SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The owners of Beachside Bar-Cafe, the oceanfront restaurant in Goleta Beach Park that's become a longtime local favorite, announced Thursday on Facebook that the restaurant will be permanently closing after 36 years in business.
In the post, Dave and Peggy Hardy say the restaurant will remain open for takeout until late January or until inventories last. The post has nearly 400 comments from disappointed locals and out-of-town visitors who feel a deep connection to the revered restaurant.
Dave and Peggy say they were planning to retire in the near future, but the COVID-19 pandemic sped up that timeline.
“Unfortunately, we just can’t go on anymore,” said Dave, explaining that the mounting costs became too much for the business to handle. The building's lease is up with Santa Barbara County next year.
The economic crisis had already forced the restaurant to cut its staff from about 100 employees to 15, who will now also be losing their jobs. Dave and Peggy say their "biggest heartbreak" is being unable to carry on the business for their remaining staff.
“They were the heart and soul, they are the reason Beachside has survived the year it has survived,” Peggy said.
“They’ve been there 25 to 30 years and they love the place,” Dave added. “And they’ve got families. And we’re real concerned. We’re trying to help any way we can.”
As the news of the impending closure spread, dozens of customers lined up outside the restaurant or called ahead for takeout, keeping the shorthanded staff scrambling to keep up with orders.
Ann Rasmussen has been a loyal customer for more than 30 years. She visited the restaurant Thursday night and then again on Friday, still emotional that the business is closing.
“My sister went to UCSB and worked here, her husband used to manage it,” Rasmussen said. “One of my other close friends used to manage it… All the different graduation dinners, birthdays, weddings, etcetera that we’ve done here. It just breaks our heart.”
“You feel like you’re at home here,” said Christy Condon, who has been visiting the restaurant for more than a decade. “To be able to sit at the ocean and eat a meal at the quality of this restaurant, is amazing.”
Rasmussen lauded the Hardys' effort to create a special atmosphere throughout the years.
“Even though management has changed, they’ve always just made you feel like it was your home, like your backyard,” she said.
Dave and Peggy wanted to cultivate that familial feeling at the restaurant and are proud to see the community's outpouring of support.
“We have had so many people that have met their best friends at Beachside,” Dave said. “Employees, and marriages and babies… It’s more than a business. It’s a real part of human existence. I’m proud that people are gonna miss us. I wish it didn’t have to come to an end.
“It’s meaningful, and I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”