Longtime Solvang restaurateur Aaron Petersen, owner of CHOMP, Burgers, Fries and Shakes and brekkies by CHOMP is expanding into Santa Barbara by opening two new eateries on the Santa Barbara Harbor with several other valley families. The debut of SALTY at the Beach, which opened in September, will be followed by the opening of CHOMP on the Rocks in October.
The two new harbor-front businesses will occupy the former Endless Summer Bar Café (upstairs) and Chuck’s Waterfront Grill (downstairs) spaces, in the Waterfront Center Building — the historic Naval Reserve Armory building, which is also home to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
“The history of this building definitely won me over, with its ties to Santa Barbara’s place in naval history,” Petersen said.
Petersen, who opened his three CHOMP family Solvang businesses between 2013 and 2019, is also co-owner with his siblings of Solvang’s Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2021.
Petersen is joined in the new ventures by Solvang residents Max and Laura Hanberg, who own the Solvang Shoe Store, as well as Valley residents Ken and Ronna Sorenson, and Scott Gold, with a decades-long career in the hospitality industry, and Gold’s family, as well as Petersen’s daughter and son-in-law, both Navy lieutenants stationed in San Diego.
The upper-deck SALTY at the Beach, with a wall of waterfront windows all opening to the shoreline air, will host approximately 100 guests on two outdoor patios, complete with seven flat-screen TVs both outdoors and “in.” CHOMP on the Rocks will have alfresco seating for another 50 guests on its lower-level, harbor-front patio. All COVID-19 safety and sanitation measures will be in place upon opening, and indoor dining will resume once allowed as per Santa Barbara County guidelines.
Menu items at SALTY at the Beach will range from snacks to big plates, featuring fun takes on time-tested dishes such as a deviled egg trio; popcorn rock shrimp with house-made rémoulade; warm pretzel bites with sea salt, smoked gouda and cheddar sauce, and a spicy honey mustard; “Birria-style” chicken nachos; the restaurant’s rendition of a French dip sandwich; and a rock shrimp po’ boy.
Downstairs at CHOMP on the Rocks, family-friendly, traditional crowd-pleasers like dressed up burgers and Nathan’s® Famous hot dogs will join simple menu sections such as “Old School” sandwiches (patty and tuna melts, a corned beef Reuben, hot pastrami) and “Fish” (fish tacos, crab cake salad, a Pacific lobster wrap with avocado and chipotle sauce, nestled in a tortilla), with shareable sides along the lines of onion rings and chili cheese fries. Salads, soups and specials will also appear on the menu, with special items like pulled pork nachos and a Central Coast requisite, tri-tip sandwich. Savory dishes will be accompanied by CHOMP’s signature “ice creamery” sweets – handmade shakes, malts, floats, sundaes, and an old fashioned banana split – all served in a retro-inspired, modern take on a diner with clean lines, black and white tiles, red leather booths and stool-tops, with additional seating at the shiny aluminum counter.