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Commercial Changes Underfoot on Eastside’s Milpas Street

Closures, relocations and renovations are all part of the altered business landscape

Milpas Street on Santa Barbara’s Eastside may be less than a mile from bustling State Street, but it boasts a commercial life of its own.

The recession has prompted some changes, but other recent factors also have created some highly visible alterations to the Milpas landscape, including:

» Impending departure of Whitefoot Meat Market, whose space at 336 N. Milpas St. is being acquired by British grocery company Fresh and Easy.

» Ongoing renovation of the barbecue restaurant on Milpas and Canon Perdido streets where a cow statue is being repainted apparently by high school students.

» Vacant East Beach Wine shop, whose owner moved to La Arcada off State Street because if he had stayed, the freeway overpass construction would have shut him down.

Dave Whitefoot, 61, said he’s ready for a vacation after Whitefoot Meat Market, the butcher shop his father started 42 years ago, closes down Sept. 25.

“After 39 years of working here, I’m ready for a vacation,” Whitefoot said, adding that it would be difficult to find another location because of the cost involved. “I’m going to think about that after the first of the year.”

Whitefoot said he was surprised to hear he had so many fans after he announced the shop’s closure last week.

“When you’re the last butcher shop in town, you’re the last butcher shop,” he said.

At the north end of Milpas on the corner of Canon Perdido Street, visitors may wonder why a statue of a cow — atop what used to be a barbecue joint — keeps changing color. This week it was green and gold, the colors of the Santa Barbara High School Dons.

A cow statue, whose color keeps changing, sits atop the former BBQ restaurant at the corner of Milpas and  Canon Perdido streets.
A cow statue, whose color keeps changing, sits atop the former BBQ restaurant at the corner of Milpas and Canon Perdido streets. (Ray Estrada / Noozhawk photo)

While the cow’s color keeps changing, the former restaurant’s renovation appears to be stagnant. Reconstruction of an outdoor deck at the eatery has been under way for nearly a year. Windows are covered with brown paper, but little renovation can be seen inside or outside the building.

After operating for a decade on lower Milpas Street, the East Beach Wine Co. moved last September to downtown Santa Barbara just in time to beat the pile-driving construction work at the Highway 101 overpass.

For the past year, shop owners David and Linda Gable have operated East Beach Wine Co. out of La Arcada Mall, 1114 State St., Suite 24, next to the back door of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and by the turtle fountain.

The shop’s former location is surrounded by detour signs and Caltrans equipment. Several businesses, including a vehicle towing service, continue to operate near what used to be East Beach Wine Co.

Milpas Street has its share of vacant buildings, but not as many as State Street. Most notably, the former Wescom Credit Union building at the corner of Milpas and Gutierrez streets has been vacant for about a year since the company moved its offices out of Santa Barbara.

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

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