by Ethan Stewart

The rumors are true. One of Santa Barbara’s most beloved eating
and drinking establishments is calling it quits at the end of next
month. July 29 will mark the last call for alcohol and egg rolls at
Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens on East Canon Perdido Street. A staple in
the local community since it opened in 1947, Jimmy’s has been a
favorite of downtown workers, the theater community, and anyone
just looking for a good drink and a welcoming place with arguably
the best jazz soundtrack this side of the Mississippi. According to
current owner and chef Tommy Chung — whose family has been in Santa
Barbara since the late 19th century and are the original founders
of Jimmy’s — he is looking to sell the building in light of a
recent decision to retire after having run the bar/restaurant since
the 1970s. Aside from good food and good company, Jimmy’s is also
home to Willy Gilbert — the patriarch of S.B.’s bartenders — who
has been pouring drinks there for the past 22 years. Though the
building’s future remains uncertain, regulars seemed sadly resigned
to the inevitable during Tuesday’s happy hour. As Willy’s first
customer, Robert Valenzuela, who has been buying drinks at Jimmy’s
for more than 30 years, observed from his usual spot at the bar,
“Everything comes to an end, I guess.”


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