The Isla Vista Food Co-op hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week to celebrate the completion of a three-month-long exterior renovation project.

The makeover comprised construction of a wooden patio area with a wooden awning, two new entrance signs, a garden and the installation of an automatic sliding door. The Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency and several members of the co-op provided loans to the store to help fund the remodeling.

[media-credit id=20164 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]According to Front End manager Mo Rea, the store’s facelift has brought in new customers and bolstered business.

“When we first finished the patio we had a lot of rubber-neckers, people skating by and stopping what they were doing to check it out,” Rea said. “Because of the Redevelopment Agency we were able to get a loan so we can compete with places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.”

The Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency’s Façade Improvement Program assists local businesses by loaning funds equal to the amount raised by the applicant. Chino’s Rock & Tacos and Caje have also received loans from the agency’s program.

The new additions to the store will also allow the co-op to expand their services and host more events.

Rea said she is looking into new ways to involve the local community in both fun and educational events.

“I am really looking forward to having new things on our patio space,” Rea said. “We are working on some permits to have food services outside like potlucks, wine and cheese tasting and cooking classes. We need to figure out what the patios maximum occupancy is first though.”

Since its completion, people have filled the new patio to enjoy their food in the store’s revamped atmosphere.

One co-op patron, an Isla Vista resident who referred to himself as “Big Boss,” said he enjoys the changes made during the three months of construction.

“It is super sick, I like to come here and get lunch a lot,” Big Boss said. “It [the new eating area] allows me to enjoy the Santa Barbara to a whole ‘nother degree.”