In a somewhat shocking case of burying the lead, The Santa Barbara Independent and other media outlets received the news Friday afternoon that Scratch Restaurants “will begin swiftly expanding in 2020 by opening additional outposts of Sushi|Bar,” one of which is housed in the Montecito Inn.
The buried lead is that Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee — the husband-and-wife chef duo who own Scratch Restaurants — have pulled the plug on The Monarch (which recently won this paper’s Foodie Award) and the lavish dinner-as-spectacle Silver Bough. Both restaurants are not just closed; their spaces have in fact been sold.
In the meantime, Sushi|Bar in Montecito — as they put it, “an omakase speakeasy that serves up a whimsy of its namesake fare in 17 courses” — will continue to be led by head sushi chef Lennon Lee, with seatings Wednesday through Sunday.
In a statement sent via email on Friday, Phillip Frankland Lee wrote, “Seven years ago, Margarita and I started Scratch Restaurants when we were both in our early 20s. We have attempted many concepts over those years and have had an absolute wonderful time working with our teams to make each vision come to life. While many people have enjoyed our various dining offerings, Sushi|Bar has consistently been among everyone’s favorite experience.
“Therefore, while we loved working with local farmers and vintners to create a menu at The Monarch showcasing all that the Central Coast has to offer, and taking a chance on a career dream to open The Silver Bough, we have been given an opportunity to grow the company and our team is excited to move forward. We absolutely love Montecito and Santa Barbara, and we are incredibly grateful to all those who have embraced us as we have tried to offer the community some great culinary options.
“Sushi|Bar will continue to operate as normal at the historic Montecito Inn, and we look forward to being a part of the community as long as you’ll have us.” Sushi|Bar is the third concept in the small space across the Inn’s driveway after short runs by Chaplin’s Martini Bar and Frankland’s Crab & Co.
Over the next year, Scratch Restaurants plans to open additional locations throughout California, focusing on Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco.
The Montecito Inn is yet to confirm who will be taking over the spaces.
The news caps a rough couple of weeks for food lovers in Santa Barbara. Earlier this week, The Bear and Star in Los Olivos announced that it will close at year’s end, and head chef John Cox has already left town. Meanwhile, Chef Pink (Crystal DeLongpré) split from Root 246 in Solvang after making it culinarily relevant again.