Shannon Kelley

Peeping Reds’ Grand Reopening

Funk Zone Venue Reinvents Itself as a Wine and Tapas Bar

To quote Peter Brady: When it’s time to change, then it’s time to change. (So wise, that Peter.) And yet, just because change is widely extolled as life’s one and only constant doesn’t make it easy to contend with. Most of the time, silly mortals that we are, we blow our energy in a futile fight against it-except for when we don’t. And those times, when we take the bull by the horns, grab the steering wheel, and throw caution to the wind, those are the moments that really define our lives. Yes, cut me some bangs! These boots? They’re made for walkin’! Or, in the case of Dana Walters’s recent reinvention of Reds coffee house into Reds Bin 211, tapas and wine bar: To hell with the alarm clock-it’s high time I dealt in booze! And judging by the crowd that descended upon the Funk Zone mainstay last Saturday night, everyone in town agreed.

And yet. After finding parking a block or so away, my date and I walked toward Reds with what can only be described as a bit of trepidation. Reds has a loyal following-and in S.B., a town pretty replete with coffee shops, it has always distinguished itself for being just a little more cozy, more chill, more art- and artist-friendly. The work on the walls, the crawfish boils, the pick-up fire-spinning sessions in the parking lot : it was one of a kind. Yet word on the street was that the space was going swank. Perplexed, we wondered: What about that fabulous funk? Would it still be Reds?

Upon walking inside, all worries evaporated as we were promptly absorbed into the fold. The (freshly painted, re-furnished, art-studded) front room was packed with peeps enjoying flamenco guitar from Chris Fossek and Ishmael Amin and the amazing moves of Marisol Cabrera. Jill Johnson and Wallace Piatt furiously worked the perpetually swamped bar, while Dana-well, Dana was here, there, and everywhere (might there be more than one of her?), delivering fresh trays of apps to the various nooks, pouring drinks behind the bar, busing tables : I gave her a congratulations hug, and she said she was planning on heading home for a quickie shower as soon as she could get away. Were I a shrewder woman, I would have bet money on this plan’s never coming to pass. Instead, I continued my tour, checking the scene on the deck, which had a party of its own going on.

While a gambler I am not, a dancer I am, so when DJ Fab took to the tables, I had no choice but to take to the floor. The man has some serious devotees-and there’s no question why: He got us on our feet with an awesome dose of high-energy world music, and then kept the party going with the kind of techno dance beats that make leaving all but impossible. The crowd swelled and the dance floor grew more and more packed as the night went on. Though Dana never made her escape, when all was said and done, the first night of the rest of Reds’ life was an unabashed success. Like the best transformations, this one is the perfect blend of new life and old soul. Sha-na-na-na-na!

Reds Tapas & Wine Bar

211 Helena St., Santa Barbara, CA
805-966-5906. More Info


Reds Bin 211, new hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-midnight; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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