Jennifer Shively is still in awe when she walks into the clean, airy, and bright Dean: a coffee shop. “I just never thought I would have my own place,” gushes Shively, who’s been keeping Santa Barbarans delightfully sated for the past 20 years with her catering company, Lunchbox. When a friend let her know about the building for lease near the Santa Barbara Airport, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to open her dream coffee shop and café.
“I just said, ‘I’m gonna make this happen!’” explained Shively. With the help of a contractor and architect, she converted the space into a modern and peaceful shop over the course of 10 months. They opened in August, filling the walls with gourmet coffee as well as delectable breakfast, lunch, and retail options. They also boast a spacious patio perfect for socially distanced lounging.
Anyone who’s tried Lunchbox’s fresh and flavorful fare knows they’re in good hands if Shively’s behind the bar — the toast bar, that is. Their inventive creations include, as expected, a lovely avocado toast, but the real standout is their Date with a Goat Toast, where creamy and mild Laura Chenel goat cheese, toasted walnuts, dates, arugula, and a drizzle of honey dance across D’Angelo bread with a kick of Aleppo pepper.
The salami and Gruyère on toasted French Seigle rye topped with a splash of grain Dijon mayo makes for an extremely satisfying bite. The smash bean toast with white beans, lemon, olive oil, wild baby arugula, salt, and za’atar on toasted sourdough is certain to perk up any palate.
If time’s tight, the grab-and-go fridge features pre-packaged salads, sandwiches, snacks, and beverages. A quick favorite is the chicken salad filled with the flavors and textures of Fuji apples, almonds, and dried cranberries. “The sky’s the limit with the grab and go!” said Shively, who further stocks her retail shelves with sauces, spices, pastas, beans, and the crowd favorite, Girl Scout cookies.
Victrola Roasters in Seattle supplies the coffee beans. The rich, deep, robust flavor peeks through the foam on a creamy cappuccino like a smooth hit of espresso sunshine. “They’re good to their farmers, and they have long-term relationships,” explained Shively. Another unique beverage treat is their iced oat milk matcha — with just three ingredients (oat milk, matcha, and simple syrup), it’s the perfect refresher after a long bike ride.
Shively’s industry relationships are carefully considered and nurtured as she lovingly refers to her “LTR” (long-term relationship) with D’Angelo Bakery. The beloved spot has supplied the bread for Lunchbox since its opening in 2000 and now provides all the toast and pastry goodness for Dean.
Located on the corner of Hollister and Frederick Lopez, this breezy spot is an ideal hangout for college students and busy business professionals alike. While many coffee shops don’t even have outlets for lingering laptops, Dean encourages guests to hang, providing a portable battery pack for those looking to get some work done out of the house.
The shop is named after Shively’s beloved grandpa, Dean. Her father and brother proudly wear Dean as their middle name, and there’s a school named after him as well.
“He’s the kind of guy you would name things after, since he’s so great,” Shively explained of the former school principal. “He had this warm hospitality.”
Entering this classy yet relaxed coffee shop, where you are greeted with a smile, a brew of choice, a thoughtfully created snack, and a seat out in the patio sun, it’s clear that Dean’s welcoming spirit infuses this sweet new space as well.
6100-1 Hollister Ave., Suite B, Goleta; (805) 350-4110; deancoffeeshop.com.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.