State and A Bar & Grill will change ownership after 28 years in downtown Santa Barbara, owner Gary Lynd said.
Lynd told Noozhawk that he sold the restaurant to Barry and Margaret Shulman because “it was just time. Twenty-eight years is a long time; it’s time to move along.”
A Notice of Application for Ownership Change has been posted on the window of the restaurant at 1201 State St. Its name will change to Maggie’s at State & A. Lynd said he assumed the new restaurant would resemble its predecessor.
“We had the community’s support for more than 28 years to make it what it is,” Lynd said. “The connection with the local community, their support, our involvement and a good lease kept us around.”
State and A Bar & Grill first opened its doors in February 1983 and featured original stones on the back patio and displayed old photographs of its roots.
“Santa Barbara being a small town is very unique in itself, and I enjoyed being apart of that hub,” Lynd said.
State and A Bar & Grill was once one of the few places to eat outdoors in the 1980s, but it is its location in the arts district that sets it apart, Lynd said.
“I could tell you it’s bittersweet. Nothing is forever in this life, and we do what we do,” he said. “I’ve been through that, but now I’m feeling more euphoria and the ease of being done with it.”
“We hung in there; we were never close to shutting down. Part of it is the ability to have a good landlord. That’s a key factor who can work with you during a tough time,” he said. “Everyone has to realize if you buy a place five years ago, you have to charge more than someone who has owned it for 100 years. They can work with you; it’s different.”
There are only a handful of restaurants that have enjoyed success for more than 20 years — Paradise Café as one with owner and City Councilman Randy Rowse at the helm. Lynd and Rowse are both members of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization.
“I think that lends itself to an age factor of the people involved with it. Randy, like myself, started young and built where they were,” Lynd said. “Today, there are different aspects of the leases that don’t allow restaurants to spend that length of time in one place and do well.”
“I think restaurants with a good product tend to do well no matter what time they come out,” Deering said. “Los Arroyos on Figueroa is not that old but doing very well; Jane on Upper State Street as well. If it’s a very good product, people will find it and support it.”
Deering said there has been a high transaction volume during the past six months on State Street, which may mean lease rates stabilizing and a new normal.
Business aside, State and A Bar & Grill will feature live music Thursday through Saturday to celebrate times past. Ownership will transfer on April 1.
“We’re going to roll through the music over the years and get the old folks in here and have fun our last few days,” Lynd said, adding that he had no regrets. “It has been a great run and fun, but it’s time to move along. Holding on to something forever is challenge in itself. It’s time to give someone else another chance for this fabulous spot.”