Friday, May 25 , 2018, 2:39 pm | A Few Clouds 65º



Santa Barbara Offers Flightline Rental Relief as Aviation-Themed Restaurant Nears Takeoff

The site on city-owned airport land was formerly the Elephant Bar and High Sierra Grill restaurants

The Santa Barbara City Council voted to give rent relief to the Flightline restaurant near the airport, which is transitioning from the former High Sierra Grill. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara City Council voted to give rent relief to the Flightline restaurant near the airport, which is transitioning from the former High Sierra Grill.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara City Council voted to give rental relief to the restaurant at the site of the former High Sierra Grill and Elephant Bar, on city-owned land near the airport. 

The restaurant at 521 Firestone Road is transforming into Flightline, an aviation-themed restaurant.

New general manager and investor Warren Butler is busy overseeing the remodeling of the restaurant and this week he received a financial boost from the city of Santa Barbara.

The City Council gave the restaurant “rent relief” of $3,175 a month, dropping the rate from $12,700 to $9,525, which amounts to a discount of $38,100 annually.

“While it is very uncommon to provide rent relief to any tenant, it is not unprecedented,” Santa Barbara Airport Director Hazel Johns said.

“The airport did provide rent relief to some tenants in the wake of the Great Recession in 2009-2010.”

Johns said the airport has only provided relief after “careful analysis and a determination” that the city and airport’s interests would be better served by reducing rent rather than having a vacant property.

Johns said there is a very competitive environment for restaurants.

“There are a number of restaurant properties that are vacant in the area, including in the highly-trafficked Camino Real Marketplace,” Johns said. “Because the High Sierra Grill intends to rebrand its concept, and make additional investment in the process,, we recognized the long-term benefit of a temporary rent relief while the rebranding takes place.”

The lease with the city is for 10 years.

“Our hope is that they will right the ship and ultimately become successful,” Johns said.

Flightline has agreed to pay $50 per day in additional rent if the rent is paid late. It is due on the first day of every month, and is considered late if not paid by the fifth day of every month.

Warren Butler is the new general manager and investor for the Flightline restaurant at 521 Firestone Road. Click to view larger
Warren Butler is the new general manager and investor for the Flightline restaurant at 521 Firestone Road.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Butler has partnered with Montecito resident John Blankenship, a former U.S. Navy pilot who started the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, to deck out the new restaurant with planes, photographs, helmets, masks and a variety of military plane memorabilia.

“It’s exciting,” Butler said. “It is going to be a really big part of the community. People are really appreciating that we are recognizing all these periods in history.”

The restaurant is already decorated with framed photos and model WWII fighter jets.

It is open during the transition to Flightline, and Butler is waiting on city approval for a new sign. 

“This will be a great place for people to dine, eat, gather and appreciate the airport,” Butler said.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

The Flightline has military plane memorabilia throughout the restaurant. Click to view larger
The Flightline has military plane memorabilia throughout the restaurant. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

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