Elephant Bar Closing

Goleta Restaurant Calling It Quits Despite Chain’s Success Elsewhere

Thursday, July 25, 2013
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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.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Lack of economic growth in Goleta. Really? A more likely explanation is corporate mismanagement running it into the ground. In recent times, service has been spotty. When I have been there, there always seems to be a crowd.

goletaobserver (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2013 at 5:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And Goleta has a lil boom happening too.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2013 at 5:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No, ask any commercial real estate agent. It's very hard for them to rent out commercial space (aka offices) in Goleta right now. Local business growth outside of hospitality is anemic.

But I'm not saying the bad local economy is the reason the Elephant Bar in Goleta isn't renewing its lease. . . the mediocre food and outdated interior is obviously the big turnoff to locals and tourists alike.

Lars (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2013 at 9:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The decor is an homage to the 80s, and the last time they received a fresh food delivery.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2013 at 9:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting. Lack of growth? Looking at the corner of Hollister and Los Carneros tells a different story.

Botany (anonymous profile)
July 26, 2013 at 4:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There's also a huge mixed use project scheduled to break ground soon across from Costco.

Botany (anonymous profile)
July 26, 2013 at 4:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No great loss.Used to be a fun place to eat, but recently the food and service was always "iffy" the few times I went.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
July 26, 2013 at 9:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It saddens me that the Elephant Bar in Goleta is closing. My late husband, Chris Nancarrow, employed many wonderful people in Santa Barbara. The past success of the Elephant Bar was due to the people who worked with my husband and all of the loyal guests that enjoyed the food, service and ambience. I thank each of you.
Chris put his heart and soul into providing a memorable dining experience for all those who walked through the door. He felt honored to be a part of the airport community and had a good relationship with the S.B. Airport.
He enjoyed supporting UCSB and other S.B. organizations.
It is with great sadness that the corporation will close the doors. I thank you for your patronage and support.

brendananc (anonymous profile)
July 27, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I still have one of their old "elephant orgy" coffee mugs!

Before the Calle Real Marketplace was put in, the Elephant Bar was a popular place to hang out for a lot of Hollister corridor techies and their banquet room hosted a lot of company get-togethers. The local Science & Engineering Council was still holding their guest speaker luncheons there.

The Marketplace is closer to most tech companies these days (two of Goleta's largest employers are close to CRM) and I suspect that may have affected the EB's lunch/happy-hour business.

I for one will not forget those jungle "hot pants" the waitresses used to wear :)

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
July 27, 2013 at 4:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Chris put his heart and soul into providing a memorable dining experience for all those who walked through the door."
-- brendananc
At the risk of being an old grump, I'll declare this to be utter BS. Nobody had a "memorable" experience there. You went there to get buzzed after work or to attempt a pickup for the night. The food was just ok but certainly not "memorable". If Chris put his heart and soul into the Elephant, he was on a fool's errand. It was, after all, just a friggin' restaurant/bar no different than scores of others in town.

I shed not a tear.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
July 29, 2013 at 3:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

E-Bar----how 80's . . .

Draxor (anonymous profile)
July 30, 2013 at 8:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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