Despite some changes, Santa Barbara Market on Commercial Drive isn't going anywhere
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When you live in East Van—the Commercial Drive area in particular—there are things you tend to become overprotective of. A short list might very well include Havana Restaurant, Continental Coffee, Livia Bakery, and Santa Barbara Market.
Change might be good, but no one wants to see neighbourhood fixtures go the way of the East End Food Co-op.
With that in mind, there’s been a fair of hysteria on social media the past week or two involving the future of the Santa Barbara Market—famous as a go-to for straight-from-the-Okanagan bins of fruit, serve-yourself olives, and a deli counter that, for some reason, always seems to have 10 people lined up at it, even at 9:30 in the morning.
The panic, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Plenty of Fish goes something like this: you have until January 31 to get your shopping done, at which point Santa Barbara will be closing its doors for good.
Sometimes, however, you need to keep in mind the old adage “Don’t believe everything you read.” Especially on the Internet.
Contacted by the Straight, a Santa Barbara store manager came off a tad skittish, but nonetheless illuminating, when asked what the months ahead hold for the grocery store. (For those who aren’t into anonymous sources, said person’s name is Lina. Asked if she’d be willing to give her last name—which you can quite frankly find with a 1.3 second Google search, she hastily said, “No. Thank you.”, and immediately hung up.)
Before we get to the details, the good news: Santa Barbara isn’t, technically speaking, going anywhere.
“I’ll read you a little statement,” Lina told the Straight, noting that while said missive might exist somewhere on the Internet, at the moment it can only be found taped to the windows at Santa Barbara. “So, ‘We are happy to share with you, our wonderful community, the news that we have decided to retire and focus on family for the next steps in our lives. We are pleased to inform you that the market will continue under the leadership of a new owner who we are currently working with to help ensure a smooth transition. We would like to thank our friends, our neighbours, our loyal customers, and everyone who has helped make this community market, and we look forward to seeing you all again soon. Santa Barbara.’”
Getting anything more on the change proved something of a challenge.
Will Santa Barbara be closing during the transition from the family that currently runs it to the new owners?
“We don’t know that,” Lina said.
When will the new owner take over Santa Barbara?
“We’re not sure yet”.
Are the good people of Commercial Drive panicking for no reason?
“Okay?” (the subtext being “I’m hanging up now”, that followed by Lina doing just that.)
There you have it. Santa Barbara, which was first opened as a grocery store and flower shop in 1981 by Paco Celador, is still going to be operating in the same location moving forward. Now go worry about something else, like, for example, the fact that, assuming you don’t own a hot air balloon or military-grade jet pack, it’s almost impossible to get a really great iPhone photo of the East Van cross.
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