Paul Wellman

Last Call for Mel’s Lounge

Rent Raised on State Street Institution

Mel’s Lounge, a State Street institution since 1963, is closing on August 24. According to Mike Knapp, who has owned Mel’s for the past five years, his rent was doubled to about $10,000. Mel’s, a bar and pool hall that opens at 8:30 a.m., is something of an anachronism in the fashionable Paseo Nuevo mall, which was built around it in the early 1990s.

The afternoon crowd at Mel's
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

The afternoon crowd at Mel’s

It is not owned by Paseo Nuevo but, according to County Assessor’s records, by the Santa Barbara-based Hughes Land Holding Trust, owner of the building that also houses Piranha’s bar and restaurant, Pizza by the Slice, and Sunglass Hut, whose rents were also raised. They, however, are staying.

Mel's a.m. employee and p.m. customer John Powers
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Mel’s a.m. employee and p.m. customer John Powers

Mel’s occupies a 900-square-foot space, Knapp said, adding, “I can’t raise my prices anymore, and I can’t really expand.” The place is well-patronized from the time it opens at 8:30 a.m. until last call. A second-generation Santa Barbara native, Knapp said he intends to relocate or open a new bar, but does not have a location. Knapp said he has been paying rent at the old rate month-to-month since January 1, partly because a new tenant scheduled to move in then did not, but must vacate by September 1.

Knapp said he did not know if a new tenant has been found for Mel’s spot. Hughes Land Trust could not immediately be reached for comment.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Dos Pueblos High School Stirs Political Pot

Senior-class picture features MAGA and LIBERALS!

Community Forum Provides Updates on Immigration Enforcement

About 9 percent of people in Santa Barbara County are undocumented.

Santa Barbara Launches Interactive Street Sweep Map

Users can identify dates, times, and routes for street sweeping by address and colored areas.

Santa Barbara Zoo Bids Farewell to Beloved Elephant

Sujatha passes away at 47 years old.

Disaster Relief Rundown for Santa Barbara 

A tally of nonprofit giving since the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow.