After serving Goleta for over 30 years, the Elephant Bar restaurant near Santa Barbara Airport will shut its doors for good in mid-August, with restaurant officials citing the surrounding area’s lack of economic growth as the cause of the closing.
While the business’s lease will be up for renewal on September 30, the restaurant has plans to end its lease with the Santa Barbara Airport and officially close on August 18. Leslie Liberatore, a spokesperson for the national chain, said the company decided to shutter the Goleta location after it “reexamined” the economic condition of that restaurant and the surrounding area. “That part of Goleta, since the recession, just hasn’t showed a lot of growth,” Liberatore said. “That trade area is not thriving.”
Liberatore said Elephant Bar is not in any sort of financial trouble and said the “growing company” even has plans to expand to Huntington Beach, after just opening a new location in Northridge. The chain also plans to keep open all of its other 46 locations, which span across ten different states.
Santa Barbara Airport did not play any role in the upcoming closure, according to the airport’s assistant director, Hazel Johns. Johns said that while rumors have circulated suggesting there was a proposed rent increase for the property, the restaurant and Santa Barbara Airport “hadn’t even reached any discussion” regarding extension of the lease.
Calling the rumors “unfortunate” and “inaccurate,” Johns said Elephant Bar CEO Robert Holden sent a letter explaining the company’s decision to drop its Goleta location. In the letter, Holden states that Elephant Bar’s decision was “difficult” but also “necessary,” as the business experienced “financial loss” in recent years.