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Noozhawk: Scarlett Begonia Restaurant Putting Down New Roots Near Santa Barbara Public Market

March 06, 2020

Owner Crista Fleming says the eatery now 'can really blossom' with its larger space on West Victoria Street

Santa Barbara, California – Published 3/6/2020
By Joshua Molina
Scarlett Begonia Santa Barbara
The Scarlett Begonia restaurant soon will move from Victoria Court to a larger space at 21 W. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The popular Scarlett Begonia restaurant plans to blossom into a new location in Santa Barbara.

Currently tucked into Victoria Court, Scarlett Begonia is moving into a larger space at 21 W. Victoria St., the former site of the Locavore and the Nugget.

Owner Crista Fleming said the restaurant has outgrown its current quaint space, where lines for a table typically stretch out for 45 minutes or longer. She hopes to relocate by April 1.

“We’ve been so grateful to have grown such a faithful following, but now we can really blossom,” Fleming said. “I really, really hate seeing people waiting, so it’s exciting to have the space to spread out and trim those wait times and bring in new people who didn’t know we were there.”

Fleming opened Scartlett Begonia in 2011. She graduated from UCSB with a degree in English and got a job out of college at a catering company. She fell in love with cooking and enrolled in the culinary department at Santa Barbara City College. She worked several jobs, including as the editor at Food & Home magazine, and as a line cook at Longboard’s, the Four Seasons and San Ysidro Ranch. She knew, however, that she had bigger plans.

“I quit with this idea that I was going to open a restaurant,” Fleming said.

She had $40,000 in savings, but she said she realized that it wasn’t enough to start a restaurant. An inheritance from her grandmother a few years later allowed her to open her restaurant.

She has enjoyed success in Victoria Court since 2011, and the restaurant has helped bring some prestige to the center. It has gotten so popular, in fact, that it’s time to move, Fleming said.

“The kitchen isn’t supposed to do what I make it do,” she said. “I have a really awesome team.”

She said she drove by the new spot every day for years without thinking that it was an option — and then it hit her.

“When I looked at it, I realized I had no choice but to do it.,” she said.

The restaurant focuses on breakfast, lunch and happy hour, and it’s open seven days a week.

Although it doesn’t serve dinner, Fleming said that “we want to be the happy-hour option” for the Theater District.

“I am looking forward to showing it off to Santa Barbara,” Fleming said.

The new restaurant is also across the street from the Santa Barbara Public Market.

“You have great walkability, great parking, excellent visibility, and now this local brand that people know and love,” said Gene Deering of Radius Commercial Real Estate who brokered the lease. “With Crista, we were super excited because we knew we were talking about keeping her in the neighborhood, and apart from always looking for ways to bring new life downtown, it’s especially rewarding to work with local shopkeepers and tenants to help them grow.”

The new restaurant also will feature ample begonias as part of the decor.

“We know our patrons really loved our courtyard patio, but the begonias never really took root in the shade,” Fleming said. “They will here. Here’s looking forward to Scarlett Begonia truly taking root in its new location.”

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