South Coast Deli's Chapala location will close after service on 1/20 | Credit: Callie Fausey

South Coast Deli on Chapala Street in Santa Barbara is closing its doors. The go-to local lunch spot recently lost its lease at 1436 Chapala Street and has scheduled the deli’s final day of operations for Friday, January 20. 

“It’s out of our hands,” said general manager Richy Gonzales. “We’d been trying to reach out to our landlord for a couple months, if not a couple years now, to sit down and talk about it, and for whatever reason, he has not returned text messages, phone calls, emails, so that kind of gave us the red flag that something was up.”

South Coast Deli owner Jim St. John told the Independent that he and his wife and co-owner, Darlene St. John, were “devastated and blindsided by this situation.” According to the St. Johns, they had been trying to nail down an extension or renewal on the lease since they “exercised their final option six years ago. 

“Sadly, our landlord wasn’t great at communicating, so we never knew where we stood,” St. John said. “In July of last year, he let me know via text that it was his intention to renew and keep us as tenants. Fast-forward to December 16, when we received notice that he would not be renewing. Our lease expired on December 31; he allowed us the month of January to move out.”

As to why their landlord decided not to renew their lease, St. John said he had no idea. “We have always been good tenants; our rent was paid early since day one,” he added. 

The aforementioned landlord, John Holehouse, who owns and leases the property at 1436 Chapala, declined to comment for this story. However, a colleague of Holehouse’s mentioned that a new, unidentified tenant is lined up to take over the space in February. 

The deli’s Chapala location has been in the business of serving sandwiches, salads, and everything in-between since 2008, and Gonzales said many of their employees have worked there for years, including himself, who started in 2011.

“The head cook here, he actually opened up the restaurant,” Gonzales said. “It’s kind of surreal for him to have to close it.”

The shuttered store will be survived by South Coast Deli’s three other locations around Santa Barbara, while the St. Johns are “actively searching for a spot that would be a good fit” for another store. 

St. John said that Gonzales and many others from the Chapala crew will be moving to South Coast’s existing locations following the store’s closure.

“At this point we want to focus on the positive,” St. John said. “We have three other successful locations in town … and we look forward to focusing our efforts on them. Delivery will still be available via DoorDash, and we will continue to deliver our Sammie platters to offices throughout the city. We have had 15 wonderful years at SCD Chapala and are thankful for all the support from the community.”

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