Many a pizza-lover pilgrimage and raving Yelp review has been crafted in the name of the blazing, wood-fire oven at Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, a restaurant that has helped put the little valley town on the map in the past decade.
Word has spread so sufficiently, in fact, that the restaurant that prides itself on using locally grown produce and promoting Santa Barbara County wine and beer has found a second home in downtown Santa Barbara as the hand-picked, anchor restaurant for the Alma del Pueblo project near the historic Arlington Theatre.
Full of Life Flatbread was an obvious choice for project planners, who have been working toward completion of the mixed-used development since buying the property at 34 W. Victoria St. in 2008.
Local, beloved and artisan are all interchangeable project descriptors used by Marge Cafarelli, president of the Urban Developments real estate investment company in charge of the project.
All but two slots of the 36,000-square-foot Santa Barbara Public Market have been promised to area purveyors that match that description. They'll be housed under one roof, within easy walking distance of the 37 new residential units being built on the second and third stories of the project near the Arlington's doorstep, across the street from the New Victoria Theatre and a block away from The Granada Theatre.
Although originally slated for completion this month, Cafarelli said the Alma del Pueblo project was slightly waylaid because of so many “moving pieces,” pushing completion to March 2014.
Residents, however, should be able to move in by early January, she said.
“I feel very good about the schedule,” Cafarelli told Noozhawk. “I made a decision to not push it, rush it. I could’ve put a grocery store in. That would’ve been easy.”
Cafarelli’s sentiment rings true, since the building project sits where a Vons and adjoining parking lot used to be — on a half-block from Chapala Street to the property’s eastern edge at the Christian Science Reading Room at 1301 State St.
Parking for the site will be underground, and Urban Developments has gone to great lengths to protect the view of the Arlington, a pivotal initial hurdle with the Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission. The company also moved a tile mural that had adorned the side of the Vons along Victoria Street; its new home is along the Chapala Street side of the Santa Barbara Public Market.
Cafarelli said the new market is envisioned as offering residents and shoppers the full grocery experience, with an open layout and room for public seating.
The market is still seeking seafood and cheese merchants to round out the 15 spaces for specialty vendors.
The lineup includes Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, Crazy Good Bread, Foragers Pantry, Belcampo Meat Co., Enjoy Cupcakes, Flagstone Pantry, Green Star Coffee, il Fustino oils and vinegars, JuiceWell, The Pasta Shoppe, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, WINE + BEER and The Kitchen.
“People are really gravitating to this because it’s so different,” Cafarelli said, noting the amount of positive feedback the project has already received. “Santa Barbara is just filled with wonderful artisan food people. They do it in such an artful way. I think this is going to be a beloved community gathering place.”
Cafarelli would not say how many residential units were already claimed, but alluded to interest from locals as well as out-of-towners, including some from abroad. Village Properties listed open houses for four of the units Sunday.
Last week, construction crews removed scaffolding and protective screening from the east side of the complex.
Cafarelli said the next task is narrowing down the list of retailers that are interested in occupying the space that will front Victoria Street alongside Full of Life Flatbread.
The flatbread following will be glad to know that owner Clark Straub intends to keep the 100 W. Victoria St. location open seven days a week, instead of the four partial days offered in Los Alamos.
Staub said he’s even moved down to Santa Barbara himself in anticipation.
“We’re super excited to be heading down there,” he said. “We have become a destination restaurant, and I want to take the ideas and concepts here and expand upon them.”