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BizHawk: Entrepreneurs Bring German Street Food to Santa Barbara

Starbucks Drive-Thru OK'd by county Planning Commission, could open in 2018

Marcello Bisignani, left, and Marco Coccia have opened Urkeb on lower State Street in Santa Barbara, and will sell the Doner Kebap, a popular German street food. Click to view larger
Marcello Bisignani, left, and Marco Coccia have opened Urkeb on lower State Street in Santa Barbara, and will sell the Doner Kebap, a popular German street food. (. Josh Molina / Noozhawk Photo)

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Two German-Italian men are bringing a popular German street food to Santa Barbara.

Marcello Bisignani and Marco Coccia have opened Urkeb at 413 State St., and the restaurant specializes in serving the Doner Kebap, a dish that comes with either lamb or chicken, along with a variety of fillings, including lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, all inside either a falafel-like bread or tortilla.

For those doing the low-carb diet, you can also get it all inside a bowl.

The two opened the restaurant on Monday.

“We think the Doner Kebap is one of the non-exploited universal tastes like the pizza or the hamburger,” said Coccia, who was born in Italy, but raised in Germany.

He was a childhood buddy of Bisignani, and gave up his job as an engineer to go into the restaurant business with his friend, who owned and ran restaurants in Germany.

“I found myself spending too much time behind a computer putting together Excel and Powerpoints,” Coccia said.

Some of the walls in the restaurant are painted green, along with the menu. The color symbolizes the “freshness” of the food.

“It couldn’t be fresher,” Bisignani said. “It is made to order. The customer is in the kitchen.”

Part of the appeal of the restaurant is its simplicity. Two towers of chicken and lamb spin behind the counter. Customers choose the wrap or the bread, and then choose the filling. The Doner Kebap originated in Turkey, was popularized in Germany.

Every dish is $9, and comes with five different sauces: Yogurt house, avocado ranch, smoked onion, parsley vinaigrette and hot habanero.

“This is something super new in Santa Barbara,” Bisignani said.

They also serve $2 French fries and $2.50 sweet potato fries.

The duo said they got the idea to bring the Doner Kebap to America and approached German investors with the idea. They sold them on the idea and then the friends explored California for places to open.

They looked at San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and Santa Barbara, Goleta and Isla Vista. They settled on Santa Barbara because of its “foodie” culture and diversity of potential patrons.

“We found the environment of Santa Barbara very appealing,” Bisignani said. “Our hearts are here.”

They want to keep the menu simple so they can focus on quality.

“I like when the people try our food and say, ‘Wow, that's awesome,'” Bisignani said.

The co-owners have eight employees and are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; they plan to stay open until 2 a.m. once UCSB starts again. For the entrepreneurs, it is just the beginning.

“We didn’t come here for one restaurant,” said Coccia said. “We want to bring the Doner Kenap to the U.S.

Starbucks Coming to Goleta

A rendering of the future Starbucks on the corner of Calle Real and Turnpike Road in Goleta. Click to view larger
A rendering of the future Starbucks on the corner of Calle Real and Turnpike Road in Goleta. (Photo courtesy Terrain Consulting.)

While the men behind Urkeb are hoping to find a local customer base, the nation’s ubiquitous coffee shop likely won’t have that problem.

Gas station king John Price is opening a Starbucks on the corner of Calle Real and Turnpike Road, next to IHOP and across the street from two gas stations that he owns.

It’s not just any old Starbucks, either: Price is opening a Drive-Thru, sometime in 2018.

With no media coverage or public opposition, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission quietly approved the development in late 2016. In addition to the Starbucks, the project will include a high-end deli/breakfast restaurant, and possibly an ice cream shop.

Before Price owned the lot, a proposed McDonald’s was rejected by the Planning Commission, said Jim Youngson of Terrain Consulting, who worked with Price and Starbucks on the approved project.

Youngson expects the Starbucks to make bank with the nearby county employees, San Marcos High School students and residents toward Cathedral Oaks.

"Who wouldn’t love a drive-thru Starbucks?" he asked.

Shalhoob Meat Co. Open in Funk Zone

Shalhoob Meat Co. has opened up a Funk Zone patio to its Funk Zone location.

The new sit-down area is open on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to “late.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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