Santa Barbara Public Market
The Santa Barbara Public Market this week unveiled street dining after the city agreed to close the zero block of West Victoria Street to vehicles. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

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The Santa Barbara Public Market has expanded into West Victoria Street with outdoor tables and a big-screen TV.

“People are loving it,” market owner Marge Cafarelli said. “Many of our regulars are back.”

Jason Harris, Santa Barbara’s economic development manager, said the city has been working with all of the businesses in the area to help them set up outdoor dining. The public market features an indoor array of restaurants and breweries, but the COVID-19 pandemic has hobbled their ability to serve customers. 

Now, much like with State Street, the city has approved dining in the street. Harris said there wasn’t enough room for the market to set up on the sidewalk, so the city decided to allow street dining. 

“They are off to a great start,” Harris said. “Due to all the excitement and energy of the 500 block of State Street, they wanted to create an inviting atmosphere for their patrons.”

Harris said the city is now allowing vehicle access in the 1300 block and on-street parking to support the businesses on that block, which is a mix of retailers, professional services and restaurants.

“The city is wanting to support all the businesses throughout the city and downtown and find innovative approaches to meet the outdoor business operational needs that they are conducting to survive,” Harris said. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we navigate these truly challenging times.”

Paseo Nuevo Store Openings

See’s Candies has reopened inside Paseo Nuevo.

It’s a different tasting experience, however. There are no more gooey free samples while leaning over the counter inside the store. Now, those with a sweet tooth have to order outside, and workers will bring the chocolate out to them. Workers will also bring a packaged free sample.

The classic candy shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Even though Old Spanish Days Fiesta has taken on a virtual theme this year, the mall is also home to Viva! Santa Barbara, a Fiesta-themed shop owned by Rafael Martel, who also owns Mely’s Fashion on the Westside.

He is selling Fiesta attire, party dresses, T-shirts and accessories, along with men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and gifts. Fiesta pins and posters also are for sale.

Santa Barbara Airbus Offers Tours

Santa Barbara Airbus is offering free motor coach tours for children and their families.

The tour educates children about motor coach safety, new COVID-19 pandemic rules, as well as how heavy equipment runs and is maintained. 

Santa Barbara Airbus will offer tours of four buses: Myles the Motor Coach, Barbara the Big Bus, Shelby the Shuttlebus and Marcus the Mini-Coach.

The business has not run since March 23.

“While Airbus is not yet ready to reopen, the team has been actively seeking ways to reconnect safely with their local community,” the company said in a news release. “The Meet a Motor Coach event will provide a safe, fun and educational event for children and families to get out of the house to tour a motor coach and learn all about buses.”

The tours will take place between 10 a.m. and noon Aug. 7 at 750 Technology Drive in Goleta. Masks are required at all times, and 6 feet of social distancing is mandatory. No more than six people per family are allowed.

Santa Barbara TOT Declines

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to crush the local hotel market.

Hotel transient occupancy taxes in Santa Barbara plummeted 56 percent in June from the year prior.

The city ended the fiscal year nearly $5 million short of revenue projections in hotel bed taxes. The city projected a transient occupancy tax budget of $19.99 million.  

It collected about $15.1 million in TOT revenues. Overall, it was a 22.8 percent drop in hotel bed tax revenue from 2019.

Idler’s Home Expands

Idler’s Home in Santa Maria is expanding.

It is opening a new showroom at 2406 S. Broadway that will include indoor/outdoor furniture displays, a place where people can lay on and test mattresses, and a fully functioning kitchen for live cooking demonstrations. 

“Idler’s Home is dedicated to continuing to offer high-quality products and exceptional customer service to Santa Maria and the surrounding community,” human resources and marketing director Jennifer Idler said. “Moving into this larger location has allowed us to add more departments — mattresses, furniture, and outdoor products such as Marquis spas and Traeger grills — all the while selling major home appliances that we are known for.”

The showroom at 1158 W. Betteravia Road will be converted into an Idler’s furniture outlet and warehouse starting in August. 

“The Idler’s family is incredibly grateful to the Central Coast community for its ongoing support and resilience during this very difficult time,” Idler said. “Our hope is that we can make life a little less stressful for our customers by helping them make their homes more comfortable with the best products, service and prices possible.”

Idler’s Home has five stores throughout the Central Coast with showrooms in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.