Pixel Tracker

Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 11:45 pm | Fair 51º


Dance Hall, Restaurants Express Interest in Former Elephant Bar Space

Two regional restaurant chains could submit formal proposals this month, while a local resident wants to open a country-music club

Two regional restaurant chains are seriously interested in occupying the empty former Elephant Bar Restaurant near the Santa Barbara Airport, along with a completely different concept — a community dance hall to exclusively play country music.

Official lease proposals could be submitted as soon as this month, according to Jim Turner, a senior associate with Radius Commercial Real Estate and Investments.

Restaurants have shown a consistent level of interest in the restaurant/retail space at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta, vacant since September when the national chain did not renew its lease after 30 years with the airport, which owns the property.

Radius has been trying to secure a tenant to fill the 8,700-square-foot property since March, preferably one that will stay long term and provide a steady income to the city.

Two regional restaurant chains are apparently not intimidated by the large size of the space — about twice the size of a typical Santa Barbara or Goleta restaurant, Turner said.

“We do have two restaurant operators that are very, very interested in the space,” he said, declining to share the names. “I think either operator would be a good fit.”

Also on the table is an unofficial proposal to open a community dance hall called “Honky Tonk,” the brainchild of local Clint Orr.

Turner said those discussions are ongoing, with Orr conducting research and gauging interest in the area, although the idea is outside what’s laid out in the airport’s general plan.

Orr could not be reached for comment, but he did speak at a Santa Barbara City Council meeting this week to let officials know his plans would soon be moving forward.

Turner said the dance club might somehow be set up as a nonprofit and provide a place for local high-school students to line or square dance to country music.

“I commend him for doing a lot of homework upfront,” Turner said. “I think it’s kind of a unique idea for the site.”

In the end, the airport district and Santa Barbara City Council will have final say, and choosing a restaurant is the preference, he said.

“The airport is looking forward to reviewing all restaurant proposals submitted and vetted by Radius Group,” Airport Director Hazel Johns said in an email.

The Elephant Bar used to serve as a popular venue for hosting meetings of local organizations, and the building is already equipped with a kitchen, 3,800 square feet of patio space, 98 parking spaces, and some furniture the Elephant Bar left behind.

Turner said both interested restaurants are qualified and boast numerous locations.

Once a proposal has been officially submitted, Turner said, the clock would start on a 30-day process to review and receive approval.

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Gary Welterlen and Carla Reeves
Gary Welterlen and Carla Reeves
"We both love this business. We strive to make life long relationships from each real estate transaction."

Full Profile >