A first-time visitor to Globe may struggle to determine whether this newest entry to East Cota Street’s restaurant strip is indeed a place to eat or just drink cocktails. The tables are all of different heights, shapes, and orientations; leather-y love seats mingle with leopard-print bar chairs; and the glitz-kitsch décor of fancy chandeliers, velvety lampshades, ornate mirrors, and bedazzled battens gives off more nightclub buzz than sit-down vibe. And that’s exactly the point.
“It’s a Disneyland for adults,” said co-owner and creator Laura Knight, who first developed the concept years ago. “It’s in between a restaurant and a bar — it’s a small-plates lounge.”
Globe’s menu, as its name implies, reflects cuisines from all around the world: from crab Rangoon and veggie pot stickers to green-chile-chicken enchilada and tortilla-lime soup to rosemary-crusted lamb chops and watermelon-mint-feta salad. The kitchen is open late, and, most inventively, the dishes all cost $10 or less, quite a rare bargain for stylish dining in the skyrocketing rentsville of Santa Barbara. “We tried to create a menu that everyone could afford,” said Knight, who’s owned and operated the ever-popular State Street trattoria Pascucci since 1993. “We priced it so affordable that we don’t need a happy hour,” added managing partner Gerry Cruz, who spent most of his career “rescuing restaurants” in Arizona.
But the price doesn’t quite predict size, either. “Our small plates aren’t small,” said Cruz, who’s a fan of the hefty wings-of-fire, with crispy, spicy skins that trap the pillow-soft chicken meat inside. The shrimp-stuffed chile relleno alone could serve as a solid dinner, but the point is to share many dishes with friends and stick around awhile while sipping the night away. “You can come get a little, or you can get a lot,” said Cruz. Pair that $30- to $40-per-person tab with a steady volume of already returning customers, and the financial formula starts to pencil out.
The location at 18 East Cota Street, which is between American Ale and Blue Agave a half-block off State Street, is where the French restaurant Mousse Odile reigned for more than 20 years. In 2008, Gene “Lucky Jeans” Montesano opened Café Luck in the high-ceilinged space, which also features a long bar, upstairs dining room, and a back patio. Then came The Pan, a short-lived affair, followed by a year in escrow for a project that never happened.
At that point, the non-compete clause in Knight’s lease agreement for Pascucci had expired, so she shared her plan with Cruz — “It was a have-to thing,” he thought — and they jumped into the location. “It’s close enough to State Street but away from the craziness of the 400 and 500 blocks,” said Knight. She hired friends/designers Cathy Buckingham and Sandy Cowan to outfit the interior, so in came chandeliers from New Orleans, light fixtures from San Francisco, and antique furniture from Pasadena.
People immediately enjoyed the different dining décor upon its August 1 opening. “Everyone feels like they have their own space,” said Knight, noting that there was no fretting about how to eat from low-slung tables and chaise longues. “We were really expecting to defend it a bit more,” laughed Cruz, who said one couple even plopped down to eat on the floor. “But we know you eat in your living room!”
Taking a cue from Pascucci’s continued success — Knight is even opening a second and bigger one in Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace this fall — Globe will play host to regular fundraisers benefiting various community organizations. The first one will be for Pacific Pride Foundation at 5 p.m. on September 23, which is also Cruz’s birthday. “We’ll jump from charity to charity to see if we can build a rhythm around that,” said Cruz.
Globe’s official ribbon cutting with Mayor Helene Schneider will be on September 17, and all are invited, but business is already strong. “Nobody really knows we’re open, and I’m getting a lot of returns already,” said Cruz of their small-plates lounge. “What I like is that people are staying here for one and a half, even two hours.”
Globe, located at 18 East Cota Street, is open 5 p.m. ’til late Tuesday-Sunday. Call (805) 883-6979 or see globesb.com.