New burger joint opens at the harbor
CHOMP on the Rocks has come to Santa Barbara, and the ‘70s-themed diner sits on the harbor, allowing customers a “burger with a view.”
The retro restaurant adjacent to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum at 113 Harbor Way is meant to be a nostalgic, family-oriented joint with traditional burgers, hot dogs, “Old School” sandwiches and, of course, milkshakes.
Complete with black and white tiles, red leather stools and booths, and shiny aluminum tables, CHOMP on the Rocks doesn’t have any TVs or distractions.
Aaron Petersen, owner, operator and Southern California restaurateur, wants the joint to be a destination for families just spending time together. He owns three other versions of CHOMP in Solvang: CHOMP | Burgers, Fries, Shakes; brekkies by CHOMP; and The Coffee House by CHOMP.
“I’m excited to see if the concept will be a magnet for the kids and the families and the grandparents, with milkshakes, no TVs, ‘70s music …” he told the News-Press. “I’m excited to see if this concept works down at the waterfront.”
On the floor above CHOMP on the Rocks sits SALTY at the Beach, another new restaurant of Mr. Petersen’s, replacing the previous restaurant Endless Summer. SALTY at the Beach features a more upscale, sports bar feel with eight TVs.
While the owner has hard liquor licenses for both SALTY at the Beach and CHOMP on the Rocks, he’s holding off on the hard liquor at the latter, both because of COVID-19 and because he wants to see if it’s truly in demand.
“I don’t want some little girl with her grandfather having a milkshake and some group of guys next to them screaming at the TV,” Mr. Petersen said. “CHOMP is just a lot more family-oriented.”
However, local beers and wines are still available for CHOMP on the Rocks customers, and if they desire a cocktail, they can still order one and an employee will bring it down from upstairs.
The food at CHOMP on the Rocks aims to appeal to every member of the family, boasting a large burger menu, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches and a lengthy kids menu. Families can also enjoy shareable sides such as onion rings and chili cheese fries.
The “Old School” section of the menu attempts to instill nostalgia, with classics such as patty and tuna melts, a corned beef Reuben and hot pastrami. In addition, chili is served at all hours.
CHOMP on the Rocks’ dessert menu features handmade shakes, malts, floats, ice cream sundaes and an old-fashioned banana split.
The new restaurant, along with SALTY at the Beach, will soon feature special weekly promos such as “Industry Night,” “Locals Night” and “Fisherman’s Night.”
“It’s awfully pretty down here,” Mr. Petersen concluded. “Burger and a view. The view is just craziness.”
“It’s family-friendly, the staff’s great, the vibe’s great, the music, everything,” said Drew Stephens, a CHOMP on the Rocks employee. “Everyone’s going to have a good time.”
Kirk Johnson and Diana Woolley were the first customers of the new burger joint as they passed through from the Thousand Oaks area. The two frequented Endless Summer, which is what drew them to try the new restaurant in its place.
“The view is amazing,” Ms. Woolley told the News-Press. “We’re open-minded CHOMP is going to be delicious.”
She ordered the tuna salad, and Mr. Johnson ordered the shrimp tacos.
“As far as the ambiance, they still have those same fire pits and that is just stellar,” Ms. Woolley continued. “It is so nice being out here in the evening with friends with a drink and appetizers. I hope this will be a great success for the new owner and the staff seems really nice.”
“It’s really nice at night,” Mr. Johnson said. He added they visited the area for the Fourth of July, and the location boasts perfect views of the fireworks.
CHOMP on the Rocks is open Sunday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and accepts walk-ins only.