Mulligan's Cafe co-owner Mario Medina at Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation hearing discussing possible privatization of the Municipal Golf Course including maintenance, the Pro Shop, and food concessions. (June 15, 2015)
Paul Wellman

A money-saving move by city Parks and Recreation officials may sound the death knell for a profitable eatery situated on the Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Club.

Mulligans Café & Bar, which has been run by the Medina family for more than two decades, will likely become a casualty of the city’s move toward privatizing the upkeep of the golf course under a single management company, starting next year. That company would also oversee the onsite pro shop and restaurant. The three-pronged approach is designed to make the golf course and the related businesses a self-sustaining package not reliant on general fund subsidies, says Parks and Recreation, specifically citing that the number of golfers has been on steady decline since the 1990s.

But with closer inspection, the big picture looks less grim financially. “Both Mulligans and the pro shop are making money,” according to a written statement mailed out last week by Lani Medina. “The [cost of the city’s] maintenance crew is the sole reason for the financial difficulties.”

“Not once ever have [my profits] been lower than the year before,” added her husband, Mario Medina. “We’ve always been able to afford to pay the city.” The 6,000-square-foot dining and drinking establishment, which also includes a banquet room and snack bar, annually pays the city 10 percent of its gross revenue.

In a joint meeting with the Golf Advisory Committee, the issue will appear before City Council on Monday. Parks and Recreation is recommending that councilmembers adopt the comprehensive solution, though other options will also be on the table, including an approach that maintains business as usual with the pro shop and restaurant while focusing entirely on greenskeeping.

“I’m going to recommend that the city pick the option that directly addresses the maintenance problem,” Medina said.

Mulligans contract expires in June 2016.


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