[BizHawk is published weekly, and includes items of interest to the business community. Share your business news, including employee announcements and personnel moves, by emailing news@noozhawk.com.]

The former Maggie’s Restaurant on State Street in Santa Barbara has a new owner, and he hopes to fill a casual dining void with the opening of Benchmark Eatery.

Longtime local and serial purveyor John Bennett said the restaurant is slated to open at 1201 State St. in May, following some cosmetic renovations.

Bennett and his mother, Susan, already own Brophy Brothers Restaurant and On the Alley — both on Harbor Way— and also recently acquired the Cliff Room on the Mesa.

They’re taking over the former Maggie’s from owners Margaret and Barry Shulman, who closed up shop last October after just 14 months in business. The restaurant had been closed for nine months prior for extensive renovations after the closure of longtime staple State and A Bar & Grill.

Benchmark Eatery will mirror Bennett’s casual attitude and offer a menu with reasonable prices and a variety of American fare with a local twist.

“I think the only real extension of (Brophy Brothers) will be the lively, interactive energy,” Bennett told Noozhawk, comparing his restaurants. “There’s nothing real casual where, if you’re a tourist family walking by, you could go in a grab a burger. The restaurants up there … are just a little bit more formal.”

Lynda.com Taps New Executives

Carpinteria-based online education company lynda.com has hired several new executives to its management, product, technology and business development roles in an effort to expand its global reach.

New executives include Alex Zivoder (formerly with viagogo, Expedia and Tele2 Group) as vice president and managing director of EMEA; Shveta Mujumdar (formerly with QuinStreet and Live Nation/Ticketmaster) as vice president of corporate development; Ken Sandy as vice president of product; and Michael Lydon (formerly with ValueClick and Microsoft) as vice president of technology operations.

“We’ve selected some of the best talent in the industry to expand our team and to help us continue to drive our global and domestic growth,” said Eric Robison, president and CEO of lynda.com, which provides the training in software, creative and business skills. “These new executives bring the expertise and experience required to expand our offerings and infrastructure, and ensure an outstanding experience for all our members.”

SlingShot to Open Santa Barbara Studio

SlingShot, the new art forum of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, plans to host a grand opening celebration on Thursday, Feb. 13.

The studio at 220 W. Canon Perdido St. is open Monday through Friday. Grand opening guests can visit with the artists, and artwork will be available for sale from 5 to 8 p.m. at SlingShot.

Radius Commercial Group Highlights 2013 Sales

Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments reports that the local commercial real estate market has experienced steady growth since the recession hit six years ago.

In 2012, there were 85 sales transactions, up by 142 percent over 2009’s low of 35 and equaling 2005’s 15-year high. Last year’s haul came in just shy of that mark at 83 total commercial sales, as it was difficult to match the rush of transactions completed the final weeks of 2012 when many investors sought to escape the impending capital gains tax hikes of 2013.

The firm reports sales activity has returned to pre-recession levels, and investors are now purchasing prime property for record prices.

Radius also highlighted three deals from 2013 that involved local restaurants. Those were the November Rusty’s Pizza purchase of a new location at 111 State St., the December purchase of Blush Restaurant & Lounge, and the sale of the Funk Zone’s Anacapa Project (The Lark, Figueroa Mountain Brewing and seven other tenants) at 137 Anacapa St. in October to a local investor for $11.7 million.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at gpotthoff@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.