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Advice

BizHawk: Panera Bread Location on Lower State Street Falls Flat

Goleta’s Fresco Café North morphs into the Fig Grill, Lumber Liquidators opens on the Eastside and Big Dog opens on State Street

The Panera Bread at 700 State St. closed up for good last Wednesday after being open at the downtown Santa Barbara location for two years.
The Panera Bread at 700 State St. closed up for good last Wednesday after being open at the downtown Santa Barbara location for two years. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

[BizHawk is published weekly, and includes items of interest to the business community. Share your business news, including employee announcements and personnel moves, by emailing [email protected]]

The Panera Bread at 700 State St. closed up shop last week, plagued by the same parking and accessibility issues that have haunted many a business that’s tried to move onto the downtown Santa Barbara street corner.

After spending two years at Ortega and State streets, Panera closed for good last Wednesday ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to Glenn Mah, operating partner with First Picks Bread Company, the national chain franchisee who opened that location and 10 others on the Central Coast.

“The difficulty with downtown State Street was easy access,” Mah said. “It’s just really hard to do at a downtown location.”

Mah said his company’s location at 3851 State St. in La Cumbre Plaza does well because it better fits the ideal business model — in a shopping center with tons of parking spaces. That one opened in March 2012.

“It’s not that we’re unable to pay the rent,” he said of the closed restaurant. “We can’t serve the customers as well there, which means they can’t get to us. We want to make sure that everybody gets served well.”

Ortega Pacific LLC, a Beverly Hills-based firm, bought the building in 2010, knowing the space has quite a bit of bad luck finding a stable tenant on such a visible — and increasingly more expensive — Santa Barbara thoroughfare.

Mah’s company spent months and millions to renovate the location, which had been vacant for a number of years after the closure of the Left at Albuquerque restaurant.

There’s no word yet on what will fill the space, and a number listed for Ortega Pacific LLC was no longer in service. Radius Group Commercial Real Estate & Investments, which previously was in charge of leasing the property, isn’t currently advertising the space.

Fresco Café North Gets New Name

The Fresco Café North at 5940 Calle Real in Goleta transformed last weekend into the Fig Grill, all while under the same ownership.

Govender family members posted a message on the restaurant’s website, letting locals know they were turning over a new leaf and would no longer operate under the Fresco Café Group.

“For the past 20 years we have had proud relationships with two local families that started home-grown restaurants which are a part of Santa Barbara history,” the family said in a statement. “We have been a franchisee of Giovanni’s Pizza and Fresco Cafe Group, respectively, with two decades of experience in operating and managing three restaurants. It is now a perfect time to begin a new chapter with an independent and fresh concept.”

A fresh menu accompanies the change, including more small-plate options, local craft beers on tap and some popular family favorites.

“Our customers, the life blood of any establishment, will continue to enjoy the same outstanding service from familiar personnel in front of house operations and our busy, competent kitchen," the family said. "We are looking forward to serving you with the best food, building better relations and offering you a new, tasty menu beginning this summer.”

Lumber Liquidators Opens

A Lumber Liquidators has opened at 18 S. Milpas St. in Santa Barbara.

The national chain with stores across the country moved into the old U.S. Post Office building.

Big Dog Opens Location

A Big Dog Sportswear location is open at 400 State St. in Santa Barbara, near the Staples.

The national retailer founded in Santa Barbara in 1983 opened late last month.

The store offers casual sportswear including famous Big Dogs T-shirts and more, now in sizes up to 6XL.

Arroyo Grande Gets Figueroa Mountain Location

Buellton-based Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. will celebrate the grand opening of its fifth taproom in Arroyo Grande this weekend.

The local brewery moved into the former Applebee’s to create a 200-seat restaurant and 15-barrel brewhouse at 1462 E. Grand Ave. 

A family-friendly menu will include gastro pub fare ranging from salads to entrees, burgers and sandwiches, with landmark-inspired names such as “The Pike” Cola-spiked carnitas sandwich with Hurricane Deck DIPA barbecue sauce. 

SBMenus.com Launches App

SBMenus.com has launched a free user-friendly app to better serve customers who use its online restaurant guise and delivery service.

The company founded in 2008 by Bryan Brand and Dusty Stutsman offers delivery menus from more than 80 restaurants and provides the convenience of one-click ordering and paying directly through the app.

SB Menus will connect on-the-go customers looking for restaurant delivery or takeout, and restaurants seeking delivery solutions with this free, easy-to-use mobile app that can be downloaded for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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