Restaurant owner and manager Warren Butler says the City of Santa Barbara should allow sidewalk dining again and ease up rules on parklets if it wants to promote business downtown.

“The amount of money we are going to be paying per foot is outrageous,” he said on the latest episode of the podcast Santa Barbara Talks with Josh Molina.

“Obviously, people are going to cut back, some people are going to give them up, then before you know it, we’re going back in the wrong direction.”

Butler has a long history in the restaurant business in Santa Barbara and throughout the country. He managed Wolfgang Puck and Morton’s The Steakhouse in Los Angeles, and owns the Santa Barbara Courthouse Tavern at 129 E. Anapamu St.

Butler is currently the managing partner for the Chase Restaurant, at 1012 State St., and has tangled with the city on sidewalk dining.

He also butted heads with city officials over his former Flightline Restaurant at the Santa Barbara Airport.

Butler sought a lease transfer from High Sierra Grill, but the city blocked it and the issue ended up in court. He and his business partners eventually won a $225,000 settlement, but he still was unable to open the restaurant.

“It was going to be this unbelievable, priceless thing in the community,” Butler said. “It’s really unfortunate.”

Butler is a familiar face around town. He’s a dapper dresser, and welcomes customers with handshakes and hugs.

“I just enjoy what I do,” Butler said. “I have been doing it since I was a young kid.”

In the podcast, Butler also shares stories about his youth, growing up in Boston and finding his way to Santa Barbara.

Journalist Josh Molina explores the future of our rapidly changing community with the people driving the conversation in this podcast series. Subscribe and consider a donation to this podcast by clicking here.

Molina is a veteran reporter who covered San José City Hall for the San José Mercury News. In addition to working as a reporter at Noozhawk, he teaches journalism at CSU Northridge and Santa Barbara City College. Please subscribe to his YouTube channel for more content.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at