A child used his brightly colored pail and shovel to build a sandcastle while his friends played alongside and their parents enjoyed a sunny day in Carpinteria — but they weren’t at the beach.
The Padaro Beach Grill, at 3765 Santa Claus Lane, has reopened with a new look and new owners.
“It’s perfect because the kids can play while we sit in the sun and relax outside,” Santa Barbara mom Dani Griffith said. “It’s so ideal; the kids love it here. It’s an easy place to bring children and grab a bite — and that’s key.”
Owner Brent Reichard and brother Bruce founded the Habit Burger Grill chain three decades ago. They sold most of the now-40-store chain to Irvine-based private-equity firm KarpReilly LLC in 2007. It has grown exponentially while the founders have held on to the four units in the Santa Barbara area, and Brent Reichard is opening his third Hook Burger Bistro in Pasadena.
The new concept at Hook is designed to tap into the growing demand for more upscale burgers without an upscale price. The Padaro Beach Grill’s menu features some of Hook’s staples, such as the hickory burger garnished with a 100 percent USDA prime chunk 6-ounce patty, thick cut bacon, Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, crispy onions, lettuce and tomato between a toasted bakery bun. Customers have the choice of some seafood options, such as fish and chips, a mahi mahi wrap and fish tacos, along with sandwiches and salads.
Griffith said the Padaro Beach Grill used to be too expensive, and Reichard agreed — $15 for a chicken Caesar salad was too steep, especially in a down economy.
“Our goal is to get the locals back in here,” Reichard said. “We want to offer a consistent quality product at a reasonable price — quite a bit cheaper.”
Reichard not only transformed the menu but also the LEED-certified location, which looks more like a beach house than a restaurant.
“I liked it before, but it was expensive,” Griffith said. “Now it’s less expensive and looks nicer.”
The outside features an elevated patio with a lava rock fireplace, a pond and a waterfall that occupy an acre of space overlooking the ocean. There’s a stage for live music, a prep station and an outdoor bar to cater events. It also features a patio with couches, a barbecue pit, a sandbox, a waterfall, and new palm trees throughout the property.
“The wild card will be the events; it’s designed for weddings or a corporate outing,” Reichard said. “It’s perfect for birthdays and soccer parties — you name it.”
The Padaro Beach Grill has been on Santa Claus Lane for 24 years and closed in December.
“The whole thing was based on getting a lease that was reasonable so if there was 30 days of rain we would have a low base rent and could protect during the slow months,” Reichard said.
Percentage rent is a percentage of the tenant’s annual sales paid in addition to a fixed rent. He explained that if sales exceed a break point, or a predetermined sales level, additional rent is paid.
“When we’re busy during the summer, their rent will be substantial because the landlord will share in on the gross proceeds,” Reichard said, “but there is a small base minimum rent, so when it’s super slow we’re not stuck with a huge rent.”
Although the location suits families well, Reichard said he isn’t sure whether he will allow dogs on the premises.
Local restaurants now may allow dogs on outdoor patio areas at the owner’s discretion, according to a new policy of Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services.
“We know it was a dog-friendly place in the past,” Reichard said. “If we can figure out how to work it together we will, but I need to protect families. I wish it was still up to the state because that would make it easier.”
Families are the priority, he said, adding that parents can hire magicians or clowns and have a fun party without worrying about cleanup.
“It’s a great place with the sand and the trains going by,” he said. “If you are a little kid, it’s a great spot for a 5-year-old’s birthday party. You see the young moms there and it is a luxury for them to relax. It’s completely gated and a pretty safe environment.”
Gary Nielsen, who owns The Barbecue Co. with his wife, Jackie, a few doors away, said he is looking forward to increased traffic and better business along the street.
“Anytime you have a business that looks upgraded and has quality management, it increases the face value of everything,” he said.
Santa Claus Lane is poised to be put back on the map, Neilsen said, and business is finally starting to pick up after a difficult two years.
“The new Beach Grill is the flagship of the resurgence (of the economy),” he said.