Award-winning chefs, winemaker team up to open restaurant
A group of six award-winning chefs, industry veterans, wine connoisseurs and close friends got a little too bored during the pandemic.
As a result, they decided to build a brand-new restaurant in downtown Solvang.
But it’s hardly just one restaurant.
Located at 1635 Mission Drive, Coast Range will be a Central Coast steakhouse and seafood restaurant with a full cocktail bar, a patio, and a daytime cafe and pastry program.
The different parts of the restaurant represent each of the chef’s signature styles.
The cafe and pastry shop will feature the award-winning pastries, coffee and casual lunches of Lincoln Carson, a recent finalist for a James Beard Award. Mr. Carson was chef and owner of Bon Temps in downtown Los Angeles, which was recognized as a best new restaurant from Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Times, TimeOut LA, Esquire and Food & Wine.
The Solvang restaurant’s Vaquero Bar will offer a wide selection of cocktails, local wine and craft beer, along with an elevated yet casual bar food menu for the outdoor dining patio. World-renowned winemaker, sommelier, author and James Beard Award winner Rajat Parr will curate a focused wine list of the best of the Central Coast, Northern California classics and steak and seafood friendly wines from around the world.
Anthony Carron and Steven Fretz will join forces for the steakhouse, which will feature steaks from the historic ranches in the Santa Ynez Valley, including products from the owner’s Santa Ynez ranch and seafood directly from the Santa Barbara wharfs. The menu will feature many classics done California style and French methods of cooking.
Both men worked with Chef Michael Mina and have been close friends for years.
Mr. Carron founded 800 Degrees Pizza and Top Round, two Los Angeles-based casual dining brands with global reach. Mr. Fretz was a co-founder of Top Round as well and opened Church Key in Los Angeles, leading some of the best kitchens in the country.
In addition, Hillary Calhoun is an experienced marketing professional who will oversee marketing, events and catering for Coast Range.
General manager and mixologist Joseph Sabato will also join the team. He’s worked at many fine restaurants, including The Bazaar, XIV, Katsuya, Sona and Ortolan.
“We’ve known each other a long, long time, and just somehow kind of all gravitated toward this region,” Mr. Carron told the News-Press.
While the industry experts are still ironing out many of the details for this ambitious restaurant, they do know their overall vision for Coast Range: a western vibe. The steakhouse will boast classic floor-to-ceiling leather booths and classic colors such as gold, red, white and black.
As for the Vaquero Bar, the chefs hope to make it Solvang’s cowboy bar, with classic rock and roll and country vinyl music from the 1950s.
At night, the pastry case in the cafe will turn into one of the stations for the kitchen, and the chefs will replace all the baked goods with steaks and fish for customers to select themselves.
“We’ll pull it out and weigh it for you and send it back to the kitchen to cook,” Mr. Carron said. “We want to do something pretty high end; there’s not really any high-end restaurants here in Solvang.
“This will be where you want to go on your birthday or for a great Saturday night out when you’re just visiting for the weekend.”
Mr. Fretz told the News-Press that since he and his friends had spent years cooking in big cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, the pandemic freed up time for them.
“I think we’re at the point now where we can say where we want to be and where we want to end up,” he said. “It’s always been a dream of all of ours to do something together, and this operation is going to be a really big operation for everyone’s skill set.”
“Collectively, all of us have opened maybe a dozen restaurants together,” Mr. Parr told the News-Press. “Randomly, we all kind of moved right here.”
The seasoned team hopes to open the Vaquero Bar and terrace dining in early February if COVID guidelines allow. The bar’s patio allows space for outdoor dining, or customers could take their food to a winery or to Solvang Park across the street.
Then they’re aiming to open the restaurant and cafe in the spring.
Once officially open, Coast Range will provide dining all day. The cafe will open at 7 a.m. with pastries, coffee and lunch until 2 or 3 p.m. The bar will open at noon with the bar menu food items and the steakhouse will open at 5 p.m. There will also soon be a brunch program on the weekends with oysters and champagne.
“We love the Central Coast. We love what it stands for, what it means,” Ms. Calhoun told the News-Press. “It’s important that we’re a gathering place for locals and tourists alike, so it’s just a welcoming, loving spot for people to come get an amazing meal.”