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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 5:47 pm | Fair 59º


Bill Macfadyen: Elephant Bar’s Closing Forces Nonprofit Groups to Hunt New Place to Meet

NoozWeek's Top 5 is right on Target, visits the Funk Zone, identifies five gang stabbing suspects, and keeps Sean Misner in the news

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Elephant Bar Restaurant Closing After 30 Years in Goleta

As even its most fervent fans must admit, the Elephant Bar Restaurant has seen better days. To their everlasting dismay, it won’t see many more.

Noozhawk’s Gina Potthoff first reported July 24 that the former flagship of the 46-store restaurant chain is shutting down Aug. 21. For the last 30 years, it’s been serving up an eclectic-yet-mildly exotic combination of Asian-European-American food at 521 Firestone Road adjacent to the Santa Barbara Airport.

Although I’ve found the Elephant Bar’s employees are unfailingly cheerful and welcoming, it’s been obvious for quite some time that the owners had stopped providing the TLC necessary to keep up appearances. Let’s be honest: the furniture looks like it was dragged out of an Isla Vista frat party, and gas stations have cleaner restrooms.

What the Elephant Bar does offer, however, is a large, comfortable meeting room for rent at an affordable price, along with the ability to deftly handle a good-sized crowd with a uniform serving time for meals. Hundreds of Goleta Valley community groups and clubs have called it home.

These are important elements, and make for a combination that I’m pretty sure is in short supply along that part of the South Coast. In fact, I don’t believe there’s anything comparable within miles. Yes, there are a number of facilities with meeting rooms of that size — but they don’t have a restaurant attached. And there are plenty of restaurants, almost all of them without such a meeting room.

Probably to its detriment, the Elephant Bar has been very generous to local nonprofit organizations, and its demise will be sorely missed. It’s important that the landlord, the Santa Barbara Airport, keep that kind of community service need in mind as it searches for a replacement tenant.

As a board member of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, which has held many a meeting there over the years, I know our organization already is thinking about that. It’s in the City of Goleta’s best interests to do so, as well.

Meanwhile, the Elephant Bar news spread like wildfire among Noozhawk readers. In the 24 hours since we posted Gina’s story, it had been read by nearly 16,000 of them — a truly remarkable pace.

Like an oasis, a Target store beckons for Goleta. (Target rendering)

2. City of Goleta Signs Off on Initial Application for New Target Store

Target is inching its way through the City of Goleta’s planning process, but the popular retail chain is still a long way from the bulls-eye.

Goleta senior planner Mary Chang told our Gina Potthoff that the city has signed off on Target’s initial application to build a store on 11 acres at 6466 Hollister Ave. near Los Carneros Way. She said officials are now working on a request to solicit proposals from consultants to conduct the environmental impact report. A lengthy study and public comment period are among the hurdles still ahead.

Anacapa Project
San Luis Obispo may have its chewed bubblegum alley, but Katie and David Hay think Lucky Penny restaurant’s new wall of coin is a shinier attraction for Santa Barbara. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

3. Funk Zone’s Anacapa Project Takes Urban Planning to a Whole New Level

Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone off of Lower State Street has become quite the draw for locals and tourists alike. A new development at 131 Anacapa St. is likely to make it even more of a magnet.

Katie and Doug Hay of Central Coast Real Estate LLC recently gave Gina Potthoff a tour of the complex of nine businesses in a 16,700-square-foot converted warehouse that once was home to the Bay Café and the Santa Barbara Fish Market.

The new tenants include the Lark and Lucky Penny restaurants; Area 5.1; Avelina Wine Co.; Cutler’s Artisan Spirits; Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.; Guitar Bar; Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant; and Riverbench Vineyard & Winery.

Some of the venues are open now, while the rest will have a grand opening in early August.

“I think it’s a win for everybody in Santa Barbara, frankly,” Katie Hay said. “The city needs to encourage more of that.”

4. Names Released of 5 Suspects in Santa Barbara Stabbings

A total of eight suspects have now been named in two Santa Barbara stabbing incidents that wounded four people in the middle of the night on July 13. Anyone surprised that they’re all apparently gang related?

Santa Barbara police on July 18 identified the first five as Edgar Alberto Castellanos, 23; Itzel Ramirez, 20; Rita Maria Rodriguez Mejia, 23; Jose Rene Santa Cruz, 20; and Abraham Vega, 20, all of Santa Barbara.

They’re charged with attempted murder with two victims listed in the complaint, as well as assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Two other victims are mentioned in the complaint, and all five defendants are facing charges of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury with those victims as well.

Vega already has one strike against him for a 2011 assault with a deadly weapon charge for which he was convicted last year.

On July 24, Sgt. Riley Harwood said three more suspects were arrested: Adrianna Rosemary Marie Burkett, 22, and Iris Pineda, 23, both of Santa Barbara, and Nancy Moreno, 22, of unincorporated Santa Barbara County.

All of the charges list a special allegation of street terrorism, for the benefit of or at the direction of ... the Westside Gang.

Harwood said bail was set at $1.2 million for Moreno, Santa Cruz and Vega, and at $1.1 million for Burkett, Lopez, Pineda, Ramirez and Rodriguez-Mejia.

5. Firefighter Sean Misner Returns to Santa Ynez, Accompanied by ‘Brothers in Arms’ and Silent Tributes

Still drawing traffic was Lara Cooper’s story about the somber homecoming of Sean Misner, the Santa Ynez Valley native and Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighter who was killed in the deadly Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona.

Misner and 18 fellow members of the elite Prescott, Ariz., hotshots crew died June 30 when the wildfire they were fighting suddenly turned back on them. It was the deadliest day for firefighters since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

Accompanied by a motorcade of fire vehicles, Misner’s family brought his remains home July 13, and he was honored July 15 in an emotional memorial service at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s football stadium.

Misner, 26, is survived by his wife, Amanda, and their unborn child, as well as his parents, Tammy and Ron Misner of Santa Ynez. He was the grandson of the late Montecito Fire Protection District Fire Chief Herb McElwee and nephew of Montecito FIre Division Chief Terry McElwee.

                                                                  •        •        •

My next Twitter Chat is scheduled for 11 to 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, July 31.

Twitter users can use the hashtag #nooztalk to participate, and readers can click here to join the conversation on the Twubs Twitter Chat platform.

                                                                  •        •        •

Note to self: Do not swim in a baitball. These two guys saw the food chain up close and personal while diving at Souza Rock, about two miles off Morro Bay. Profanity warning.

(Shawn Stamback video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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