Derf’s Café owner Kent Storey (pictured right with employee Jennifer Stewart) is closing up shop at the corner of De la Vina and Mission this Friday, June 21. | Credit: Angel Corzo

After 47 years of business, Derf’s Café on the corner of De la Vina and Mission streets in Santa Barbara is permanently closing its doors to customers this week. 

Founder Tim Derflinger opened the café in 1977 before passing it over to his brother Dean in 1980 after Tim got “into a fix,” according to Kent Storey, Derf’s current owner. Storey took over ownership in 1994 and ever since has been serving a range of American cuisines, from burgers and sandwiches to hot plates and breakfast.    

Following failed negotiations over the past year between Storey and property manager Kyle Kazan of Beach Front Property Management, however, the restaurant is set to be evicted on Friday, June 21. 

According to Storey, Kazan “flipped” on him after Storey was told to sell and then lease back his liquor license under a new contract agreement or else he’d be evicted. 

The property’s rent prices were also being jacked up close to $6,000 monthly, Storey said, though he was willing to pay more if the property management could conduct repairs within the restaurant and resolve liability issues. The property management did not act upon those requests, Storey said, and fighting to keep the space was no longer an option.

“When the lease with Mr. Storey expired, we approached him with the intention of entering into a long-term agreement,” Kazan said in a statement over email. “After many months of discussions, we were unfortunately unable to agree on terms and have decided to move in a different direction.”

The Nugget restaurant chain, which has locations in Summerland and Goleta and another coming to Carpinteria, is currently in talks to take over the corner, according to Storey. The Nugget owner Bob Montgomery wants to change the location’s name to “Derf’s Nugget,” Storey said. 

As for Storey, he plans to keep the Derf’s name and take his liquor license elsewhere, he said. Though he’s been looking for a new location for Derf’s, he said any possibility of relocation for the restaurant is slim to none.

“I think it’s only Derf’s right here,” said Storey, who plans to continue his contracting business.

Despite Derf’s uncertain future, the weeks leading up to the eviction have been some of the best Storey’s seen for the restaurant.

“Since the word got out [of the closure], the love that’s been coming around this place has been unbelievable,” Storey said.

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