As someone who grew up in Oak Park near Westlake Village, Elaine Andersen Morello left a piece of herself there — one she always intended to get back.

After achieving success with the opening of Olio E Limone Ristorante near Victoria Court in downtown Santa Barbara in 1999, and gradually expanding next door into Olio Pizzeria in 2010 and then Olio Crudo Bar in February, Morello began to shift focus back to her hometown an hour south.

She signed a lease in July 2013 to be one of the first tenants within The Shoppes at Westlake Village, unintentionally starting a trend that has led other Santa Barbara favorites to since sign on for their first foray outside the county.

Jeannine’s Gourmet Food Hall signed a lease around the same time and opened last month, along with Hook Burger, the brainchild of local Brent Reichard, who co-founded The Habit Burger in Goleta.

Los Agaves Restaurant will begin serving its signature Mexican fare there in January, just up the way from a new Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. taproom and on-site brewery, set to open in February or March.

Construction and permitting delays have pushed an opening date for Olio E Limone Ristorante and Olio Pizzeria into March 2015, but being a bit later to the party — although actually one of the first — doesn’t make the move any less of a homecoming.

“We’ve had Westlake Village on our radar for over eight years now,” Morello said. “It’s a logical extension of our brand, without going deep into L.A.

“We are glad we held out for The Shoppes as we have confidence this new center will be a winner, having Target and In-N-Out Burger as anchors is a big draw, and are entirely impressed with the professionalism and dedication to the community of Selleck Development Group.”

The Shoppes boasting so many Santa Barbara brands was anything but coincidence.  

Jeannine’s Baking’s new location in Westlake Village features a 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio in addition to a 7,500-square-foot interior space. (Contributed photo)

Selleck Development Group, which owns The Shoppes at 30770 Russell Ranch Road off the Lindero Canyon Road exit of Highway 101, sought out Santa Barbara brands for the relatively new shopping center because the demographics so nicely mirrored those of Westlake, said Dan Selleck, president of the Westlake-based firm.

Target anchors The Shoppes and opened in July, while fellow anchor In-N-Out Burger came online this week.

Not including the space Target occupies, Selleck said, Santa Barbara businesses make up 22 percent of the center.

By next April, the shopping center will be entirely opened and leased with tenants Selleck hopes will stay on long term.

“I think they’re going to do really well,” he said.

Jeannine’s extended its locally revered, 30-year-old family-owned and operated bakery to Westlake in Suite G, adjacent to Buellton-based Figueroa Mountain, which will partner with Jeannine’s by serving food from its menu.

Jeannine’s Baking President Gordon Hardey explained the model as slightly different than the Santa Barbara and Montecito locations, since Westlake has 7,500 square feet inside and 2,000 square feet on an outdoor patio, compared to less than 2,500 total square feet.

The Food Hall features a house bakery, coffee bar, Jeannine’s deli, a sushi and noodle bar, wood-fire flatbread and rotisserie, bespoke salad bar, cheese and charcuterie, a whiskey bar, takeaway options and more.

“It is an underserved market and has great potential for growth in the food-service sector,” Hardey said. “Due to the close proximity, it is a market that might have some familiarity with the Jeannine’s of Santa Barbara.”

Since so many Los Agaves customers were from the Westlake area, and eager for a closer dining option, owner Carlos Luna said choosing The Shoppes was easy.

“We were approached at the early stages of development at Westlake and were excited for the opportunity to bring our cuisine south of Santa Barbara,” Luna said. “We’re looking to open in Santa Monica after Westlake opens. We plan to stay regional for now, but are definitely keeping our options open so long as our customers are happy.” 

Hook Burger opened its fifth location last month to favorable results, something owner Reichard hopes will continue as more local neighbors move in.

Although she would’ve liked to be the only local joint moving into the center, Morello said she has high hopes for Olio.

If all goes according to plan, she said, an Olio Crudo Bar could open in Westlake as well.

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