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Warren Butler to Recast High Sierra Grill as Aviation-Themed ‘Flightline’ Restaurant

Restaurant at Santa Barbara Airport will remain open during the transformation to an airplane-themed eatery

Warren Butler, who owns the Butler Events Center and Marketing Express, plans to focus on his new airplane-themed Flightline restaurant near the Santa Barbara Airport. Click to view larger
Warren Butler, who owns the Butler Events Center and Marketing Express, plans to focus on his new airplane-themed Flightline restaurant near the Santa Barbara Airport.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Warren Butler has purchased the High Sierra restaurant near the Santa Barbara Airport and intends to transform the eatery into a airplane-themed experience. 

He hopes to open the Flightline restaurant, in the longtime home of the former Elephant Bar, in the first quarter of 2018. 

"I always thought this would be a great place for an aviation-themed restaurant," Butler said of the location at 521 Firestone Road, on the north side of the airport off Hollister Avenue. "And it's not only going to be about aviation. It's going to be about the history of the airport."

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, photograms, helmets, masks and a variety of military plane memorabilia. 

Butler owns the Butler Events Center in Old Town Goleta and Marketing Express, and said he plans to pull away from those businesses to focus exclusively on the new restaurant.

Butler said he started his own restaurant at the age of 22, and has managed eateries such as Wolfgang Puck, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Morton's Steakhouse.

He used to own the Stateside Cafe in Santa Barbara and the Marmalade Cafe at La Cumbre Plaza.

Warren Butler has partnered with John Blankenship to decorate the Flightline restaurant with military plane memorabilia. Click to view larger
Warren Butler has partnered with John Blankenship to decorate the Flightline restaurant with military plane memorabilia.  (Contributed photo)

Butler said he loves the restaurant because, "it's like hosting a party every night for your friends."

The Firestone Road restaurant will stay open during the renovation, Butler said.

The plan is to transform the location one room at a time.

On the inside, he plans to replace every piece of the current ski resort-like mountain theme with airport-inspired items. The TVs will feature stories about airplanes, and slideshows. He'll also sell hats and T-shirts at a gift shop.  

"People want to take something from Santa Barbara home," Butler said. 

Warren Butler plans to decorate the aviation-themed restaurant with planes, helmets and other airplane memorabilia. Click to view larger
Warren Butler plans to decorate the aviation-themed restaurant with planes, helmets and other airplane memorabilia.  (Contributed photo)

His theme for the restaurant will be a play on the old airplane mantra, "Come Fly With Us." Instead, the restaurant's slogan will be "Come Dine With Us."

Butler said he will also work to improve the consistency of the food quality and provide the best drinks in town, on par with Joe's Cafe, The Tee-Off and Harry's Plaza.

"People like a good drink," he said. "They don't like a corporate pour."

Butler said he'll give gift cards out to anyone who has a bad dining experience and that, "one way or another, people are going to have a great time."

 If people are interested in helping him develop and execute the airport theme, he said, he's happy to talk to potential partners. 

"I am gonna put all my attention into this," he 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.

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