The space at 413 State Street has been home to so many establishments during the past few years — Lettuce B. Frank, Billies, Momma Donna —it’s easy to wonder if the place is jinxed. But the latest occupant to give it a go-round — Jeff Snyder, owner of Pace food + drink with his wife, Kim Snyder — isn’t buying any notions of a curse. “Too many people get into the restaurant business that shouldn’t,” he said. “We’ve been in this business so long we knew what we were getting into.”
The Snyders come to Santa Barbara most recently from north San Diego, where Jeff had been working at L’Auberge del Mar. “We were in the process of opening a place in Carlsbad, where we’re from, but that didn’t work out,” said Kim. “Basically, we just brought that idea up here and opened the kind of place we’d want to go to.” Explained Jeff, “On one night we can have an elderly couple having the fish special, and some skater guys having burgers at the bar, and a family of four having four different things at another table. … We’re definitely trying to build a restaurant for the locals.”
While the range of menu items can go from diver scallops to grilled cheese, everything will be sourced locally when possible and made from scratch — their burger, for instance, features in-house ground meat and house-baked buns. Add in a fine, small selection of regional wines, beer taps featuring some of California’s best brews (Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, and harder-to-find things like beers from Surf Brewery in Ventura and Cismontane from the O.C.), live music on weekends, and walls adorned with art for sale, and you’ve got a comfortable, affordable, tasty spot lower State certainly needed.
“Our philosophy is the daily celebration of life, and that’s what we’re all about,” said Jeff. “People stay a little longer than at most restaurants, and that’s okay.” Even the layout of the joint expresses their philosophy, with den-like couch seating inside the front door. “People say you’re wasting valuable space not having tables there,” he explained, “but it’s part of what we wanted to do — give people a place to wait comfortably — and it’s not going to change. We’ve even had people eat there.”
The Snyders moved to town in December, opened in February, and with the help of their family — sons Ryan and Cole, nephew Ben, and niece Katie — the restaurant hit the ground running. “Yelp’s been phenomenal for us,” Kim said. “We never knew much about social media at all, but the kids said, ‘You need a Facebook page.’ It’s crazy how many people come to us because they Yelped us, probably 25 percent.”
As for that curse, Jeff explained that guitarist Chris Judge came to play one night, and informed him that it used to be a jazz club in the 1970s. “Everybody who comes in here to play loves the acoustics and the vibe,” said Jeff. “Maybe the flipside of the curse is there was something that people didn’t see that was hidden.”
Take a break from the rat race at Pace food + drink (413 State St.,  845-8388, pacefoodanddrink.com) Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., and Friday- Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.