A stroll down Arlington Square on just about any night of the week and you will be drawn to the animated laughter, glowing ambiance and delicious smells billowing out of Opal restaurant and bar near the historic Arlington Theater.  Co-owner of Opal and longtime Santa Barbara resident, Tina Takaya,  took time from the hectic schedule of running a successful restaurant amidst the eclectic yet demanding Santa Barbara standards to tell us a little bit about her taste!

Name:  Tina Takaya

Occupation:  Restaurateur, Opal Restaurant & Bar

How long in Santa Barbara?  37 years.

Best thing about Santa Barbara: Lifestyle and weather.

Notes on your downloads: I still listen to CDs!  Diana Krall, John Mayer, Lyle Lovett and Norah Jones … sultry music is my thing.

Pet peeve: When people complain about small things. We are so fortunate in the United States, most of us have very little to complain about, so I don’t like it when people focus on the small stuff.

Favorite Santa Barbara nonprofit:  We (Opal) partner with lots of different nonprofits in town since there are so many. On a personal note,  I attended the Dream Foundation Luncheon and was very impressed with all that Thom Rollerson and his team do for the terminally ill.  It was very powerful.

How you keep it green: I recycle every little bit of green waste. The recycle bin at my house is bigger than my trash can.  I save excess cooking water and use it to water my plants.

Fabulous find/treasure trove: My most treasured possession is my garden.  I am addicted to seeing things grow and nurturing something into being.  Spending time in that environment is totally zen for me.

Guilty pleasure?  Tennis. Tennis. Tennis.

Workout regimen:  Tennis.

Best meal in town:  I have to say I always have a great meal at Ca Dario.  Also Arigato for sushi.

Style icon:  I love Audrey Hepburn’s classic style and everything she was about.

Internet jones:  www.Zappos.com for shoes!

Latest read:  “Tales of a Female Nomad” by Rita Golden Gelman. It’s about a female writer who gave up everything she knew to find herself through cultural immersions throughout the world.

Latest read if no one was looking: In Style Magazine for style updates and trend watching.

If I didn’t live in Santa Barbara I’d live in: I think Santa Barbara is the perfect place.

A memorable comeback, quote or line:  My 6-year-old godchild, Haley, has a comeback that always makes me giggle.  When I tell her she forgot to do something she quips “Well, ya got me there!”

Liquid love:  Coffee. The darker the better, the thicker the better.

S.B. secret spot: The San Ysidro swimming hole. My husband, Ron, takes me there for a hike and a swim.

What motivates you: The sense that there’s good in everybody and being able to create great exchanges and good relationships with people in our restaurant is important to us. We should all be helping each other in some way and it motivates me to be part of that.  And a good top spin forehand cross-court passing shot. Save the world and do one of those, and you’ve got it.

Food Network (all over it or I’m over it?): I’m over it.  I actually don’t have the channel but I do like to keep up on what chefs are doing out there.

Best coffeehouse in town: My house!

Occupational alternate:  I would be a teacher.  Teaching young kids or working with at-risk kids is a passion of mine.

Vacation location: Nepal, Himalayas

The popular and unique Ginger Martini or the spicy Thaichini,  both Takaya originals, await you at Opal restaurant and bar. Friendly staff, an innovative menu with daily specials and a table visit from Takaya is what you can expect at this Santa Barbara gem of a bistro. Enjoy!