I would like to thank you for the excellent article “Goodbye, East Beach Grill.” As fair as you were in the details, I am sure that anyone reading the article would have to agree that what the Parks and Recreation Department is trying to do will most likely not be a good decision.
I was raised in Santa Barbara, and after college and military service I tried to find a career here, but unfortunately it took me away for 35 years. After retiring, my wife and I relocated back home to S.B. several years ago. I grew up along East Beach and the East Beach Grill (EBG). I have always been truly amazed at how many businesses tried to make it along Cabrillo Boulevard, from the Bird Refuge to Castillo Street, just to fail. One thing, and only one thing remained constant, and that was the EBG.
What the Parks and Recreation Department is trying to do is most likely going to have the same fate. Granted the Pavilion building needs a renovation. But to remove the only successful tenant from the building is crazy. Just update the Pavilion, and the EBG, but don’t try to “recreate the wheel.” Why would anyone try to put another dinner house on that boulevard after all its history? This is only wishful thinking.
I am sorry the Parks and Recreation Department is losing money since the recession. A lot of other businesses still are as well. But why remove Francisco Aguilera from his successful business? One that has returned a lot of money to the city in the last 33 years. He should be given an award and a thank you for his long term success.
Why wouldn’t the City of Santa Barbara do the responsible thing — which other organizations would do when faced with a loss of revenue — and try to reduce some of their overall operating costs? Why not remove the Pavilion and EBG from the Parks and Recreation Department, and let them run just Parks and Recreation Facilities in the Santa Barbara area. Then place the Pavilion and EBG under the Waterfront Department with all the other restaurants, and let them over see the EBG. Common sense would dictate that this move would make a lot more sense, by consolidating a lot of duplicated costs.
Trying to spend $15 million in this economy is a real gamble with taxpayers’ money. So, renovate the Pavilion, but just give the EBG a good “facelift” and let it be run by Mr. Aguilera in the successful manner that he is known for and we all appreciate. I am sure that the city could then cut that very large expense back to a reasonable amount and put the savings to much better uses.
This dream for the City of Santa Barbara could very easily turn into a nightmare, a very expensive nightmare.