On Nov. 4, executive chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his wife, pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee, signed a lease to bring Scratch to the historic hotel at 1295 Coast Village Road, according to Liam Murphy, a broker associate with Hayes Commercial Group who represented the hotel owners in the negotiations.
The Lees have been in business for three years and operate a group of restaurants in Los Angeles.
Montecito Inn management reached out to the husband-and-wife duo about opening up a new restaurant where the popular Montecito Café used to be, said Jim Copus, one of the brothers who owns the 88-year-old hotel and who serves as the operations manager.
Phillip Lee told Noozhawk that the dining concepts are still in the preliminary stages, but the 2,500-square-foot space will be home to more than one.
A smaller version of the original Scratch|Bar & Restaurant will seat about 16 in what Lee called an intimate space that will provide a private chef-type of experience.
That’s because at Scratch, patrons dine at the counters on which their food is prepared. Diners are asked what they feel like eating, and the chefs cook up a customized meal.
And as the name suggests, Lee said, everything in the kitchen is prepared from scratch.
Lee said he’s looking at two to three seatings per night with timed courses and a constantly changing menu that will suit every sort of diet.
The cuisine, he added, will revolve around locally sourced ingredients.
Whereas Scratch|Bar & Kitchen will be a dinner-only, special occasion-type of concept, he said, an adjacent, more casual restaurant is in the works that will seat more patrons and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Across the hotel’s valet driveway from the restaurant is a small bar space that Lee said will focus on craft cocktails and local wine.
Copus told Noozhawk that the hotel was drawn to Lee because of the restaurateur’s enthusiasm for creating a community-focused establishment.
Lee added that before opening, he plans to spend time in the Santa Barbara area getting to know neighbors so he can create a space that locals will want to visit.
“A place where you would want to eat three times a week,” he said.
The Lees’ new establishments, expected to open in late spring or early summer of 2017, will welcome guests of the hotel as well as the public.
Meanwhile, Copus said, permits are still required for renovations to the restaurant space.
Scratch|Bar & Kitchen, at 16101 Ventura Blvd. in Encino, has been included on Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s “101 Best Restaurants” list.
Among the concepts under consideration for Scratch|Bar & Kitchen’s new location at the Montecito Inn is an intimate space where diners can eat at the counter where chefs cook up customized meals for them. Click to view larger
Among the concepts under consideration for Scratch|Bar & Kitchen’s new location at the Montecito Inn is an intimate space where diners can eat at the counter where chefs cook up customized meals for them. (Wonho Frank Lee photo)
In addition to Scratch, the Lees are developing Oh Man! Ramen and The Woodley Proper in Los Angeles.
Another restaurant, The Gadarene Swine, closed in July as a result of a legal dispute, Lee said.
Lee is an award-winning chef, having been named “Best Young Chef in America” by San Pellegrino and earning a place on the “Zagat 30 under 30” list.
He recently was a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13, and holds the record for most-consecutive wins with the Food Network, beating out the competition on Chopped, Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen.
Margarita Kallas-Lee has earned notoriety of her own. The former model is on the “Zagat 30 under 30” list and was a semi-finalist for Eater’s Young Guns 2016. She served as a judge at Taste Talks in New York City and has participated in the Kellogg’s Cereal Bar Chef Throwdown.
The Montecito Inn, a 61-room boutique hotel anchoring the east end of Coast Village Road, was built by entertainer Charlie Chaplin and a group of investors in 1928.