SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — It’s a tradition unlike any other for those who chow down on Chinese food each Christmas.
Throughout the evening at China Pavilion on Chapala Street, the phone was ringing off the hook while the staff was hard at work preparing many meals.
Peter Chen has owned the restaurant for the past 15 years.
“Every year, Christmas Day is the busiest day,” he said.
“We are so busy,” China Pavilion manager Lisa Nogavich said. “Even when we are not open yet, we have some customers waiting outside.”
On a typical year, the mom-and-pop shop for kung pao chicken and sticky rice would be packed with people dining indoors.
However, this year it’s takeout orders only because of the county’s regional stay-at-home order.
This resulted in some lengthy delays with orders.
“It’s a lot of people coming in,” one customer Bryan Velasquez said. “They say the wait is like at least for 30 minutes.”
Since the pandemic began, China Pavilion’s staff has been cut down by two-thirds.
“Sometimes there’s too many orders at the same time,” Chen said.
Hanukkah already happened last week, so some Jews were out and about.
Each year, Tommy Johnson and his family celebrate this evening with a Chinese meal.
“It’s just been a Jewish tradition for us,” he said. “My mom was raised Jewish so she keeps it going."
"We do Chinese food every year, so I’m happy to call it in and come pick it up.”
Claire Liboiron and her husband decided to stay home for the holidays in order to avoid a large family gathering.
“We were not going to cook a big turkey,” she said. “So I said let’s do something for a business here in town.”
Despite long lines at times, it was all about enjoying this tasty tradition at home.
“Our go-to is always orange chicken, beef and broccoli of course,” one customer Tyler Medearis said.
“We have duck, scallops and mushroom bok choy,” Liboiron concluded.
China Pavilion fulfilled over 150 to-go orders last night.