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Santa Maria commercial center seeing growth in business and popularity

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Small business owners at one, long-dormant commercial center in Santa Maria are hopeful about a prosperous 2022.

The Skyway Center at the corner of South Broadway and Lakeview Drive, located on the southern edge of the city, has for years been mostly vacant.

But in recent years new businesses and restaurants have opened in the center with more on the way.

"Our new year is going to bring us more business, bigger and better, I hope", said Hannah Golden with Fire and Vice Restaurant that opened only recently.

"We're trying to make it a food destination", said Chef Mike McDonald who opened The Salty Brigade Kitchen in the Skyway Center earlier this year, "hopefully down the line we can do a farmers market in the parking lot."

It's been a struggle for many of the small business owners in the center over the past two years having to navigate Covid-19 public health restrictions and protocols, shutting down their stores and then re-opening, finding reliable staff and dealing with various supply chain issues.

"Yeah, biggest challenge", said Sun Ho who opened his popular Vietnamese restaurant Viet Kitchen in the Skyway Center three years ago, "we have a new staff, new people, very hard to find good ones."

"Not being able to get in our products from different vendors on certain days, it's been a real struggle", added Chef Mike McDonald from The Salty Brigade Kitchen.

"And many of the businesses, when they were able to re-open, saw a lot of people come back but maybe not their employees", said Glenn Morris with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, "so they've had this kind of a yo-yo cycle that's been going on for the last two years."

Skyway Center tenants are in position to benefit from a huge new apartment building project planned right behind their stores in the Skyway Center.

The approved and permitted "Elements" project includes more than 160 apartment units and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

Which means more foot traffic and business at the Skyway Center when the project is completed.

"I'm looking forward to that very much", said Mike McDonald from The Salty Brigade Kitchen.

And likely future prosperity for the small business owners in the Skyway Center who've managed to keep their doors open and the lights on despite the challenging times.

"I hope people start coming out", said the Viet Kitchen's Sun Ho, "don't be afraid, spend the money, eat good food, meet good people."

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Keith Carls

Keith Carls is a reporter at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Keith, click here.

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