Though there were rumblings of a virus emerging out of China, my 2020 started off like most years, exploring some new restaurants in Solvang and previewing the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, particularly the premiere of the Santa Barbara-focused uni film Delicacy.
As COVID-19 became more serious, we realized that certain events weren’t going to happen, including the inaugural Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, which I previewed in this article on home winemakers.
Then came a wave of COVID-only reporting by our entire staff. Here was my initial report on restaurant and bar reactions, which grew to more detailed stories about what restaurants were doing to survive and then an expansive cover story assessing the situation more deeply. In between, I detailed efforts by restaurants to work with nonprofit agencies to keep our neighbors fed during the pandemic. And during the Black Lives Matter protest, I shined a light on some of the Black-owned restaurants in the county.
I wrote a few stories explaining my own experiences with COVID, including this one where I scored toilet paper on my first trip to the store and this other one where I lamented the lack of smiles. We also managed to have some fun, kayaking the Gaviota Coast and reporting on a new food series at the Ojai Valley Inn.
Much of my year was spent reporting on the controversial proposal to start a business improvement district that would cover all of Santa Barbara County wine country, raising money to market the region, which most agree is badly needed. But vintners rose up against the idea, which was taken off the table in October.
We also said goodbye, briefly, to C’est Cheese in this piece, only to say welcome back a couple months later. Same for Paradise Café, which closed after 37 years, then reopened as La Paloma in November.
Of course, I’m leaving out dozens of profiles about restaurants, wineries, and food purveyors, so check out this page to see more. In all, I wrote about 140 bylined stories, so there’s plenty more to read!
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