Wednesday, August 15 , 2018, 5:05 am | Fair 65º



Waterline Completes Niche-Perfect Funk Zone Complex Blending Beer, Wine, Food and Crafts

With addition of The Guilded Table and its artisan-made merchandise, Lower Santa Barbara Street project readies for grand opening Thursday


With more wineries than many large cities, there’s plenty of competition for businesses in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, the community’s unofficial boutique wine, beer and arts district.

One of the Funk Zone’s most prominent newcomers, however, seeks to alleviate that competition — at least within its own walls.

Celebrating its grand opening Thursday evening is the Waterline, an adaptive reuse project at 120 Santa Barbara St. that is effectively a Funk Zone within the Funk Zone.

When the Waterline made its debut last May, it opened with the Nook restaurant and Lama Dog Tap Room & Bottle Shop. Los Olivos-based Blair Fox Cellars and Ventura-based Topa Topa Brewing Co. followed in October, and The Guilded Table “artisan collective” a month later.

“Our strategy was to offer variety at affordable price points by picking operators who have a unique niche or a unique product that they were good at,” said Barrett Reed, who founded the Waterline with business partner John Goodman.

“We wanted people to stick to their unique product or niche.”

Topa Topa and Pete Burnham’s Lama Dog may both sell beer, he said, but the former brews its own, and the latter is focused on local craft beers and the bottle shop aspect of the trade.

Combined with Blair Fox Cellars’ own wine, prominent local chef Norbert Schulz’s menu at the Nook and local artisans’ displays within The Guilded Table, and the Waterline hits each of the Funk Zone’s boutique sectors without stepping on each others’ toes, Reed said.

Santa Barbara’s tourist community isn’t quite at full force year-round, Goodman added, meaning it was imperative to attract locals.

“The real simple answer to that was to make sure that we found local operators who had followings — who had a team or web of connections locally — so that they were going to bring in Santa Barbara-area residents here and not just tourists,” he said.

That same focus on local businesses and concepts that would complement rather than compete with each other was also the strategy for The Guilded Table, said Goodman’s wife, Kassie.

Kassie Goodman said she would talk with personal connections about who could fill the collective’s display spaces, browse Instagram for local craftspeople with significant followings, and ultimately curate the space based on who would complement who.

Most Waterline businesses have committed to showcasing their products — which are available for purchase — for at least a year.

The Guilded Table now displays everything from clothing to leatherwork to jewelry to art, from local enterprises such as Blanka, BED STÜ, Asher Market and Jules by the Sea Santa Barbara.

“We picked stuff that works together but has really obvious overlapping markets,” John Goodman said. “It’s rare that there’s someone who comes in to any of these spaces who doesn’t want to go into the others.”

One of their initial goals, he said, was to have visitors explore the whole property, “and not feel the need to go to one spot and then leave an hour later to go to another spot three blocks away.”

The Guilded Table, however, isn’t only intended for passive perusal, Kassie Goodman said.

Its artisans hold workshops, demonstrations and talks about how they produce their products. Local artists hold painting workshops in the space, which sometimes doubles as a communal art studio.

In the future, Reed said, they hope to expand their event lineup to include community barbecues, more live music and “our version of community TED Talks” with local officials.

Even as Reed and the Goodmans settle into their Funk Zone digs, another, somewhat-bigger Waterline-like project is in the works for Lower State Street, Reed noted. The details remain under wraps.

The Waterline’s Thursday grand opening is 6 to 9 p.m., and will feature Guilded Table workshops and live music by Bad Leaf.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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