Seven months after Santa Barbara County officials halted the renovation of the structure that used to house Espresso Roma, construction on the Pardall Road building began again on Monday.
The remodeling was shut down on August 12 after the county discovered that the building’s owner did not have a permit for the construction. Santa Barbara County Building Inspector Curtis Jensen said a building permit was subsequently approved for Isla Vista Spot, which will replace Espresso Roma, on May 17. Isla Vista Spot, which is set to open over the summer, will serve traditional Persian food and feature a hookah lounge.
Jensen said the property has not changed hands since officials stopped construction on it over the summer. He said the owner of the building, which is registered to the Edwin Olsen Trust, fulfilled all of the county’s zoning and remodeling requirements before construction on the eatery started up again.
Michael M., who declined to give his last name, said he is the owner of the new eatery. He said he is currently remodeling the building, and hopes to open the new restaurant in two months.
Michael said the restaurant will serve drinks, salads and ice cream along with traditional Persian food, and he is designing the restaurant so it will not feel like other I.V. eateries. The Spot has a beer and wine license, and the owner he said he hopes it will be more like a restaurant on State Street.
“We are opening a sit-down restaurant, where you can hang out, kick back and dine in,” he said.
Jensen said Michael waited until he received the building permit before resuming the remodeling work.
“Now it looks like they’ve gone through the plan check, and they are ready for construction,” Jensen said.
Michael said he already owns two similar restaurants in Los Angeles. He said he is not worried about the lack of business during the summer, because he wants to take that time to get the restaurant up and running before most students get back from vacation.
“Our goal is to set up our system before everyone comes back,” Michael said.
Junior psychology major Heidi Nyberg said she has never eaten Persian food before, but she said she is excited about trying the new restaurant.
“It sounds interesting,” Nyberg said. “I would probably eat there.”
Nyberg said she thinks the hookah lounge at the restaurant will be a popular attraction for I.V. residents.
“I think a lot of people would like [the lounge],” Nyberg said. “I have a lot of friends who like to smoke hookah.”
Tyler Davis, a sophomore geology major, said he enjoys Persian food. He said he is open to eating at any new restaurant in I.V., because there is limited variety among the existing local eateries.
“I’ve eaten in town since summer and I am sick of places here,” Davis said. “Anything but another sushi place is good. I’m excited for something new in I.V.”