Waves were cresting way too close to Dave Hardy’s restaurant on Saturday morning, as the owner of Goleta’s Beachside Bar-Café arrived well before the usual 11 a.m. opening in time to see the damaging winter storm’s wrath firsthand.
Hardy drove through the gusty, rain-pelted Goleta Beach Park, timing his passage between crashing waves that flowed across the road and dumped into nearby Goleta Slough.
As Hardy stood among the 15 employees working to board up windows on an already pummeled outdoor patio around 9 a.m., co-workers noticed that the restaurant’s manager was missing.
He had been swept out to sea, but was able to grab onto the pier to be rescued and taken to the hospital for a dislocated shoulder.
After the scary morning, which featured a 6-foot-high tide, the longtime restaurateur and employees were evacuated from the beach park when it closed for safety reasons.
Two days later, and the beaten Beachside Bar-Café has yet to reopen.
“It’s really up in the air,” Hardy told Noozhawk on Monday. “We’re waiting here for the county inspectors this afternoon.”
Goleta Beach Park remained closed to traffic Monday as Santa Barbara County crews worked to clear up mounds of sand and debris and to evaluate the state of the Goleta Pier, which also sustained damage.
Refugio State Beach and Gaviota State Park were also shuttered, although Refugio was expected to reopen for day visitors on Tuesday, said Eric Hjelstrom, sector supervisor for California State Parks.
The Gaviota park will be closed until further notice, as parks officials evaluate damage done when a third of the Gaviota Pier — the seaward 50 feet — fell victim to the high seas early Saturday.
“The storm damage hit us really hard at Refugio and Gaviota,” Hjelstrom said. “The short answer is it’s closed indefinitely, and we’re doing the best we can to come up with a game plan.”
Stearns Wharf and the Santa Barbara Harbor were open as usual after this weekend’s battering, including Moby Dick Restaurant, where a wave knocked out some windows.
Plenty of curious onlookers traveled on foot or bike Monday to survey the damage at Goleta Beach Park.
Hardy’s employees worked to wrangle about a foot of wet sand from the outdoor patio in hopes of reopening soon.
Exactly when depends on county parks officials, who could not be reached for comment.
A couple of windows were broken, and the carpet and plywood were ruined, but Hardy said his restaurant made out pretty well considering the intensity of the worst storm Beachside has weathered during its nearly 30 years.
He credited nearby seawall rocks with saving the building.
“Hopefully sometime this week,” Hardy said of opening. “The waves were just huge. It was crazy. We did the best we could do.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.