anacapa St.
After reading a Facebook post about the planned expansion, I biked to the French Press on the corner of State and Figueroa streets Tuesday and talked to a barista. He told me that owners Todd Mayer and Julia Stewart will keep the current location, which was formerly occupied by Java Jones, and will be ready to open at the old bike shop by the end of the summer.
It seems that coffee shops thrive in Santa Barbara, anyway. Take Handlebar Coffee Roasters, for example.
“The French Press is (exciting!!) expanding, and we are looking for a few good people,” the Facebook post reads. “Must love drinking coffee and being nice. If this sounds up your alley, please bring a résumé by. Thanks friends!”
And what’s the latest with WheelHouse? Co-founder Erik Wright told me that he and his partner are working on an online marketplace that will feature WheelHouse’s signature work cycles. Stay tuned.
Luxury retailer and New York fashion designer Betsey Johnson has announced she will be closing the privately held chain’s 54 stores and nine outlets, including the downtown Santa Barbara store. “Everything Must Go” and “20 to 50 percent off” signs are posted at the store at the busy intersection of State and Carrillo streets.
“While the sales are ongoing, Betsey Johnson customers are still our main priority. We hope that they use this opportunity to find great discounts on all of the latest Betsey Johnson fashions,” CEO Jonathan Friedman said in a news release.
Do you think this will bring more business to stores like Express, The Gap and Banana Republic? We’ve seen quite the shift from high-end retailers like Blue Bee to discounters like H&M and Marshall’s on State Street.
STORE’S LAST CHAPTER
Karen Thrasher has read more than 4,000 books — three a week for 60-plus years. After 15 years in business, she will close up her used bookstore, Thrasher Books at 827 Santa Barbara St. Cheese shop C’est Cheese is expanding into her space next door and Thrasher said she couldn’t afford to move her store with today’s lease rates. But she’s taken an optimistic approach to the situation.
“This is my bookstore, I created this, this is what I love,” she told me last week.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
The Snack Shack is replacing the boutique Katwalk at 801 State St. Biking up State Street one morning, I noticed construction in front of Paseo Nuevo Mall so I stopped by and happened to find the owner on location.
“It will be family-friendly, fresh fast food prepared daily, and just a simple menu,” he said. “Our space is pretty small so were keeping it simple. We’ll have high-quality sandwiches for an affordable price.”
The Snack Shack will offer beer and wine, “old favorites in a new and innovative serving style” and expects to open by June 15. One former Katwalk employee told me the owner couldn’t afford the prime real estate’s rent after months of sluggish sales.
CLIMBING TO NEW HEIGHTS
Construction began on the Santa Barbara Rock Gym on April 23, and the facility is expected to open soon.
It will feature more than 8,500 square feet of walls, 25 feet of top rope, and 50-foot lead routes behind REI at 320 State St.
WELCOME TO THE TEAM
Stefanie Davis has joined the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Private Wealth Management group as a private client adviser. Prior to joining SBB&T, Davis was the director of marketing and communications for the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.
On the heels of Scolari’s announcement that it will close its California stores, including the one on Milpas Street, Fresh & Easy set its grand opening for June 13 at 336 N. Milpas St.
It might be good timing for the international chain that carries fresh-prepared meals, meats and produce that have no artificial colors or flavors, no added trans fats and no high-fructose corn syrup, as well as national brand products.
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