More than three consecutive days of rain in Isla Vista is a rather rare phenomena. Over the last few weeks, bike paths and streets flooded, palm trees toppled, and a Del Playa balcony even plummeted into the ocean. Facing the elements became increasingly daunting for residents accustomed to year-round sunshine.
Despite conditions, Isla Vista’s authentic local restaurants continued to supply the community with essential provisions such as coffee, bagels, and pizza. The Bottom Line talked to local restaurant managers to find out how the storm impacted business flow, discussing any noticeable trends in sales.
“Anytime it rains you’re going to lose dine-in business, but you’re going to get lots of deliveries,” explained Thomas Todd, General Manager of Woodstock’s. The resident pizza joint has sufficient space to seat a large crowd inside, but the appeal of enjoying Woodstock’s without leaving the house was apparently the preferable choice during the storm.
While newer restaurants may struggle to keep up with the cost of rent in Isla Vista, Todd ensured The Bottom Line of Woodstock’s confidence in loyal locals to keep the business afloat.
“The people in this community really support us,” said Todd. “They come in, have a beer after work or after class; pint night, trivia night, [and] all that stuff really keeps us going. A … little rain isn’t going to scare us.”
Caje, a local cafe and popular study spot, provides ample patio seating where customers socialize, study, or do both while sipping a latte or enjoying a smoothie bowl. With the consistently rainy conditions last week, the activities were moved inside, keeping the cafe’s limited indoor seating at max capacity.
Jael Trindade, a manager at Caje, explained that “a big part about people coming here is to have food and study at the same time.” When realizing the lack of vacancy inside, potential customers often changed course to the library or other alternative places to hit the books. Though Caje, like Woodstock’s, is confident about their position among Isla Vista establishments, Trindade did notice a “a little bit of a drop in sales” during the wet weather.
The list of Isla Vista’s primary food joints includes the well-known Bagel Cafe. Providing an array of unique bagel sandwiches with funky names, the cafe often has a line out the door. In contrast to Woodstock’s and Caje, however, Bagel Cafe has no indoor seating available. The smaller venue relies on its patio and a “to-go” style of service.
According to Jacob Root, the manager of Bagel Cafe, the patio’s loss of appeal due to the rain led to a mediocre decrease in sales this month. However, because students leave town for winter break and take their business with them, December usually reigns as the tightest month in terms of money, explained Root.
“You’d always prefer it be sunny because it’s just nicer,” admits Todd, “but … we live in the Santa Barbara area; [so it] doesn’t rain all that much.”
Even though each day’s sales matter in the food and service industries, Santa Barbara’s consistently sunny and warm conditions are appreciated by not only the local communities but also the restaurants where people enjoy dining outdoors.