Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 3:42 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

Business

Pickle Room Opens a New Era for Famed Santa Barbara Bar

Father and son, Bob and Clay Lovejoy have been working for nearly a year on revamping and conserving the legacy of one of Santa Barbara’s classic cocktail lounges, which they opened last month and christened as the “Pickle Room.”

Next door is their Three Pickles Deli + Sub, which the Lovejoys have had great success with, so pickles had to be in the name. It’s fitting that a family should open a new business there, as well; the location at 126 E. Canon Perdido was once the legendary “Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens” — a family owned and operated restaurant and lounge from 1947 until 2006 under the guidance of the Chung family.

Today it’s the Lovejoy family carrying on the tradition. That’s why when you walk into the bar and look at the windows with the Chinese symbols of “double happiness” one can imagine the building and family are giving the new owners a nod of approval. It’s a family thing.

Getting the building is a real dream come true for Bob Lovejoy, who moved to Santa Barbara from Burbank in late 1975 and two years later opened Lovejoy Design. For 37 years, he presided over the marble, tile and glass brick installation/contracting business.

“Jimmy’s is where I would come after working to relax and enjoy the company of the patrons and my dear friend, Willy Gilbert, the bartender who over the years has become one of my closet friends," Lovejoy said.

"Willy was also rather famous for his jazz collection, which was the soundtrack for the bar.”

Inspired by the memory of the mood-setting music, Lovejoy added, “Sonos Sound is designing a great sound system for the bar that will further identify the kind of atmosphere we want to have in our new room.”

Sitting in the heart of what was once downtown Santa Barbara's bustling Chinatown and Japantown, it is one of the few original buildings left in the area. The Lovejoy family — Bob, Clay, Dawn, Athena and Martha — has made a sizable donation to the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation to fund an Asian Museum, which is to open in 2014, in the most unusual setting you’re likely to come across: a museum inside a cocktail lounge. The historical facts will focus on the impact the Chinese and Japanese people made in the area with a spotlight the Chung family.

“We want to honor our neighborhood’s heritage, especially those who worked here in this building, so they aren’t forgotten for their important contributions to this community,” Clay Lovejoy said.

“Think of it as a great conversation starter,” he winked.

Building on this legacy, the Lovejoys have restored the vibrant red bar to its original length, fitting perfectly under the pagoda-styled roof, as it was when it opened 66 years ago. Lovejoy said he has “a reverence for what’s old and Californian,” having come from a family whose business was American antiques. His sensibilities in design play out in every square inch of the lounge.

“I want this place to evoke memories of a 1940s cocktail lounge,” he said.

Red, black and gold — traditional Chinese décor — are the colors used throughout. Vintage pin-up posters of Asian women that adorned the bar previously are back on the walls. There are lots of little touches you’ll notice that honor the Chinese roots here.

The original sign that hung outside Jimmy’s now dominates the back wall of the bar. Tommy Chung, who took over the reins from his dad, Jimmy, in the 1970s, gave the Lovejoys his permission to use the sign.

Not only is the building making a great comeback, longtime favorite bartenderWilly Gilbert who worked at Jimmy’s for 25+ years, has returned to his old stomping grounds to manage the bar and work three nights.

“I will be juggling my time between the Pickle Room and another venerable restaurant where I have been for six-plus years, and am very fortunate and excited to be working in both establishments,” he said with a smile.

The Lovejoys and Gilbert have designed a great cocktail menu with classic drinks alongside the new handcrafted cocktails now so in vogue using house made simple syrup. House special drinks made with tequila, rum, whiskey, gin and vodka all get their signature drinks: Willy’s Hornitas Margarita; Tommy's Mai Tai; Old Fashioned; Singapore Sling; and Moscow Mule.

Three of the 10 bottled beers will be Asian, including Tsing-Tao Chinese rice beer.

“We’ll have four wines available by the glass: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and a house red," he said. "Plus, I have my personal favorite Pinot Noir wines, which I’m going to make available to purchase by the bottle.”

Chef Weston Richards, whose work at Julienne and Wine Cask was heralded, helped to design the menu and will be executive chef in the kitchen a few nights of the week. Lovejoy’s menu will have a rotating special nightly, such as lasagna, eggplant Parmesan or chicken Parmesan. Clay Lovejoy’s face really lights up when you start talking food; his background in the meat business comes into play here and at the deli next door..

“We’re going to grind our own meats for the house special meatball and spaghetti (that’s singular on purpose as the dish will have one big meatball) and burgers," he said. "Also on the menu will be a Pastrami Dip, deep-fried pickles and in a polite nod to the Chinese legacy, Chinese Chicken Salad and Combination Fried Rice — plus a hybrid we’ve just created the Reuben Eggroll, using Russian dressing as the dipping sauce.”

There are lots of "regulars" who are looking forward to seeing the place reopen. One of those is longtime Santa Barbara resident and artist Gary Chafe. His painting of the old Jimmy’s is also the T-shirt for the new room and the apparel is available for purchase.

Additionally, Lovejoy’s will be able to offer Three Pickles Deli as a new location for small, private events or parties.

“We’ll close the deli at 3:30 and be able to offer event planners an alternative space for after-work options starting around 5 p.m,” he explained.

Lovejoy's Pickle Room, 126 E. Canon Perdido, is open Monday through Saturday, with bar hours 4:30 to 11 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; kitchen hours 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 5:30 p.m. to midnight Thursday-Saturday; and happy hour 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

Connect with Lovejoy's Pickle Room on Facebook, or call 805.965.1015 for more information.

— Maureen McFadden is a publicist representing Lovejoy’s Pickle Room.

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 through Stripe below, 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
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

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.

  • 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 Cimme Eordanidis
Cimme Eordanidis
"Since I truly enjoy doing what I do, interacting with people and representing them during one of life's most exciting events is very rewarding."

Full Profile >