For 30 years, the Beachside Bar-Cafe at Goleta Beach Park has been Amado Simon’s home away from home.
Mr. Simon spent his teenage years washing dishes at Beachside, and eventually, he worked his way up the chain to become the general manager. Some of the locals he still serves today can remember when he was a young man bussing tables.
Over the 30 years of his career at Beachside Bar-Cafe, he has seen countless employees form lifelong friendships and even find their spouse on staff at the restaurant.
For him, the restaurant is not just a job. It’s a family.
So when Beachside announced last week that the restaurant would permanently close at the end of the month, Mr. Simon was devastated.
“This is my life,” Mr. Simon told the News-Press Monday. “I spend most of my time here at work. I’m still in shock. I come in, I try to work, I get emotional, and it’s tough. It’s very tough.”
Beachside Bar-Cafe announced its closing through a Facebook post Jan. 21, informing customers that the restaurant would remain open for takeout orders until the end of January or until supplies lasts.
“We want to thank our local community for your support and patronage through these ever-changing times,” the post said. “It is because of you that we had so much success in the 36 long years of business. We share an ethereal love for our customers and have memories that we will cherish forever.”
According to Mr. Simon, the rise in minimum wage requirements compounded with COVID-19 shutdowns ultimately led to the restaurant’s closure. For a few months now, the restaurant has struggled to bring in enough revenue to stay afloat.
Prior to the pandemic, the restaurant had about 140 employees, but after two COVID-19 lockdowns, the staff has dwindled to between 10 and 15 employees, Mr. Simon said.
Since its opening in 1985, Beachside Bar-Cafe has been an iconic spot for local business executives, families and UCSB students alike. Situated at the edge of the water at Goleta Beach Park, many would come to wine and dine at the restaurant and take in the stunning oceanside view.
Since the announcement of its closure, locals have reacted with an overwhelming amount of both grief and support, Mr. Simon said. The restaurant has been flooded with takeout orders, and many regulars have said sorrowful goodbyes to the restaurant they supported for decades.
“We had a lady come in and say, ‘Now where am I going to get my turkey sandwich?’ ” Mr. Simon said.
He later added, “People don’t want us to go.”
The announcement of the business closure also prompted waves of reaction from local business officials.
“Of all the losses we have suffered, this one seems particularly rough,” Kristin Miller, CEO of the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Beachside Café has played a key role in Goleta’s identity for decades.”
She continued: “It’s the place we gather for important business meetings when you need to impress — and special occasions for families — graduations, birthdays, anniversaries. This is our special place by the sea. To lose it, not because of lack of support from the community, but because of forces out of our control, is maddening and painful.”
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the end of Southern California’s stay-at-home orders, a change that, among other things, allows restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining.
At 8 o’clock this morning, Santa Barbara County officially returned to what could be open and closed during the purple tier.
The lift on the lockdown could bring much needed revenue back into local restaurants and businesses that were hit particularly hard during the most recent stay-at-home order.
But for Beachside Bar-Cafe, a green light to return to outdoor dining may be too little too late.
According to Mr. Simon, the decision to close the Goleta landmark is essentially final. It would be up to owner Dave Hardy to reverse course at this point.
“I do believe in miracles, but I don’t know,” Mr. Simon said. “It’s really difficult … hopefully we can convince (Dave) to keep fighting on a month by month basis, but we just don’t know.”