Bluewater Grill Coming to Santa Barbara

Bluewater Grill press release:

Santa Barbara, California (Nov. 15, 2016)

Bluewater Grill will bring a blend of locally caught sustainable seafood, monthly chef’s tastings and neighborhood wine and happy hours to California’s Central Coast with its debut on the Santa Barbara waterfront in Summer 2017.

Bluewater co-founders Richard Staunton and Jimmy “U” Ulcickas today announced that Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara will open at the foot of Stearns Wharf in July 2017, combining locally caught seafood and shellfish and the latest releases from Santa Barbara County wineries and other local suppliers to offer a stylish, decidedly local dining experience. The beachfront restaurant is ideally located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s downtown Waterfront area – the most visited spot in the city – and adjacent to the Funk Zone, a trendy destination of wine tasting rooms, shops and other opportunities for locals and tourists.

The new restaurant will be owned by Staunton, Ulcickas and long-time friends and partners Adam and Andrew Firestone, and David Walker, plus other Santa Barbara locals. Bluewater has proudly poured Firestone wines and Firestone Walker beer in its restaurants for years along with other Central Coast varietals.

Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara takes over the famous site of the Castagnola Lobster House, one of several restaurants established by George Virginio Castagnola in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a Southern California fleet-fishing business. The recently rebuilt landmark building at 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd. features a signature lighthouse at the corner of Cabrillo Boulevard and Helena Street and expansive views of the beach, Santa Barbara Harbor and Channel Islands.

“The perfect waterfront Santa Barbara location has eluded us for more than a decade – until now,” said Staunton. “When we saw that this legendary venue was available, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce our neighborhood restaurant concept to the Central California Coast,” said Staunton. “We’re now transforming the iconic building into a stylish seafood destination befitting the culinary transformation of the area.”

The Bluewater team looks to hire a Santa Barbara-based chef who will undertake rigorous training to master the Bluewater menu and sustainable seafood preparation. In addition, Bluewater will hire local management, servers, bartenders and kitchen personnel. Potential applicants can go to and fill out an application!

“It’s a thrill to bring Bluewater’s commitment to the absolutely freshest sustainable seafood – ranging from small plates and simply prepared fish dishes to the most elaborate chef creations – to the Santa Barbara beachfront,” said Ulcickas. “Given Santa Barbara’s role as a world-class resort and culinary town, with an exceptional wine heritage, we expect Bluewater Grill to be an ideal fit with local foodies, wine and seafood lovers, and visitors. We’re excited to be able to add spectacularly prepared seafood and shellfish to the local mix of options.”

Ulcickas said the restaurant is being remodeled with an inside/outside second-story bar to take advantage of the spectacular sunset and ocean views. Offering a sophisticated local twist on other locations operated by Staunton & Ulcickas, Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara will blend a decidedly upscale coastal casual theme with subtle references to Bluewater founders’ ties to Santa Barbara.  Avid fishermen, Staunton and Ulcickas regularly fish the Channel Islands aboard Bluewater’s own Pilikia swordfish harpoon boat to humanely catch pristine-quality swordfish.

Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara will serve lunch, dinner and small plates daily on two floors of the newly constructed building, an oyster bar, dining counter overlooking an open kitchen and an upstairs dining patio and bar offering beach views, local Santa Barbara County wine flights and locally caught seafood purchased directly from local commercial fisherman.

The new restaurant will print new lunch and dinner menus regularly to be able showcase the freshest seafood and shellfish, and offers a separate kid’s menu certified by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program and a popular weekday small plates menu of $4, $6 and $8 drink and appetizer specials.

“While we serve up to 40 varieties of seafood and shellfish, if it isn’t the absolute freshest possible, we won’t put it on the menu,” added Ulcickas. “That has been our philosophy since Day 1, and we’ll continue that commitment to the freshest fish, ingredients and cooking techniques in Santa Barbara.”

Another expected highlight will be a year-long calendar of seasonal seafood specials and monthly Chef’s Tasting events which pair seafood and shellfish with hand-selected wines, sakes or specialty draught beers. Hosted the second Tuesday of every month, the events have become a popular monthly diversion for local seafood aficionados and Bluewater Grill’s large fan base.
A number of long-term developments continue to transform the Santa Barbara Waterfront into a local and regional destination including the Californian Hotel complex on State Street near Cabrillo Boulevard and the rebuilding of Cabrillo Bridge across Mission Creek. Meanwhile, the nearby MOXI (Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation) will be the area’s first full-scale museum designed for families when it opens in early 2017.

Local brokers Michael Martz and Greg Bartholomew of Hayes Commercial Group represented all parties in the lease of the landmark location, which qualifies as the largest restaurant lease in downtown Santa Barbara in square footage in more than ten years

Industry-leading Commitment to Sustainability

Since opening on Newport’s Cannery Village waterfront in 1996, Bluewater Grill has developed a reputation for not only serving the freshest seafood, but leading the industry in sustainable fishing and farming practices.

Bluewater Grill was one of the first California or Arizona seafood restaurants to apply a full-disclosure menu philosophy and publish a Fish Origins Chart showing the specific farmed or wild source of every item on the menu. The prolific restaurateur has shared his marine stewardship secrets at the International Boston Seafood Show and has been featured on the cover of SeaFood Business, the nation’s leading trade publication for seafood restaurants and other buyers.

To date, more than 90% of the seafood offerings at Bluewater restaurants are sustainably caught or farmed – among the highest of any seafood restaurant in California.

To be deemed sustainable, the seafood or shellfish must be certified by the Aquarium of the Pacific Seafood for the Future program; be designated a “Best or Good Alternative Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program; or adhere to strict Marine Stewardship Council best-practice standards for sustainable harvesting.

Thanks to the Pilikia, Bluewater is one of the few seafood restaurants that can provide sustainably-caught, pristine-quality swordfish directly to consumers in-season. Pilikia Captain Sean Burke targets only mature fish without the use of nets or long lines, harpooning the freshest most humanely harvested local swordfish.

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