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Film festival spotlight will shine on local businesses at the waterfront this year

Chomp on the Rocks
Restaurants like CHOMP on the rocks at the Santa Barbara Harbor are hoping for a spike when the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has its nearby drive-in movies March 31 - April 10. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Chomp on the Rocks
Restaurants are seeking many new employees as coronavirus rules relax and customers return.(Photo: John Palminteri)
Chomp on the Rocks
Restaurants like CHOMP on the rocks at the Santa Barbara Harbor are hoping for a spike when the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has its nearby drive-in movies March 31 - April 10. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With the new hybrid Santa Barbara International Film Festival, waterfront businesses should get a welcomed boost in customers.

Nearby at Santa Barbara City College, hundreds of cars will be coming and going to see films in the drive-in setting.

Before and after the movies, the viewers could be looking for that special place to get together for a drink or a meal.

Already anticipating a spike in business, Aaron Petersen with Salty at the Beach and Chomp on the Rocks restaurants is looking forward to movie fans, along with the normal flow of customers, enjoying his waterfront settings.

The restaurants are downstairs and on top in the historic Maritime building at the Santa Barbara Harbor.

Normally the festival is a boost to downtown State Street-area businesses when the theaters in that footprint are used. They are not part of the plan this year due to the pandemic.

The festival has the LED big screen drive-in option and online pay-per-view for tributes, feature films and panel discussions.

This comes at a time when all restaurants in the area have been trying to rebound from the early year COVID-19 setbacks that restricted inside dining. Now with a limited inside capacity, outside seating and good weather, the flow of customers is coming back.

It's good for the business, and good for the employees who have been nervous about their income in 2021 with either a paycheck, stimulus money or unemployment.

Aaron PetersenCHOMP on the Rocks owner

"Instead of canceling again, it is here outside right across the street at the city college parking lot.  It's going to be great," said Petersen.

He is stocking up for in person and carry out customers.
"We've ordered to-go items boxes and things, because we aren't sure. People are going to want to picnic, grab them and go.   I've talked to the Breakwater, I've talked to Brophy's, we've all added staff," he said.

One server who picked up a lower paying job during the pandemic slow down at the restaurants is not only happy to see the economy rebounding but also the festival.

"This restaurant reopened so I came back here as a server and make a bunch more money, so I am pretty excited," said Dominic  Marchietti.

 The uncertainty has been hard on many workers. 
Petersen said" It's been a  very, very tough year for them obviously."

Recently high school football nearby has also been a boost. That's normally a fall sport.


"We had the parents before the JV game, the parents in between with some of the players. It is what it is going to be in the fall. It's fantastic,  having some of the families in here right across the street," said Petersen.

And there is room for more.

  
"We've been busy but we haven't been absolutely like non stop absolutely slammed  all day.  I think it is going to happen with the film festival.  It's going to be a lot of hard work," said Marchietti.

Petersen said he is also adding to his kitchen staff to continue ramping up to meet the increasing demand.

Business Matters / Coronavirus / Economy / Entertainment / Events / Health / Lifestyle / Safety / Santa Barbara - South County
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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