Closing Time

by Ethan Stewart

The rumors are true. One of Santa Barbara’s most beloved eating and drinking establishments is calling it quits at the end of next month. July 29 will mark the last call for alcohol and egg rolls at Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens on East Canon Perdido Street. A staple in the local community since it opened in 1947, Jimmy’s has been a favorite of downtown workers, the theater community, and anyone just looking for a good drink and a welcoming place with arguably the best jazz soundtrack this side of the Mississippi. According to current owner and chef Tommy Chung — whose family has been in Santa Barbara since the late 19th century and are the original founders of Jimmy’s — he is looking to sell the building in light of a recent decision to retire after having run the bar/restaurant since the 1970s. Aside from good food and good company, Jimmy’s is also home to Willy Gilbert — the patriarch of S.B.’s bartenders — who has been pouring drinks there for the past 22 years. Though the building’s future remains uncertain, regulars seemed sadly resigned to the inevitable during Tuesday’s happy hour. As Willy’s first customer, Robert Valenzuela, who has been buying drinks at Jimmy’s for more than 30 years, observed from his usual spot at the bar, “Everything comes to an end, I guess.”

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