Francisco Ibanez and Gene Sanchez are the new owners of the Harbor Restaurant and Longboard Grill, one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic restaurants.
The owners, who plan to keep the restaurant’s name, told the News-Press Friday they plan to renovate the 1,200-square foot building, add more seafood and low-calorie dishes, and do more to attract the nightlife crowd.
Mr. Ibanez said they want to “revive, remodel and refresh.”
Harbor Restaurant and Longboard Grill, a recognizable dining destination on Stearns Wharf, has been owned for more than four decades by Dave Perry and the Scott Family.
The waterfront restaurant is known for its popular food, romantic dinners, weddings, party venues and charity events in Santa Barbara.
The sale was brokered by Dan Moll of Hayes Commercial Group.
Mr. Sanchez, a seafood supplier with more than 20 years’ experience, served as the seafood supplier for the restaurant under the previous ownership, which is how he met his business partner, Mr. Ibanez.
Mr. Ibanez has more than 28 years of experience owning restaurants, some of them Mexican seafood restaurants.
“We thought this was a very good opportunity for both of us to do well and to renovate the restaurant, because the restaurant is a little bit outdated. It was an opportunity and good timing,” Mr. Ibanez told the News-Press.
The new owners are working with architects to renovate and add some features. One addition will be a coffee shop with pastries, which will be in a previously unused room.
“We are working on things to make it much more appealing for both tourists and locals,” Mr. Ibanez said.
“It is a very iconic restaurant in Santa Barbara — a beautiful restaurant with a lot of potential,” said Mr. Ibanez. “We want to revive, remodel and refresh. We don’t want to change the name. We want to improve the restaurant.”
One aspect that will be changing is the menu, both the food and drink items.
The owners are working with the chefs to completely renovate the menu. The current chef, Marcelo, will continue in that role and will be joined by a new chef, Abraham Lemus.
The co-owners said the new menu will include more seafood plates and more healthy dishes such as salads and low-calorie items.
The new owners are hoping to cultivate more of a nightlife crowd.
“One of our ideas is to make it more appealing for locals,” Mr. Ibanez said. “We are looking to remodel and include a lounge where you can have a drink and listen to music. We have a lot of hope and enthusiasm and between myself and Gene we have the experience.”