Closed Deal: 330 State Street leased for new restaurant

After starting three successful Santa Barbara restaurants, Tom and Adam White are preparing to launch a fourth in the spring of 2011. The Whites, who own and operate Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., the Santa Barbara FisHouse, and the Boat House, have just leased 5,368 sf at 330 State Street for a new restaurant location. The space, formerly occupied by One World Imports, has a prominent corner location with parking at the corner of Gutierrez Street. It is also immediately adjacent to the building just leased by Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) for its Santa Barbara store, also slated to open in 2011. Michael Martz, Kristopher Roth, and Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial Group represented all parties in the transaction.

“These two leases show the resilience of downtown Santa Barbara, even at a time when most cities are struggling with high retail vacancies,” said Michael Martz of Hayes Commercial Group. “Here we have a national retailer and a local restaurant family both investing in the commercial potential of Santa Barbara. It’s a positive sign.”

The Whites have built a successful family business in Santa Barbara over the past 30 years. Tom White opened the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company on Stearns Wharf back in 1980, which began as a wholesale source for fresh fish and evolved into a popular eatery among locals and visitors alike. Almost 20 years later, with son Adam now a part of the business, they opened The Santa Barbara FisHouse at 101 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Most recently, the father-son team launched the Boat House at Hendry’s Beach in 2008. The fourth restaurant will be their first foray into the State Street retail corridor.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us, and the Hayes Commercial team did a great job putting this deal together,” Adam White said. “We are developing a new concept that we believe has the potential to become a Santa Barbara classic. Given the location outside the prime tourist zone, locals are key to the concept, and we are creating a place that Santa Barbarans will love.” The Whites will be extensively remodeling the space. Adam continued, “as we did with the Boat House, we are assembling a great team of local architectural and design minds to create an interesting and inviting atmosphere.” Their crew includes engineer Ken Dixon of Windward Engineering , contractor Skye McGinnes, and they are also talking to architect Jeff Shelton about creating a unique look for the interior.

330 State Street, and the adjacent building leased by REI, have a long and varied history. The complex at 316-330 State Street was originally built from 1911-1917 by Henry Ernest Bothin, a coffee and spice merchant based in San Francisco. At that time Gutierrez Street was part of the old Highway 101, and the buildings hosted various automotive businesses on the ground floor, such as the El Camino Real Motor Car Company, and the El Camino Hotel on the second floor. The buildings survived the 1925 earthquake, but the façades were lost and replaced with a Moorish-style arcade and façade which is still largely intact. 330 State Street’s distinctive tower was added in 1937 for Seaside Oil Company, which was headquartered there and operated a filling station there for decades (see attached photo). During World War II, 316-324 State Street was used by Douglas Aircraft to manufacture airplane parts. In 1974, the Bothin Helping Fund gave 330 State Street to the nonprofit Work, Inc. and sold 316-324 State Street to Marshall Howe. Ray Hicks and Georgette Topakas have owned 330 State Street since 2002.