With five-ounce glasses before them, an intimate gathering of friends and strangers listened to a Telegraph Brewing Company representative’s lively but technical explanations of how their beers were brewed. Sitting at tables propped up by giant wine barrels and surrounded by shelves of regionally made goods, the tasters focused on finding the subtle flavors they’d just discovered were imbued into the beer. With the late-afternoon sunlight streaming into the room, Telegraph’s Stock Porter took on an almost purplish hue.
The group of about two dozen beer and small-business enthusiasts — which included a bank CEO, a contingent from the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, and a winery owner — chatted, sipped, and munched on nibbles from Georgia’s Smokehouse within the wood-paneled interior, which is reminiscent of an old, turn-of-the-century workshop. Within minutes, a visitor to Santa Barbara Gift Baskets’ (SBGB) new showroom (230 Magnolia Ave., Goleta;  689-7561; santabarbaragiftbaskets.com) forgets that he or she is inside a former mechanic’s garage in the heart of Old Town Goleta.
“It’s important to hang on to the character and charm of the original neighborhoods,” said SBGB’s owner Anne Pazier, who, along with her husband, Todd Pazier, has been putting together gift baskets for Santa Barbara for about a decade. The Paziers’ new place, which will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting on
Thursday, July 9, at 4 p.m., is an upgrade from the small Goleta warehouse where they ran their previously online-only business, and it’s just the latest creative, foodie-focused development that Old Town is enjoying amid a steady revitalization.
While the old-fashioned design of the showroom and a black-and-white photo hanging on the back wall of “Grandpa Vogel” — the original mechanic shop owner — may be the most tangible nods to Goleta’s past, the focus on Telegraph’s beer on the Friday afternoon of June 26 represented the Paziers’ dedication to promoting locally made, history-inspired products. Among the samples of prearranged gift baskets, the showroom features a variety of artisanal foodstuffs for sale as well as a small tasting room for a rotating cast of wines and beers. From nuts to confections, the foods can be bought individually or as part of the handcrafted baskets; producers range from a cardiologist to a former high school biology teacher to a mom employing a family recipe.
“The baskets have always been celebrating all these local, small entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara that are making these incredible jams and crackers and popcorn and all these different things,” said Pazier. “I get the benefit of packaging it beautifully for people and sending … all over the country … this little taste of Santa Barbara.”
For instance, Santa Barbara Popcorn, run by the biology teacher Christopher Pollastrini, comes in several flavors, including Balsamic Vinegar & Italian Herb and Maple & Brown Sugar. Like many of the other foods featured in the gift baskets, Pollastrini’s popcorn boasts the popular qualities of organic, gluten-free, and GMO-free.
The Paziers’ baskets come in standard arrangements or can be custom-made. The new storefront allows them to engage with customers on a more personal level, and the Paziers are looking forward to hosting more tasting events featuring their beer and wine partners. “There’s only so much you can do on the Internet to grab people’s attention,” Pazier said of their old business model. “But there’s nothing better than when they’re sitting there having a nice glass of wine.”