Cocktail Corner: A New Chapter in Cool Cocktails at CPK

Revamped bar menus at California Pizza Kitchen sport hand-shaken cocktails like this California Roots drink—made with Svedka Vodka, fresh avocado and mint, fresh Agave Sour with a fennel salt rim. Photo courtesy CPK.

Revamped bar menus at California Pizza Kitchen sport hand-shaken cocktails like this California Roots drink—made with Svedka Vodka, fresh avocado and mint, fresh Agave Sour with a fennel salt rim. Photo courtesy CPK.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Trust me, I do realize that cool cocktails are not the first thing you think of when you think of California Pizza Kitchen, but a recent foray to check out their updated decor and menu (both of which are swell) yielded some surprisingly creative and fun libations on the cocktail menu, as well as in the kitchen!

We tasted a few different things, including my personal fave, the new California Crush, made with Absolut Mandarin, Absolut Citron, Muddled Mint and Fresh Orange and Lemon. It’s a perfect summery cocktail. It goes down easy with just enough tartness to make you go “yum!”

Fresh new cocktails from California Pizza Kitchen, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Fresh new cocktails from California Pizza Kitchen, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Also quite tasty, the Hand-Shaken Agave Mojito, with Bacardi Superior Rum, Fresh Agave Sour, Fresh Mint and Lime and Organic Hawaiian Sugar Cane, and the super pretty Blueberry Ginger Smash, with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Monin Organic Agave Nectar, Domaine de Canton Ginger, Fresh Blueberries and Lime, and Cranberry Juice.

Certainly one of their most unique new items is the California Roots cocktail, which includes mashed avocado—as well as Svedka Vodka, fresh avocado and mint, and fresh Agave Sour with a fennel salt rim.

Blueberry Ginger Smash, courtesy CPK

Blueberry Ginger Smash, courtesy CPK

California Pizza Kitchen (located here in Santa Barbara at 719 Paseo Nuevo) also has a nice, Seasonal Harvest Sangria, made with Bacardi Superior Rum, St. Germain Elderflower and Kendall Jackson Chardonnay with Muddled Grapes, Basil and fresh Agave Sour.

Their solid, California-focused wine list is also good and they offer a “wine adventure guarantee,” which means if you taste a new wine and aren’t thrilled, they’ll replace it for free. Not bad way to end (or start) a day of shopping at Paseo Nuevo!


Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 26, 2015.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinabergwrites magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

A Passion for Business Innovation

The Manzo-McKaig Melting Pot 

By Leslie Dinaberg

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

Like many immigrant families, the Manzo-McKaig patriarch came to the U.S. to pursue the American Dream.

Mission accomplished. From the Italian Store to the Pan-American Market chain, Enrico’s Deli and Casa Flores Tortillas, to their current successes in entrepreneurial ventures, hard work—and a love of food and family—run deep in the Manzo-McKaig gene pool.

Luigi Manzo came to the United States from Italy shortly after World War I, and together with his wife Luigina, opened the Italian Store, on February 1, 1929, according to a 1956 story in the Santa Barbara News-Press (“Store Will Give Birthday Orchids”). The imported food market was the first of its type in Santa Barbara, says Manzo’s granddaughter, Louise McKaig, The original Italian Store was located at 10 E. Cota St., the historic building that now houses the Palace Restaurant.

In the early days, Luigi and Luigina operated the store themselves. “Specialty and imported groceries and their own make of salumi and sausage brought popularity to the store. With a small truck they delivered orders as far as Santa Paula, Camarillo, Oxnard and Carpinteria,” according to the Santa Barbara News-Press.

“My Grandma always told me she came through Ellis Island [also from Italy] when she was nine,” says Louise. “She said that her father and his brother went to work in the coal mines in Oklahoma.” According to the 1930 U.S. Census records, Luigina arrived in this country in 1915, and classified herself as an “unpaid worker, member of the family” at the “Family Grocery Store” in Santa Barbara.

The Manzo’s son Enrico “Pete” (Louise’s father) also began working at the store at the tender age of seven. “His first job was dusting, straightening shelves, and stacking the bulk eggs into cartons,” says Pete’s wife Dorothy “Dottie” Manzo. “Pete was still in high-school when his father, Luigi Manzo, got sick and handed Pete the keys to the store. ”

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

In 1947, the family moved the store to larger quarters at 802 Chapala St. (now the back side of Paseo Nuevo Mall). Enrico graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1948, and served as an Army medic during the Korean War. He formally took over the management of the store when he completed his military service in 1953.

He also came back to home to his sweetheart, Dorothy “Dottie” Flores. “She was an elevator girl at the Granada Theatre,” says Louise. Shortly after Enrico’s return from the war, the couple was married at St. Raphael’s Church in Goleta in 1954. “Seven days after we married, Pete put an apron on me and taught me to use the cash register,” recalls Dottie. “I was the head checker and was in charge of training the other checkers. I also prepared the figures for bookkeepers and accountants.”

The Manzo family grew quickly. Michael, Louise and then Louis were born—all three siblings still reside in Santa Barbara. Michael is an architect and Louis and Louise are both real estate agents. Dottie also lives in town and enjoys lots of family time.

The business grew too. In 1955 the store more than doubled its floor space. “At that time there weren’t very many grocery stores in Santa Barbara,” says Dottie.

Unheard of for the time, Enrico also built a 14,000-square-foot paved parking lot in the rear of the Chapala store. “My father was always so innovative,” says Louise. “We were one of the first stores to have a parking lot, which made it easier for people to buy more groceries since they didn’t have to carry them as far.”

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

“I remember we were probably all under ten years old and during the Fiesta Parade one year … our dad gave all of us kids a refrigerated chest full of drinks and sodas and told us to make sure the parking lot was used by customers only, and that we could sell drinks to parade goers in the meantime and keep all the profit from the soda sales for ourselves, says Michael.

“That was probably our first taste of running a business without our parents,” says Louise.

According to the Santa Barbara News-Press report, at that point the Italian Store had 15 employees—including six butchers in the meat department—and stocked more than 5,000 grocery items.

In 1956, they changed the store’s name to Pan American Market, which quickly became a chain of five stores (co-owned with Jack Woolsey), including one on Milpas Street, where Chapala Market is now, one on upper State Street where Bev Mo is now, one in Carpinteria, and one on the Mesa. “Jack was a partner for a while when we opened our second store on the Mesa, where Lazy Acres is now,” says Dottie.

Enrico continued to be creative and pioneering with his stores—which featured state-of-the-art checkout equipment, modernized frozen-food departments and other innovations to make shopping easier. He was also always cutting edge with his marketing strategies.

One such promotion delighted local children. “We had a store in Carpinteria,” says Louise, “and my dad had this friend who was a helicopter pilot fly over the store dressed as Santa for Christmas.” Helicopter Santa also visited the Mesa store, according to Dottie.

This kind of attention-getting stunt wasn’t being done at that time; it was unheard of, Louise says.

“Pete was always coming up with new innovative business ideas, something inherited by our daughter Louise,” says Dottie. “We had special events, guests, or prizes for customers throughout the year especially for holidays and special occasions.”

“One year, my dad brought Engineer Bill, the famous kids TV show host, to our Pan American Market in Carpinteria and publicized it to bring new customers. Engineer Bill would be my kids’ generation’s version of Mr. Rogers,” explains Louise. “Sometimes Dad would hire a photographer to take family photos for customers wanting a keepsake. Creating an experience is an important approach to running a successful business. I’ve tried to follow in my father’s footsteps by implementing a lot of his teachings into my business like by selling a good product but also a good experience. On Mother’s Day he would have orchids given to all the mothers who were shopping at the store.”

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

Courtesy Montecito Magazine

“Growing up, my brothers, Mike and Louis and I spent a lot of time at the grocery stores. Most of the employees were like aunts and uncles to us,” recalls Louise.

“I remember bagging groceries for customers, stocking shelves, unloading cases of food off delivery trucks and miscellaneous repairs around the stores, ” says Louis.

“There were a lot of good characters and we had a lot of fun times,” says Michael.

“One time there was a butcher who wasn’t very nice to us. My dad suggested we give him ‘Happy Pills.’ So the next time he wasn’t being nice, my brothers and I made a little jar with M&Ms and wrote ‘Happy Pills’ on it,” says Louise.

“After that he was a lot nicer to us,” adds Michael.

The family business ethos was backed up with innovative business strategies. For example, the Pan-American Market was also one of the first grocery stores to have a full service deli on the premises, says Louise. A portion of the Chapala Street store eventually became Enrico’s Deli, which was beloved for its Enrico sandwich with Enrico sauce. “It was olive oil with really finely chopped celery and parsley and salt and pepper and garlic and a few other things—it was just really good,” recalls Louise. “It had just enough strength that you probably didn’t want to go on your first date to Enrico’s, but it was so good! Plus, we used really good Italian meats.”

“Enrico’s Deli was a success because we had great food and quick lunches,” says Louis. “The fast food chains were not in Santa Barbara yet, and for customers that wanted a reasonably priced, quick, hot lunch, such as a meatball, roast beef, turkey or pastrami sandwich on a French roll, Enrico’s was the place to be.”

The folks at the website also remember Enrico’s Deli and the Italian Market fondly, writing: “They sold salami, salciccie, cotechini alla vaniglia, etc, as well as ‘delicacies’ of every sort. Many people remember… the extraordinary sandwiches that were made to order, and no matter how long the line was, it was worth the wait.  The deli cases were full of cheeses, olives, and meats.  The shelves were still stocked with “delicacies” that were hard to find anywhere else – authentic Italian food in colorful packages and tins, and treats from other places, too … France, Germany, Spain …The air was heavy and rich with possibilities. It seemed like the whole city was sad when they closed their doors.”

Of course, the Manzo business doors didn’t stay closed for long.

“My father would retire and then decide ‘I’m too young to retire, I’m not retired,'” laughs Louise. “And then he’d start something again.”

“We sold the stores because we wanted to go into our next businesses,” says Dottie.

That next business was Casa Flores, a brand of tortillas.

“When my dad went into the tortilla business, tortillas weren’t produced and distributed at the level that my father envisioned,” says Louise. “My dad’s idea for Casa Flores Tortillas was to make tortillas the most popular substitute to the American bread industry.”

Prior to that, people either manufactured flour tortillas or they manufactured corn tortillas, she explains. “But this was the first time they were both under same roof. … His goal was to have people think of tortillas like bread.”

“For Casa Flores Tortillas the boys were our route managers, in charge of the trucks and routes while Louise and I ran the day-to-day of the business, accounting, payroll, human resources, scheduling of over a hundred employees, and the office side of things. The main office headquarters were located on Laguna Street,” says Dottie.

“Our family set a lot of standards in the food industry like seeing tortillas in every store with their own section, ‘food best by’ dates, and tortilla delivery schedules that matched the bread schedules, ” says Louise. “These are expected these days but before my dad thought of these things it was relatively unheard of.”

She continues, “He was very smart. He gave people things that no one else was getting. For example, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing was new then, and he sold a lot of that. One of the first distributors was a family friend. When our family opened the first Enrico’s Deli, people could design their sandwich with a quarter pound of meat, their choice of bread, their choice of toppings, a salad choice plus a side green salad with Ranch dressing. As a child I remember lines out the door every day at lunchtime. The new deli and the new salad dressing were a very big hit in Santa Barbara.”

According to a 1975 story in the Santa Barbara News-Press (“Fiscal Front: Tortillas Abound at Casa Flores”), the wholesale Casa Flores Food Factory, located at 526 Laguna St. (now Santa Barbara Paint Depot), had a million dollar gross per year, turning out 30-40,000 dozen tortillas a day, with a daily fleet of 30 trucks taking tortillas to stores and restaurants between San Diego and Paso Robles. The company was eventually purchased by Mission Foods, which is now the number one tortilla company in the United States.

But back in the day, Louise would travel to various supermarkets and food trade shows to demonstrate how to make quesadillas and other things with the tortillas.

She explains, “At that time, bread was at the center of the American meal, but my dad wanted people to think of tortillas like bread was at the time. As part of our campaign I would travel doing food demonstrations in various grocery stores, which was a new concept but has become a common marketing strategy today.”

She continues, “My father employed a chemist and they would experiment with new formulas to make tortillas but also new ways to use them. … In those days, tortillas were typically fried, which is not as healthy, so I started steaming tortillas at trade shows and it became a big hit. I was running our tortilla booth at a big Smith’s Food King trade show in Salt Lake City and every day we had a long line of people wanting to taste our new healthier method of ‘steaming tortillas.’ This man kept coming up to me saying, ‘You’re more popular than Miss America!’ I finally asked ‘who is that guy?’ It turned out to be Dee Smith of Smith’s Food King, and Miss America was actually there hosting another booth that wasn’t as popular as ours. That impressed Dee Smith. I made so many quesadillas that week and I had so many people lining up to try our ‘steamed tortilla’ quesadillas that I remember making them in my dreams.”

“I love that my grandpa actually came up with the idea and was the first to do a honey wheat tortilla, no one was doing that back then,” says Louise’s son, Samuel McKaig. “It my mom’s idea to have a little bee on the front of the package.”

He continues, “I think something that added to the company was it wasn’t just my grandpa, [the kids] were always running it for him. The kids ran the operations and the corporate side of things and my grandma did the accounting and the payroll. So it was always a family thing.”

“We learned a lot doing that,” says Louise. “Even just the mind set of you either are building skills and what you don’t know how to do you learn to do because you just keep building on your knowledge, and surround yourself with knowledgeable people too.”

Louise—an agent with Village Properties—says her family grew up having family meetings about the businesses. This is a tradition she’s continued with her own family, which includes her high school sweetheart husband Bruce McKaig, a retired Santa Barbara County Firefighter. The couple actually met when they were students at La Colina Junior High. Louise says she still teases Bruce that he’s not really a native Santa Barbaran because he didn’t move to town till he was six months old. They have two sons, Samuel and Ian, and a daughter, Shelby McKaig Rowe.

“My brother and I started in media and film, so we were doing commercials and helping Louise with her marketing,” says Samuel. “My grandfather was always trying to come up with innovative things and that was something he passed on to us, our business meeting family dinners,” he laughs.

In addition to business, the kitchen is also at the heart of this family. “Another thing that we’ve duplicated from my childhood is that we lived three generations together,” says Louise. “So my grandmother would be cooking and we had our chores for how everything would run smoothly, because my mom was working full time. At some point my Uncle Joe came to live with us too. … Now my husband’s mom lives with us. And now with me working full time and my husband retired we sort of switch off making meals.”

“And we all cook different meals,” adds Samuel. “I married a French person, so we got some different cuisine in there. She cooks a lot.”

Along with the international cuisines of the various family businesses, Louise also had another business coordinating internal programs for travelers who came to Santa Barbara. “I learned all kinds of different skills doing that, ” she says. “You have to, especially when someone can’t communicate in your own language.”

The family legacy of creativity and always working to improve oneself continues to live on in Santa Barbara. “That was something he (Grandpa Enrico) was always teaching (my mother) and he was trying to teach me is being innovative and coming up with the next thing that no one has done before,” says Samuel. “He taught that to Louise and that’s what she uses in her real estate and that’s what she taught me… being creative and pushing the limits.”

“My parents and grandparents taught me that if you work hard, provide the best products and great service your customers and clients will keep coming back,” says Louis.

“Dad taught us to treat our employees and coworkers the way you want to be treated. He always made sure that everyone in the company was taken care of,” says Michael.

“As a kid I had learned so much about business and being an entrepreneur from working with my dad. My dad taught me that a successful business is created by long-time personal relationships, by always giving a customized experience, and by providing a better service to your clients than they can get anywhere else. I think these values have always been at the core of our family’s businesses from my grandfather’s first Italian Store in the 1920s to my real estate business and my children’s businesses. He taught by example that to make a business successful you need people to want to work for you. He helped our employees from top to bottom feel like they were an essential part of a team.”

Originally published in Montecito Magazine, Spring-Summer 2015.

Tamales & Tequila at the Bacara

Courtesy Santa Barbara Tamales-To-Go.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Tamales-To-Go.

Want to learn how to make delicious tamales?

Expert tamale chef Richard Lambert of Santa Barbara Tamales to Go teaches an interactive class on how to make traditional tamales from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 at the Bacara Resort & Spa (8301 Hollister Ave.).

In what’s sure to be a fun—and tasty—afternoon, Lambert teaches the techniques he uses to make his firm’s award-winning tamales and salsas.

Santa Barbara Tamales To Go Owner/Chef Richard Lambert will teach a tamale and tequila tasting class at the Bacara on Sunday, June 28. Courtesy photo.

Santa Barbara Tamales To Go Owner/Chef Richard Lambert will teach a tamale and tequila tasting class at the Bacara on Sunday, June 28. Courtesy photo.

Guests are served a variety of tamales and each tamale is paired with an expression of Tequila Alquimia, a gold medal cognac-like sipping tequila.

The enrollment fee is $30 per person and includes food, tequila, printed recipes and handout materials. Click here to purchase tickets.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 22, 2015.

Editor’s Pick: Casa del Herrero Celebrates 90 Years

Casa del Herrero, courtesy photo.

Casa del Herrero, courtesy photo.

George Fox Steedman and his wife Carrie moved into their new home on June 29, 1925. Now we have a chance to celebrate “father of Santa Barbara style” George Washington Smith’s architectural legacy with a special garden party. Casa del Herrero, 1387 E. Valley Rd., Montecito. June 28, 4–7 p.m. 805/565-5653,

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Summer 2015.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Editor’s Pick: Santa Barbara Wine Festival

Courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

A beloved fundraiser for Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Wine Festival on June 27 is a wonderful way to appreciate being out in nature underneath the oaks along Mission Creek, while enjoying more than 50 tantalizing wines from the Central Coast’s premier wineries complemented by fitting pairings from local chefs. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta de Sol. 6/27, 2–5 p.m. 805/682-4711,

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Summer 2015

—Leslie Dinaberg

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara Wine Festival

"The Magnificent Seven" (left to right) Ken Brown, Bob Lundquist, Richard Sanford, Jim Clendenen, Drake Whitcraft, Doug Margerum, and Fred Brander - a veritable 'who's who' of Central Coast winemakers, will all be at this year's Santa Barbara Wine Festival again – for the 28th year. Photo by Joni Kelly.

“The Magnificent Seven” (left to right) Ken Brown, Bob Lundquist, Richard Sanford, Jim Clendenen, Drake Whitcraft, Doug Margerum, and Fred Brander – a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Central Coast winemakers, will all be at this year’s Santa Barbara Wine Festival again – for the 28th year. Photo by Joni Kelly.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Especially when the proceeds go to support the work of the museum.

Santa Barbara Wine Festival, photo by Bob Dickey

Santa Barbara Wine Festival, photo by Bob Dickey

“Santa Barbara Wine Festival is a wine-focused festival,” says Festival Chair, Meridith Moore. Indeed, more than 50 wineries will be pouring at the museum, including some of our favorites like Santa Barbara Winery, Arthur Earl, Grassini, Kita Wines (Chumash Tribe), Palmina, Alma Rosa, Koehler, Au Bon Climat, Babcock, Sunstone, Fess Parker, Andrew Murray, Margerum, Jamie Slone, Beckmen and Whitcraft, to name just a few.

There are plenty of tasty bites at Santa Barbara Wine Festival as well. “We have a large array of top-shelf food purveyors, many of whom are especially paired with wineries that complement one another,” says Moore. “It is exciting because many of the winemakers and chefs are present and available for the guests to meet and discuss the qualities of their varietals and menu items–just another example of why this has become one of the most beloved wine festivals on the Central Coast and the one to attend.”

Scrumptious samples from local food purveyors will complement the wines poured at the Museum's annual event. Photo by Valentin Mendoza.

Scrumptious samples from local food purveyors will complement the wines poured at the Museum’s annual event. Photo by Valentin Mendoza.

Among the yummy items on the menu are: Braised Short Rib Meatballs (Michael’s Catering); Oyster Shooters (Brophy Bros.); Homemade Tamales (Santa Barbara Tamales To Go); Sage and Butternut Squash Raviolis (Ca Dario); Cheese Tastings from around the World (C’est Cheese); Hand-rolled Truffles (Jessica Foster Confections); and Mini Cupcakes (Coveted Cakery), to name a few.

Santa Barbara Wine Festival takes place at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta de Sol, 805/682-4711, on Saturday, June 27 from 2-5 p.m.

For more information and to purchase admission for the Santa Barbara Wine Festival, please visit

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 19. 2015.

A Day Away: Catalina Island

Living in a world-class vacation destination like Santa Barbara has a bounty of blissful benefits, but sometimes it’s still nice to get out of town for a bit. Here are a few favorite spots that are less than a day away from home.

Catalina Island
Relaxation and indulgence go hand-in-hand on Catalina Island, where you can enjoy being pampered at Island Spa Catalina. Courtesy of Santa Catalina Island Company.

Relaxation and indulgence go hand-in-hand on Catalina Island, where you can enjoy being pampered at Island Spa Catalina. Courtesy of Santa Catalina Island Company.

This beautiful getaway—just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California via Catalina Express (800/481-3470,, with ports in San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point—offers a little piece of paradise with striking clear-blue waters and a laid-back friendly vibe that Santa Barbarans will appreciate and feel right at home with.

Avalon is a great walking town, with no cars allowed in much of the waterfront district and a charming path stretching from the Catalina Express boat moorings to Descanso Beach, a mile away. Descanso Beach Club (1 Descanso Ave., 310/510-7410, is a terrific spot for sunset cocktails. Poke into quaint shops like the eye-popping Afishionados Gallery Store (203 Crescent Ave., 310/510-2440,, which has wonderful one-of-a-kind jewelry and art, and C.C. Gallagher (523 Crescent Ave., 310/510-1278,, a coffee house/wine tasting room that also carries high-end gifts, or pop into Lloyd’s of Avalon Confectionery (315 Crescent Ave., 310/510-7266, for sweet treats.

Sip your blues away with cocktails at Maggie's Blue Rose on Catalina Island, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Sip your blues away with cocktails at Maggie’s Blue Rose on Catalina Island, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Explore the island further with a visit to Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden (1402 Avalon Canyon Rd., 310/510-2897, or by renting a golf cart at Catalina Auto and Bike Rentals (635 Crescent Ave., 310/510-1600,

Avalon’s newest restaurant, Maggie’s Blue Rose (417 Crescent Ave., 310/510-3300,, features innovative Mexican cuisine (try the mole braised duck taquitos, the watermelon and spiced grilled shrimp salad and the fabulous grilled street corn on the cob, which is “derailed” tableside) and an extensive margarita selection (think tamarindo, cucumber and jalapeno, and desert pear flavors).

We also enjoyed a fantastic ocean-view dinner at another newbie to the island, Bluewater Avalon Seafood Restaurant (306 Crescent Ave., 310/510-3474, Located in the historic Avalon waterfront building that once served as the arrival and departure point for the SS Avalon and SS Catalina steamers, the restaurant offers a contemporary take on the classic New England seafood house.

To truly feel pampered, check out the brand-new Island Spa Catalina (163 Crescent Ave., 310/510-7300,, which offers 15,000 square feet of indoor bliss, as well as a variety of outdoor spaces, including luxurious lounges, a soaking pool and the stunning turquoise-tiled vista deck. The spa features nine treatment rooms, a nail studio (the blend bar mani/pedi is a special treat for the senses), and light bites at Encanto Café. It’s a wonderful place to spend the day with friends (girls’ weekend treat or pre-wedding pampering).

Many people come to Catalina for a day trip, and that’s certainly do-able, but if you stay at the delightfully charming Pavilion Hotel (513 Crescent Ave., 310/510-1788,, you may never want to leave! Renovated in 2010, this cozy hotel is a mere 14 steps from the beach. If you don’t want the sand in your toes, Pavilion Hotel has a spacious garden courtyard area, complete with fire pits, where you can enjoy the ocean view along with complimentary wine and cheese pairings, as well as an excellent continental breakfast.

—Leslie Dinaberg

For more info on this destination, or to request a free visitor’s guide, visit

Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

PizzaRev Revs up in Paseo Nuevo

PizzaRev Santa Barbara, courtesy photo

PizzaRev Santa Barbara, courtesy photo

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be anything new under the sun in the world of pizza, Santa Barbara has an addition to the local menu with a truly inspired idea: at the new(ish) PizzaRev in Paseo Nuevo, each pizza, no matter how many ingredients are selected, costs $8.25.

That’s right, no more agonizing over pepperoni vs. pepperoncini, or sweet fennel sausage vs. sun-dried tomatoes. Have them all, the only extras you’re charged for gluten-free dough or vegan cheese.

Not only that, we’ve been a few times and PizzaRev is quick and tasty. Perfect for a before or after movie bite, PizzaRev features a distinctive “Craft Your Own” pizza assembly process and Roman-style thin and crispy pizza.

PizzaRev Santa Barbara, courtesy photo

PizzaRev Santa Barbara, courtesy photo

Start by selecting your crust selection (original or gluten-free), then choose from four signature sauces, including a savory organic red sauce, a creamy white alfredo, plain olive oil and a spicy-sweet BBQ. Then, each personally-sized pizza is topped with favorite selections from an array of all-natural cheeses and 30+ fresh artisanal ingredients, ranging from traditional favorites to more unusual selections—they even have vegan sausage! Plus, they only take three minutes to flame fire each pizza. Pretty impressive.

Salads are also available, and don’t forget to try the Dessert Pizza, a decadent treat made with Oreo crust!

Interesting factoid: PizzaRev founders and longtime entertainment industry executives Irv Zuckerman and Rodney Eckerman were co-CEOs of Clear Channel Entertainment, and booked the likes of U2, RollingStones and The Who in their heyday. Rodney’s son, Nicholas, pitched the idea of “build your own” pizza after recognizing the void in the fast casual industry. His culinary and customer service background with Ritz hotels helped fuel the PizzaRev product. It was Irv and Rodney’s business sense that brought the concept to life—they opened the first three locations in the LA area in less than seven months.

PizzaRev is located in Paseo Nuevo at 12 W. De La Guerra St. (right next to the movie theater). For more information, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on June 17, 2015.

The Art of Getting People Back to Nature | Yarnbomber Stephen Duneier

Stephen Duneier with one of a series of yarn-covered boulders he created at Lizard's Mouth. Photo by Scott London,

Stephen Duneier with one of a series of yarn-covered boulders he created at Lizard’s Mouth. Photo by Scott London,

By Leslie Dinaberg

Artists often use their work to provoke discussion or emotion, but Yarnbomber Stephen Duneier’s colorful creations are site-specific installations designed to get people out to the middle of nowhere.

In this case, “the middle of nowhere” is Santa Barbara County’s plethora of hiking trails. Duneier’s seven projects to date include creating an Alien Campsite on Davy Brown Trail; a series of covered boulders at Lizard’s Mouth; a reflective starfish above the pools at Seven Falls; a spider web at Sasquatch Cave in the playgrounds of Lizard’s Mouth; an enormous boulder on Saddlerock Trail; an ongoing Guinness Book of World Records attempt to create the world’s largest crocheted granny square; and creating his first project—cloaking a 40-ft. tall eucalyptus tree on the Cold Spring Trail’s east fork with a gigantic knitted sweater—which took place in 2012, just 82 days after he picked up knitting needles for the first time ever.

All of Duneier’s projects are done in a way that doesn’t permanently disturb nature, with permission from the U.S. Forest Service. “The forest service has actually been really supportive, now that I have a track record with them, and they know that I’m not just some guy who wants to use the land for my own purposes,” he says.

The other consistent element in a Yarnbomber project is that the installations stay up for just nine days. “The first weekend is all about people just stumbling onto it, then there are five days during the week, when nobody goes hiking very much. The second weekend is all about word–of–mouth. It sort of builds…but I don’t really want crowds; I just want it to be on people’s radar. And having it for nine days, you can’t procrastinate. You’re either going to go see it and make the effort today or you’re just not going to see it,” says Duneier.

The projects, many of which are done in collaboration with artists from around the world, have opened up a world of new experiences for Duneier, whose day job is writing about and managing investments, as well as teaching Decision Analysis at UCSB’s College of Engineering.

“I’ve always been speaking on macroeconomics; talking at big conferences…but now I’ve started talking about making dreams come true; this has been a little offshoot of the yarn bombs,” he says. The audiences vary, but the idea is “how do you have these grand visions and actually make them happen?”

His next “grand vision,” launching sometime this summer, incorporates metalwork and gemstones. As to where and when it pops up, the website is the best place to stay tuned.

Says Duneier, “I’m kind of a yes guy…I really don’t know where it all will lead.”

Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

A Day Away: King of the Road

Courtesy of Bowlus Road Chief LLC

Glamping Time! Talk about traveling in style! Each luxurious Bowlus Road Chief travel trailer is built to order and made from materials like birch, aluminum and brass, with the body joined together by more than 5,000 hand-bucked rivets to form a single, incredibly tough “monocoque” shell. Courtesy of Bowlus Road Chief LLC.

Roger Miller sang about “trailers for sale or rent,” but if he were writing that old ditty today, “King of the Road” would surely include a chorus about the Bowlus Road Chief. Billed as “the world’s most advanced luxury travel trailer,” the Bowlus Road Chief was engineered by Hawley Bowlus in the 1930s (the same fellow who built the Spirit of St. Louis, flown by Charles Lindbergh), and the design inspired a host of aluminum competitors including Airstream, Streamline, Silver Streak, Avion and Spartan.

As for the king of them all—the Bowlus—only 80 of these glittering riveted-aluminum capsule-shaped trailers were produced before World War II shut down the camper business.

Courtesy Bowlus Road Chief LLC

Courtesy Bowlus Road Chief LLC

These beautiful silver machines are being manufactured once again right down the road in Ventura County by recent east coast transplants Geneva Long and her father John. The reimagined Bowlus Road Chief has the same sleek lines as the vintage models but with modern amenities like solar panel hook ups, heated floors, central heating, beds that convert from twins to a king, indoor/outdoor showers, Wi-Fi charging stations and a cook’s kitchen. Plus, at 24 ft. long and 2,000 lbs, the Bowlus can legally follow just about any automobile. Each model is custom-built to order: the 2015 Bowlus Road Chief runs about $110,000.

—Leslie Dinaberg

For more info, call 855/926-9587 or visit

 Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.