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Business

FisHouse Owners Lease State Street Space for a Fourth Restaurant

Corner site at State and Gutierrez streets is adjacent to space taken by REI

Santa Barbara restaurateurs Tom and Adam White are preparing to launch a fourth restaurant in the spring, the father-son team revealed Tuesday after it was announced that they’ve leased 5,368 square feet at 330 State St.

The Whites own and operate Santa Barbara FisHouse, 101 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. on Stearns Wharf and the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, 2981 Cliff Drive.

The 330 State St. space, at the southeast corner of State and Gutierrez streets, was formerly occupied by 1 World Imports.

It is adjacent to the building at 314 State St. that was just leased by REI for an outdoor gear store. REI also expects to open in 2011.

Michael Martz, Kristopher Roth and Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial Group represented all parties in the transaction.

“These two leases show the resilience of downtown Santa Barbara, even at a time when most cities are struggling with high retail vacancies,” Martz said in a news release. “Here we have a national retailer and a local restaurant family both investing in the commercial potential of Santa Barbara.”

The Whites have built a family business in Santa Barbara during the past three decades.

In 1980, Tom White opened Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., which began as a wholesale source for fresh fish and evolved into a popular eatery among locals and visitors alike.

Almost 20 years later, with son Adam now a part of the business, the Whites opened Santa Barbara FisHouse. In 2008, they launched the Boathouse at popular Arroyo Burro Beach Park.

The as-yet-unnamed fourth restaurant will be their first foray into the crowded State Street retail corridor.

“We are developing a new concept that we believe has the potential to become a Santa Barbara classic,” Adam White said. “Given the location outside the prime tourist zone, locals are key to the concept, and we are creating a place that Santa Barbarans will love.

“As we did with the Boathouse, we are assembling a great team of local architectural and design minds to create an interesting and inviting atmosphere.”

The Whites’ crew includes engineer Ken Dixon of Windward Engineering and contractor Skye McGinnes, and they are also talking to architect Jeff Shelton about creating a unique look for the interior.

According to Hayes officials, the complex at 316-330 State St. was built between 1911 and 1917 by Henry Ernest Bothin, a coffee and spice merchant based in San Francisco.

At that time, Gutierrez Street was part of the old Highway 101. The buildings hosted auto businesses on the ground floor, such as El Camino Real Motor Car Co., and El Camino Hotel was on the second floor.

The buildings survived the 1925 earthquake, but the façades were lost and replaced with a Moorish-style arcade and façade that remains intact.

The tower over 330 State St. was added in 1937 for Seaside Oil Co., which was headquartered there and operated a filling station at the site for decades.

During World War II, 316-324 State St. was used by Douglas Aircraft Co. to make airplane parts.

In 1974, the Bothin Helping Fund gave 330 State St. to the nonprofit Work Inc. and sold 316-324 State St. to Marshall Howe. Ray Hicks and Georgette Topakas have owned 330 State St. since 2002.

Noozhawk business writer Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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