Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 2:09 pm | Fair 56º


Laurie Jervis: Santa Ynez Valley Kicks off Restaurant Week with New President/CEO Shelby Sim

Shelby Sim, who makes a living promoting all that the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer to tourists and locals alike, has been promoted to president and CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, the organization he has led since mid-2014.

VisitSYV, formed in 2010, promotes tourism in the small communities of Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez, Ballard, Los Alamos and Los Olivos.

Under Sim’s leadership, VisitSYV has strengthened bonds with other Santa Barbara County and California communities, as well as hosted press, media and tourism experts from around the

Last year, the Santa Ynez Valley was showcased as a destination during New York City Wine & Food Festival, Sundance NextFest and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Helped by VisitSYV’s efforts, Santa Barbara County’s travel-related spending totaled $2.1 billion in 2016, which resulted in $183.7 million in county tax revenue and the addition of
20,000 jobs, according to the organization.

I had follow-up questions for Sim and so tracked him down via email Jan. 12. I also suspected we’d bump into one another Sunday during Buellton’s Industrial Way fundraisers for fire and
flood victims, and I was right.

Sim credits his wife of 16 years, Amy, “for much of my success,” he said.

The couple lives in Buellton with children Aiden, 14, and Bella, 8; Sim also has a daughter, Tara, 28.

Shelby Sim is now president & CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. Click to view larger
Shelby Sim is now president & CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. (Courtesy photo)

In person Sunday and via email, Sim juxtaposed his feelings of grief for victims of the Montecito mudslides with unease that the closure of Highway 101 would cause visitors to think
twice before heading to Santa Barbara County.

Of the total number of visitors to the Santa Ynez Valley, 80 percent are from Southern California, Sim said. The remaining tourists hail from Central/Northern California (10 percent)
and from other states and other countries (10 percent).

“Our thoughts are with our coastal neighbors. The loss of life is heartbreaking: First the fires, then the horrific mudslides. We are doing whatever we can to help; our hoteliers are offering
deeply discounted rooms, and our community has been donating items for those in need,” he said.

He noted that many area businesses are also hosting fundraisers — those already held at Flying Flags Mobile Home Park in Buellton and on Industrial Way, and those planned for Los Olivos this Saturday, Jan. 20.

“It is a challenging time; I can only imagine what others (directly affected) are going through, but the way everyone has come together makes it easier,” he said.

“We hope everyone understands that business must go on. Our hotels and businesses have been affected, and we must do everything we can to keep our tourism economy going. We are hoping
that the 101 will be open for everyone and that Restaurant Week will help kick start the year.”

Visit the Santa Ynez Valley’s Restaurant Week starts Sunday and will continue through Saturday, Jan. 27.

While the eighth annual event was conceived to bring visitors to the valley during a slower month, the SYV Restaurant Week “has become one of our most anticipated events of the year,”
Sim said.

“Many locals across Santa Barbara County come out to revisit and discover what’s new, while folks from across the state have it in their calendars to visit the Santa Ynez Valley during this
very exciting gastronomical week.”

In just three years, participation in the event has blossomed from 18 to 28 restaurants, several area wineries have joined up to offer $20.18 tasting flights with cheese or chocolates and hotels
are offering discounted rooms, he said.

For more information, reservations and menus from participating restaurants, wineries, hotels and hours, visit the website

The Lompoc Valley Restaurant Week returns in February, running from Feb. 19 through Feb. 25.

Sponsored by the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Bureau and Shop Lompoc, Shop Small, the event will feature restaurant and winery specials.

The event will allow dining patrons to enjoy a prix-fixe meal, a two-for-one dining option, or participation in a special event, all for just $20.18 plus tax and tip. Some eateries may also offer
wine or beer pairings for an additional fee.

The participating businesses and their respective specials will be listed on the Chamber website starting Monday.

Restaurant Week in the Santa Maria Valley took place Jan. 14 to Jan.20 and participating businesses included wineries on Foxen Canyon Road and in Orcutt, and several restaurants throughout the region.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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