The Santa Barbara Public Market evolves under new ownership as Shalhoob’s opens for business

In December 2021, Marge Cafarelli, the owner and founder of the Santa Barbara Public Market sold the building and the business to a local team led by Travis Twining. As a former catering business and deli owner, he understands the challenges of starting a business in the food and beverage industry.

“New restaurants often burn through their start-up capital before they’ve even had a chance to market themselves and open the doors to customers,” Twining said. “What’s special about a food hall like Public Market is that it allows chefs and entrepreneurs to try a concept in a space that is ready to go with minimal start-up cost, and customers are already there.”

In fact, Shalhoob’s @ The Market, which had its grand opening on March 17, was up and running within about a week of signing a lease, compared to the considerable expense and time—often a year or more—to obtain permits and build-out a traditional restaurant space.

“Thank goodness the Public Market wasn’t bought by an out-of-town group,” said Francois DeJohn, broker and founding partner with Hayes Commercial Group, who represented Twining’s team in the purchase. “Being local and having a background in the industry, Travis really appreciates what Marge created and has rolled up his sleeves to actively manage the project, which is crucial to the future success of the Market.”

With Twining at the helm, the focus so far has been on keeping it local. That includes both attracting successful existing operators and allowing local up-and-comers to try their concepts on a “pop-up” basis. The first major addition to the Market is Shalhoob’s, which already has a popular restaurant in the Funk Zone, and leased the former Garden space that overlooks Victoria Street. “Shalhoob’s is a great fit for the space,” DeJohn said.

There are a few spaces still available in Public Market, one of which is currently hosting a “pop-up” restaurant called Matty’s Hot Chicken three days a week. “Hopefully Matty’s will keep building customers and become a long-term tenant,” Twining said.

Speaking of local favorites, Corazon Cocina has become first restaurant in the Market to serve breakfast, where Chef Ramon Velazquez has created a special menu accompanied by Handlebar Coffee for visitors in the morning hours.

Twining says the Market will continue to offer as much outdoor dining space as possible in accordance with the City, so that customers have ample options for places to sit and enjoy their food and drinks.

In addition to the food hall building, Twining’s team also bought the vacant 3,900 square-foot building next door at 28 W Victoria St. They have begun renovations to transform the building into an event center, which the public can rent for private events. “The space should be able to accommodate about 200 guests,” Twining said. “And best of all, the food for your event can be catered by the great restaurants next door at the Market.”

Leasing inquiries at Public Market should be directed to Francois DeJohn.