State Street Comings, Goings Get Interesting

With autumn fast approaching, more State Street store operators are feeling the winter of their discontent and giving up the ghost.

From knick-knack sellers to clothing retailers even a vapo shop, State Street is seeing another exodus of store operators in the wake of rising triple-net leases that have hit more than $5 a square foot. (Triple nets include rent, utilities and services such as trash removal.) One restaurant operator reportedly paid $1,000 per square foot. Good thing it’s a small space.

But not all the State Street news is about closing stores. At the south end of the commercial corridor, project La Entrada continues to progress as the hodge-podge of retail buildings and the reshaped Hotel Californian move toward completion next year. Nearby at 111 State St., behind Hotel Indigo, a relocated Rusty’s Pizza has opened after construction around its former location on Carrillo Boulevard forced it to move.

Next to the hotel, the Moxi children’s museum is nearing its opening. And, at the corner of State and Yanonali streets, the former Bay Roadhouse Grill & Café is preparing to open as another eatery.

On lower State Street, the Vapo Lounge, 430 State St., has closed. How many sales of that product will pay the triple net? Several cigar-smoking lounges in the area seem to be succeeding.

After a long wait, the Drunken Crab restaurant, 416 State St., has finally opened. And at 517 State St., a new bar, the Red Piano, also has opened. But moving up State Street other former restaurant sites remain unoccupied, such as the old Panera Bread eatery at State and Ortega streets, which has been vacant for about two years.

Wine Therapy, 732 State St., has opened as a wine shop and tasting room, which means some 32 such enterprises are operating from the Funk Zone to downtown Santa Barbara.

After word that Macy’s is closing 100 stores nationwide this week, concern arises as to whether the store at 701 State St., and the other at 3805 State St., can survive the cutbacks. Can Santa Barbara really support two Macy’s? Stay tuned.

In fact, how many other retailers can State Street maintain? Footlocker in Paseo Nuevo has left an empty storefront. And, the former Guess clothing store at 807 State St. remains empty after about two years. Long-time empty store fronts still can be seen after some eight years of vacancy at 930 and 915 State St., although the 915 venue has interior demolition under way.

Michael Starz women’s apparel closed recently. It was next what used to be True Religion jeans store, which is still empty, and nearby at 927 State St., Heavenly Couture is preparing to shut down. Also departing is Savvy on State, 911 State St., which sells women’s clothing, shoes and other items. Next door, the cosmetic shop Gold Elements closed last month.

Seven Hills Turkish Bazaar, 1019 State St., has store closing signs up.

But at least one business is expanding. The former Cielito Restaurant in La Arcada court, 1114 State St., has morphed into the Viva Modern Mexican Cuisine. It is expanding into an adjacent space formerly occupied by a shop called El Encanto.

One of the most interesting changes on State Street involves some of the storefronts around the Granada Theater. The second-hand shop called Ransom, formerly at 1207 and 1209 State St., moved across the street to the old Granada Books Store at 1224 State St. Meanwhile, another rug, jewelry and lamp shop has opened at 1233 State St. near the former site of a similar store that is now boarded up. Next door, the Unity Shoppe is said to be leaving soon.

Another store from will be vacant after the November election at 1228 State St. where congressional candidate Salud Carvajal has his campaign office.