The owner of The Natural Cafe has indicated his willingness to work with Downtown Santa Barbara to find answers to problems he says led to his decision to shut down his restaurant on lower State Street.
Robin Elander, executive director of Downtown Santa Barbara, told the News-Press that she has been in touch with Kelly Brown, owner of The Natural Cafe at 508 State St.. who said he would at least meet with other business owners to discuss the problems he first outlined in a letter to his landlord saying he would not be renewing his lease.
“I have connected with Kelly Brown and he is planning to come to our next Food and Beverage Committee meeting to learn more about the group’s efforts,” she said.
In his letter to his landlord, Mr. Brown complained about aggressive panhandling on the part of some of the homeless people who roam the 500 block of State Street. He said these transients also lock themselves in his restrooms and bathe, urinate in his planters and consume alcohol and illegal drugs.
Ms. Elander told the News-Press earlier that her group has several mechanisms to address issues confronting business owners, “none of which to my knowledge the owner of Natural Cafe took part in over the past two years, though I wish he would have so we could have supported him.”
She said they had not heard back from him until now, perhaps an indication that he is at least considering changing his mind about closing his restaurant, a downtown fixture for 30 years.
Downtown Santa Barbara’s food and beverage committee meetings are held monthly, “where downtown restaurateurs and bar owners can come and work together to proactively solve problems and work towards bettering downtown,” she said.
These meetings rotate to different locations but are often held at Holdren’s Steak and Seafood on the third Thursday of the month from 2-3 p.m.
“We also are more than willing to work with members of the public as it relates to downtown or any business to address needs directly,” she said. “Anyone can reach out to me directly who may need assistance or would like to participate in one of these meetings or discuss further.” Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org