Skip to Content

Isla Vista Food Co-op establishes roots in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Isla Vista Food Co-op, a longtime reliable source of food in a town without a grocery store, has expanded to Santa Barbara.

This second store has opened on the corner of State St. and Arrellaga St. in the upper downtown area. It took 52 years to get to this point and officially have two stores.

It was formerly Cantwell's Market and the Cantwell's Deli name remains for those going inside for a sandwich, breakfast burrito or coffee.

It is a neighborhood location and many customers come and go on foot or a bike. It also serves hotel guests nearby.

The ribbon cutting earlier this month came after thousands of pounds of produce and products arrived.

"We needed to be able to move, not from I.V. but beyond I.V.  so that we maintain we  our original store which is dedicated to all of the things that we have always been but we have the opportunity to step into this neighborhood , get to know what these folks want and be a service to this community," said I.V. Food Co-op president Lisa Oglesey.

This is the county's only community-owned co-op grocery store. Inside many items are locally sourced, and labels indicate where they came from. Some of the produce on the shelves could be the same as you will see from a grower at the farmer's market down the street.

The co-op plan allows customers to become owners and enjoy membership benefits ranging from special prices to a voting voice on the operational plan. The store is open to the public whether you are a member or not. The fee for those who want to support the store at the membership level is $30 a year. For a lifetime membership it is $150.

In addition to the deli and produce, the store has many products or brands you will not see in a mainstream grocery store. It also has a full selection of wine similar to what Cantwell's offered.

Devyn Voigtsberger picked up a few items and said, "It was a fun little surprise to have to be able to have them here instead of going to Isla Vista." She was a customer in I.V. when she lived there. Now she is in downtown.

One downtown resident and employee said, "I live two blocks that way and I work that way so I can walk to it." Aidan Mathews had some sandwiches from the deli and a quick checkout, something he may not get so easily at a larger store.

"We are trying to  not only insure there's healthy food  but there's affordable options for folks so we make sure at whatever price point and whatever diet you are following there is something for you," said Oglesey.

That includes more fresh fruits and vegetables, many from area ranches that often sell at farmers markets.

I.V. Food Co-op's Sadie McDade said, "that was one of the first things we were focused on, bringing fresh local accessible produce to the area." One the shelves, broccoli and cauliflower were sourced from Santa Maria. Chard was from Goleta. Other produce items had signs with the name of the ranch where it was grown or country it was sourced from.

A selection of organic eggs were in the refrigerators. Small batch producers were on the shelves, some who were establishing their labels or growing their businesses.

Some booths in the front of the store are available for customers enjoying a bite to eat, something not often seen in a grocery store.

For more information go to: Isla Vista Food Co-op.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Isla Vista Food Co-op
Santa Barbara

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

John Palminteri

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


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content