During the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2007, a fortunate few had the chance to get down at the Al Gore after party in the Anacota Building, so named as it’s at the corner of Anacapa and Cota streets. While the space was jury-rigged with smoke, curtains, and a tequila ice luge to make it party-rific, one area also contained artists’ conceptions and mock-ups of what looked to be a state-of-the-art nightclub and dining venue. It’s 14 months later, and now Bollinger’s at least has a Web site (bollinger.com) promising “a world-class nightclub and a beautiful restaurant, both under one roof.” Owner/visionary Gary Bollinger agreed to an email interview, about all he has time for as he works to bring his dream project to fruition.

Is this the same project that was being “advertised” at a Santa Barbara International Film Festival party last year in that space? We did allow the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to host a party at our site last year. To explain the delays we have experienced would cause yet another delay, so I’ll leave it at that.

Your Web site claims “opening 2008.” Can you be any more specific? We’re literally just a few months of construction from opening, but I’ve experienced so many delays for so many ridiculous reasons that I refuse to predict an opening date.

Do you have a chef lined up? Todd Allison is a bright young star on the Southern California restaurant scene with a notable culinary pedigree. Before accepting his position at Bollinger’s, Todd spent five years as executive sous-chef under James Boyce at Studio, the signature restaurant at Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach. Todd oversaw daily operations, managed labor and food costs, trained and supervised all kitchen employees, developed seasonally changing menus, and regularly assumed command of the kitchen for the busy and globe-trotting Chef Boyce. (Boyce trained for six years under Daniel Boulud at New York’s Le Cirque.)

Previously, Todd spent two years as sous-chef at Aqua at St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, under executive chef Michael Mina, where he served as kitchen expediter and trained and scheduled all kitchen employees. Before that, he worked as tournant chef for two years at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, again under Boyce. Todd is a graduate of Scottsdale’s Culinary Le Cordon Bleu.

Tell me more about what you mean by “new American cuisine.” New American cuisine is based on the freshest seasonal ingredients and incorporates international touches from the chef’s experience and travels. Sample menu items include seasoned fries with spicy ketchup, garlic aioli, and honey mustard; steamed Caledonia shrimp pot-stickers with spicy kim chi and sweet ginger soy; tandoori-marinated lamb skewers with cipollini onion, Persian cucumber, and a madras curry sauce; and Dungeness crab beignets with mango lime aioli. Appetizers might include pan-seared Maine diver scallops with morel mushroom ravioli, fava beans, and arugula pesto; confit of Jidori Farms chicken risotto with wild ramp and Spanish chorizo; and seared ahi tuna Ni§oise salad with garlic-roasted tomatoes, haricots verts, and mosto lemon olive oil. Sample entrees might include oven-roasted Alaskan halibut with braised baby vegetables and aged sherry butter; the Bongo burger with surprise avocado, crispy Maui onions, pepper jack, and house-made BBQ sauce; Brandt Natural Farms tenderloin of beef with wild mushroom pot pie and pinot noir sauce; and grilled Thai-marinated flank steak with shaved vegetable and herb salad and crispy fingerling potatoes.

My impression from the Web site is that the restaurant, bar, and nightclub are all separate. Is that correct? The club is completely soundproofed and separate from the restaurant and main bar, similar to the Yoshi’s design in the Bay Area (yoshis.com). We will offer a club food menu with full beverage service. The club has its own entrance, restrooms, bar, and access to the kitchen.

If I can quote from our business plan: “Special attention to the lighting and acoustics of the Riviera Room will provide a superb space for live music, with theatrical stage lighting and a custom-designed sound system anchored by Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers, generally considered to be among the finest in the world for club and theater sound. Concentric rows of tables and chairs on multiple seating levels will evoke memories of the grand nightclubs of the 1930s and 1940s. The club will comfortably seat up to 200 guests.”

Will there be a focus to the “extensive wine program” the Web site promises? Bollinger’s will feature a well-balanced wine program representing the major wine-producing regions of the world, with a focus on Santa Barbara County, offered in a range of prices from wines by the glass to highly sought-after bottles from private collections sold on consignment.


See bollinger.com for more info.


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