What’s in a name?
The picturesque restaurant tucked into the corner of La Arcada Court in downtown Santa Barbara is well known to locals as a popular gathering spot and a convenient lunch place for attorneys from nearby law offices and judges and other personnel from the Courthouse, just a block away.
Its location in La Arcada has a long local history. Originally the site of both a hospital and a church, La Arcada was rebuilt after the 1925 earthquake, and the space became a restaurant, first as Café de La Arcada, and then in 1949 became El Cielito, a popular restaurant owned by Harry Davis, who also owned Harry’s and Joe’s Café.
Mr. Davis sold El Cielito in 1973 to Josephine Wandell, who called the restaurant Josie’s El Cielito. In 1980, Josie’s El Cielito closed, and Acapulco took over the space until 2006.
There have been several owners since then. Among them are Brendan and Kourtney Searls, who named it Viva Modern Mexican in 2016.
Recently, the couple changed the name and concept to Eleven14 Craft House and Kitchen, which they explain is an “American gastropub, a hybrid pub and restaurant noted for serving good quality beer, wine and food at reasonable prices in a pub environment, meaning comfortable and casual. The term was coined by chefs in London in the 1990s, although there were similar brewpubs during the 1980s,” according to Mr. Searls.
To make sure that newcomers in town and tourists have no trouble finding its location at 1114 State St., they came up with the clever monicker, Eleven14, and to reinforce the address, the restaurant is open daily from 11:14 a.m. to 11:14 p.m., During Happy Hours from 3:14 to 6:14 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day Sunday, the homemade flat breads, burgers and bottles of wine are all half price.
“Soon it will include half off the house beer,” said Mr. Searls, a native of Cork, Ireland.
The burgers and sandwiches range in price from $10 to $14 and include the 1114 Burger, Bacon Burger, Truffle Mushroom Burger, Spicy Jalapeno Burger and Beyond Burger.
“Our 1114 Burger is special because it’s a hand-formed, half-pound quality meat patty that hasn’t been frozen with grilled onions and our secret aoli sauce,” said Mr. Searls.
The homemade flatbreads cost $14 and include Pepperoni, Pesto Caprese, Crafthouse, Club and Margherita.
“The Pepperoni flatbread is made with a mascarpone cream sauce,” said Mr. Searls.
Signature dishes, ranging in price from $14 to $28, include a Double-cut Brined Pork Chop ($18), Bourbon Chicken ($17), Wild Salmon ($19), Spicy Tequila Shrimp Fettucine ($16), Lobster Mac & Cheese ($16) and Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas ($18).
Share plates include Kung Pao Brussels ($10), Whiskey Glazed Meatballs ($10) and Poke Tuna Nachos ($15).
There are only two desserts — Lemon Cake and Flourless Chocolate Cake, both priced at $10.
A special menu for children and Sunday brunch menu are also available.
“There is live music outdoors Thursday through Saturday nights and all day Sunday, and upstairs seating is now available at all times instead of just during busy hours,” said Mr. Searls.
The couple have re-done the interior that Mr. Searls said is “absolutely spectacular. We made it bright and airy by bringing the outside in and the inside out. We took advantage of the natural light, and we have some marvelous lighted signs that say, ‘Eleven 14’ and ‘Cool.’
“ We have 14 TVs with screens that are 55 inches and 80 inches. It’s a wonderful ambience to watch sports, The NFL package is available,” said Mr. Searls. “Eleven14 has 16 beers on draft, and all of them, from tap to brewery, are locally sourced, no farther than two hours away. Wine and cocktails are also available.”
He added that “a major piece of our puzzle is that we have an event room that can accommodate 100 people, and with the outdoors, we can handle 400. We get many weddings from the Courthouse, and there are rehearsal dinners and corporate events, too. Santa Barbara is number 2 or 3 on the list for destination weddings in the United States,” said Mr. Searls.
In fact, it was a wedding that brought him to Santa Barbara.
“I was hitchhiking in Ireland and was picked up by a man driving a VW bus. He was from Montecito. We became friends, and he invited me to his wedding, What a stoke of luck that was,” said Mr. Searls.
After living in Boston for five years where he worked on construction, he came to Santa Barbara in 1990 and opened Video Shmideo in Victoria Court, then Bogart’s Cafe in La Arcada Court, and Dargan’s Irish Pub with three Irish friends.
Along the way, there was a sports bar called Rookees in Ventura, the Padaro Beach Grill in Carpinteria and Brendan’s in Camarillo, Newbury Park and Agoura Hills and Pizza Mizza in La Cumbre Plaza.
Besides Eleven14, he and Mrs. Searls, parents of Sean, 25, and Ben, 17, are owners of Mizza at 1112 State St., which is also in La Arcada Court.
What is the secret to his success as a restaurant owner?
“My skill is bringing people together and creating synergy and making a package that appeals to everybody,” he said in a 2018 article in the Santa Barbara Independent. “I’m like the conductor of an orchestra. I can’t play any instruments, but I do like the sound of good music.”
Eleven14 Craft House & Kitchen, 1114 State St. in La Arcada Court, is open from 11:14 a.m. to 11:14 p.m. daily. For more information, call 805-965-4770 or visit www.1114sb.com.