A New Watering Hole Opens on montecito Street
Train tracks are one of those clichéd symbols; and, as is usually the case, this cliché has become a cliché because something about it rings true: tracks divide a town, and, oftentimes, the scene you’ll find on either side. And so it is in Santa Barbara. “Downtown” — State Street and its long lines, pricey drinks, and high tourist quotient — ends abruptly at the train station, and crossing those tracks on Montecito Street lands you in an entirely different Santa Barbara. A Santa Barbara populated almost exclusively by locals, a Santa Barbara where $5 will get you a beer and change, a Santa Barbara bereft of bouncers, a Santa Barbara where parking … well, okay, parking still can be quite a pain in the ass. The much beloved local hangout The Brewhouse has long had a corner on the neighborhood’s beer-drinking, excellent-yet-cheapish-food-grubbing, live-music-grooving market, but, with the recent opening of a new gathering place, locals suddenly have another equally compelling reason to cross the tracks. Located on the corner of Montecito and Bath streets, The Neighborhood, a massive, 5,000-square-foot bar (and soon-to-be restaurant), had its official opening “bar warming” party on Friday night, and judging by the attendance, word has already gotten out. The owners, David and Leah Burkholder, also own the Blue Collar Bistro, a cool, narrow space located between The Neighborhood and The Brewhouse; however, with the opening of The Neighborhood, they’ve opted to shut down the BCB for a while — the grand plan is to turn what was once the BCB into The Neighborhood’s kitchen. When I arrived at The Neighborhood, I quickly located Leah and Brian and went over to congratulate them, but Brian had more important things to do — like shower. He built nearly every piece of furniture by hand, and said that, as of Friday morning, almost all of it had yet to be moved inside. When he returned, all freshened up and still fueled by a potent adrenaline cocktail, he gave me a tour of the outside area, which he plans to turn into a dining patio, and showed me what walls will have to come down in order to accommodate the kitchen-to-be. My husband, who’d been busy making ga-ga eyes at the enormous flat-screen TV located above the beautiful bar, eventually tore himself away and joined us, but the two six-foot-plus boys immediately settled into one of the big-and-tall-friendly booths and sank into a deep conversation, bonding over tools, TVs, legroom, and I don’t know what else (Leah, an Uggs employee by day, and I talked shoes). Before long, the place was packed, and the peeps in the ’Hood were loving their new home. As ever, look for more Peeps at independent.com. Got cool news, hot tips, juicy gossip? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.