With many people hoping to gain a little sense of normalcy with each passing day, the Mar Monte Hotel at 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd is bringing that back something that’s familiar for any person over the age of 21: Happy Hour.
The newly opened hotel brought its happy hour back a little over a week ago, open to both people staying at the location and locals trying to filter in for a nice spot. It is from Sundays through Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m.
“We really just want to embody this community,” Ingrid Braun, the hotel’s GM, told the News-Press.
“We want to be a fun place not just for the guests, but for our locals. I’ve always been a lover of happy hours myself, and myself and the team since day one we wanted to get some local awareness through happy hour.”
In the past couple of weeks, people have been loving the happy hour. According to Ms. Braun, she has received a ton of positive feedback.
More importantly, the hotel is able to provide this happy hour while also making sure it keeps patrons safe. This is because the outdoor space is very vast and open, allowing for people to maintain social distancing.
“We do have a backup spot if we have overflow space, but it really hasn’t’ come to that. We do hope one day it comes to that, but for right now we are okay. All our employees have been following the CDC and county guidelines for months, and we are confident we can continue doing that,” Ms. Braun said.
The food is also what helps set Mar Monte’s happy hour apart.
The hotel isn’t just serving up traditional meats with its deal, it’s actually serving some fresh seafood. This also means the menu is changed almost daily depending on what is available and what will be most appetizing to customers.
Drinks are also changed almost daily to keep the atmosphere fresh and not give locals or residents the same experience every time.
“It’s not just your run of the mill french fries and chicken wings, it’s actually quality food,” Ms. Braun said.
“I feel like it’s a happy hour like no other just because the quality is great.”
Executive Chef Nathan Lingle is who decides on the rotating menu, and Ms. Braun said he is always excited to have the freedom to constantly change to keep it fresh.
Some of the favorites that Ms. Braun talked about included fresh oysters, mussels, and other seafood options.
Overall, the atmosphere cultivated by Mar Monte over the past couple of weeks has been great, as well. Locals and residents are respecting all the rules while also being able to enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean, and even spend some time in the pool.
“For the most part, everyone has been respectful. Our tables are set up around the pool and it’s spaced out and there has not been any crowds or any issues,” Ms. Braun said.
For Mar Monte, the happy hour is also a great chance to earn back some lost revenue due to the novel coronavirus.
Usually, hotels struggle in the fall and winter months anyway due to less travel or people just staying with family. Mar Monte is happy to be able to not only do something that benefits the community, but their employees as well.
“The idea was to bring in a little revenue, we won’t make a lot, but we also wanted to put our name out there. We’re not just the hotel that’s closed off to our guests. We want to be part of the community. The big thing about our rebrand is that we want to really represent Santa Barbara and share all this with them and be on the dining map,” she said.
Ms. Braun added that the staff has also been super excited to have a bit more interaction back in their lives as well, saying that they are happy to be providing a wonderful experience and get back to something they are also used to.
“We have a lot of food and beverage professionals that have been in the Santa Barbara dining scene working in it for a long time. I think they are excited to be part of creating something new right,” Ms. Braun said.
People are also just happy to be back to something a bit more normal and that’s what Mar Monte wants to be — even if it’s just for a couple hours out of the week.
“We want to be that safe space for people and help them kind of forget the times we’re living in. Besides the fact that employees are with gloves and masks, we want to be part of that escape with fun music and a really fun atmosphere suited to Santa Barbara,” Ms. Braun said.
“We are just thrilled to be able to be back into this and have our beverage employees at this time. We’re thrilled to have guests and locals delighted, and we’re excited to have the community during a time that is basically stressful all the time.”