BizHawk: Bob Stout’s Little Kitchen in Santa Barbara Closes After Six Years | Business

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The kitchen is closed.

Nestled nicely next to the iconic Wildcat Lounge lived the Little Kitchen, a quaint lunch and dinner spot that brought some food flair to the zero block of West Ortega Street in Santa Barbara.

Owned by Bob Stout, the friendly dean of downtown who owns the Wildcat, the restaurant served as a popular side-street escape for quality food off the main drag of State Street.

But you can’t fight fate. Like many restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Little Kitchen, which served burgers, salads, tacos and other dishes, has closed its doors. Thursday was the final day of business.

“I am really sad about it,” Stout told Noozhawk. “I am putting on a happy face, but it’s bittersweet.”

Stout is a veteran of restaurants and night clubs. He owned Zelo on State Street, Blue Agave on East Cota Street and Sojourner on East Canon Perdido Street.

“People probably don’t know that I am as much of a restaurant guy as I am a bar and nightclub kind of guy,” Stout said. 

Stout enjoyed the different kinds of crowds who visited Little Kitchen, a break from the nightclub scene.

“It’s been shocking to hear a baby crying at a table and go over and see, ‘Oh, you’re not 21, it’s OK,'” he joked. “To take crayons and coloring pads to a kid and watch how much better it is for the folks to eat while their kids color.”

But the good times only last so long. 

“After six years and not being as profitable as a small business needs to be,” COVID-19 hit the restaurant hard, according to Stout.

The restaurants on State Street without outdoor dining experienced a boost in foot traffic after the city closed the street to vehicles and created a promenade. Some of the restaurants with parklets on side streets didn’t experience the same amount of increase in sales.

The good news is that there will be a restaurant to fill Little Kitchen’s spot. Stout said Cindi Black, the original sole proprietor of The Blue Owl, will open a new restaurant at the site, called St. Bibiana.

She plans a soft opening in April and will formally open in May. 

“She’s really great at healthy, innovative pizzas,” Stout said. “She’ll have beer and wine, and she has some tricks up her sleeve.”

Stout, by the way, isn’t going anywhere. His iconic Wildcat Lounge remains open and is a community icon, a party destination for generations of locals and tourists.

Big Commercial Property Sale

Majestic Asset Management has purchased a six-building research and development campus across 11.9 acres in Goleta.

The buildings were part of a portfolio commercial properties managed by The Towbes Group, according to Hayes Commercial Group. With a closing price of $50.7 million, it was the fourth highest sale for a commercial, non-hotel property on the South Coast.

“Majestic has become the most prominent value-add management firm on the South Coast,” Francis DeJohn said. “They are always looking to invest in buildings and elevate them to top-quality projects. Majestic has changed the office/R&D landscape in Goleta, while facilitating the growth of the area’s tech, engineering, medical device, and defense sector.”

DeJohn and Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial Group represented the buyer in the transaction.

The property is at 315-346 Bollay Drive and 320-340 Stork Road, near the corner of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue.

Majestic Asset Management owns, develops and manages investment property primarily in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Majestic plans to rename the campus Tech Park @ Engage, according to Hayes Commercial Group.

County Unemployment Down

Santa Barbara County unemployment for February was 4.3%, down from 8% a year ago, according to the Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board.

Unemployment is down across the state and the nation. In California, it is 4.8%, and 4.1% in the United States. That’s down from 8.9% and 6.6% , respectively.

Santa Maria has the highest unemployment rate at 8.9%, followed by Lompoc at 5.5%. Next is Carpinteria at 3.4%. 

Wingman Rodeo Opens New Spot

Wingman Rodeo, which serves chicken wings, is now serving its food inside The Neighborhood Bar, 235 W. Montecito St. in Santa Barbara.

“Wingman Rodeo @wingmanrodeo is now serving mouthwatering comfort food for The Neighborhood Bar,” the company posted on Instagram recently.

In addition to wings, it sells pulled pork sandwiches, Nashville hot chicken, and hot burritos, according to Instagram.

— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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