Monday, August 20 , 2018, 1:13 am | A Few Clouds 67º



BizHawk: ‘World-Class’ Somerset Restaurant Prepares to Open in Downtown Santa Barbara

The city’s Julienne and Gandolfo’s restaurants close, and American Riviera Bank welcomes new VP

Somerset, featuring ‘progressive California cuisine with rustic French and Italian influences, will open Dec. 9 at 7 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Somerset, featuring ‘progressive California cuisine with rustic French and Italian influences, will open Dec. 9 at 7 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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Steve Hermann fell in love with Santa Barbara after moving to Montecito seven years ago, but had one objection: “My big complaint with it is I just don’t think the food tastes very good.”

After the Arts & Letters Café closed last year in downtown Santa Barbara, the designer of high-end celebrity homes in Los Angeles went all out reconstructing the site for his second venture into the high-end hospitality business.

“We’ve spent millions of dollars and two years completely rebuilding the entire facility, ground up,” he said.

On Dec. 9, Somerset, featuring “progressive California cuisine with rustic French and Italian influences,” will open at 7 E. Anapamu St.

Hermann even convinced the chef of his favorite restaurant, A.O.C. in Los Angeles, to lead Somerset’s kitchen.

The goal, Hermann said, is a “world-class” restaurant that won’t compete with its fellow Santa Barbara establishments, but “against the best restaurants in the world.”

The designer’s first foray into the hospitality industry was in Palm Springs with L’Horizon Hotel and Spa.

Somerset’s interior will have a “classic type of feel to it” with a mid-century-modern twist, he said, while the courtyard, bolstered by 500-year-old olive trees craned in over the roof, will feel like a “great, grand café in London.”

“Step into the back and you could be in Tuscany, you could be in old Greece,” Hermann said. “It’s very hard to determine where you are because you feel like you’ve been transported to another place and another time.

“The space is absolutely gorgeous — gorgeous to the point where we expect we should win multiple design awards against the best restaurants in the world.”

Julienne closes its doors after eight years

Julienne, at 138 E. Canon Perdido St. in Santa Barbara, closed its doors on Nov. 12 after eight years.

In an email to patrons and fans, Chef Justin West said he is selling the restaurant to focus more on his family and Wildwood Kitchen, another restaurant of his at 410 E. Haley St. that opened last December.

According to West, Julienne will continue offering fixed menus on select days — reservation required — as he looks for a buyer.

The gourmet establishment, which utilized ingredients from local farmers markets, garnered wide acclaim during its time.

In 2013, the restaurant won best dish over dozens of other restaurants around the country at the James Beard Foundation’s Local Dish Challenge.

Gandolfo’s has likely served its last sandwich

Gandolfo’s, a New York-style deli, is no longer serving up sandwiches at 718 State St. in Santa Barbara.

The franchisee had to close down for personal reasons, said Dan Pool, Gandolfo’s CEO.

The windows of the restaurant were recently papered over, and Pool said he doesn’t expect it to reopen.

“We don’t currently see the situation changing,” he said.

Gandolfo’s was founded in 1989 in Utah and grew into a national chain. The closest location is now in Oxnard.

American Riviera Bank welcomes new VP

American Riviera Bank has a new vice president and commercial banking officer in Bryan Smith, the bank announced this week.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the construction, development and commercial real estate area,” American Riviera executive vice president and COO Joanne Funari said in a statement.

Smith has worked in the Santa Barbara banking industry and in local real estate for 30 years, according to the bank.

American Riviera has locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Montecito.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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