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Even with award-winning tri-tip, Beans BBQ closes its Santa Barbara restaurant but keeps catering cooking

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -  Beans BBQ and catering wanted to be a sizzling success with a new restaurant in Santa Barbara last Spring.

In less than a year, however, the site has closed, although owner Kristi Bean says the catering will continue.

Beans has been catering for 14 years.   In the last two years, Beans won first place for tri-tip at the California Wine Festival.

The location at 1230 State Street was going to be a combination restaurant up front and catering kitchen in the back.   

Owner Kristi Bean said, "People love what we are doing it's just  the economics of our community is sometimes out of touch."

Delays on getting a beer and wine license from the State Alcohol Beverage Control department did not help the bottom line and last weekend the doors were shut. "Five months it took us to get an approval and the irony is that we got the approval 24 hours after we announced we were going to close," said Bean.

She had plans to host several events, and having alcohol sales was a part of it. "Ball games, fight nights, open mic nights, drag shows, all kinds of things that we had in store in our big venue," said Bean.

The landlord is giving the Bean family-owned restaurant the rest of the month to move out.

Even with everything in place, the restaurant industry has been challenging and the State St. promenade has not been favorable to all.    

These days the combination of inflation, food costs, rising gas prices and rent create a complex financial equation along with costs for insurance, labor, food and utilities.

On the same block recently even a national chain, McDonalds closed. Prior to Beans, the same location was the Saigon Vietnamese restaurant which closed, not just in downtown but another location on upper State St. too. Nearby the Brazil Arts restaurant closed in February.

Among the businesses to open in the downtown recently, has been the newly relocated Fresco restaurant on Canon Perdido St. near the Lobero Theatre.

The economics of running a business or finding housing these days is apparent to Bean and likely many other operators. "The rent is outrageous both on a commercial and residential front in our community and at some point  they are going to run all of us little guys  completely out of town," said Bean. "I am hoping that local governing bodies  city council take a real hard look at what is happening in our communities for small business owners rather than recruiting larger businesses from outside of the area,  Los Angeles coming in and ya know big boxing it."

The Bean family has several other jobs booked outside of the restaurant operation. "Catering is our first love, starting in 2014 in our community and we do about 40-50 giant events each year. The phone is still ringing bookings into fall of 2023 for weddings and  big events which we are real excited about."

As for another restaurant site she says, "hopefully I will be able to  find a tiny little spot with a little patio and a window and some tables that's attainable so we can keep doing what people love that we do."

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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