It Was a Sign

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While age and experience don’t always indicate intellectual improvement, three things become apparent:

  1. The Earth’s rotation has shortened slightly, making the years go by faster.
  2. Gravity’s influence has increased, making one’s journey back upright from tying shoes more challenging.
  3. The classics only get better with age.

The Paradise Cafe is now in its fourth decade of existence with 35 years of serving oak-grilled excellence. Generations of Santa Barbarans have grown up here and the children of some of our original crew are waiting on you today. The building is over 100 years old and has a lot of stories to tell…this is one of them.

The La Paloma Cafe operated from 1938 to 1981 and entertained the likes of the Marines based in Goleta, the UCSB Gauchos of the Riviera Campus and movie star Leo Carrillo. The iconic neon signs and murals were created in 1940.

When we took over in 1981, the name change to “Paradise Cafe” was a natural for two reasons. First, “La Paloma” and “Paradise” are the same number of letters, and second, that spacing allowed us to retain the original “Cafe” part of the sign, saving a few of the rare dollars we had. The use of neon was frowned upon per the City’s sign ordinance, and so ensued a major hearing in front of Council. At the end of deliberations, Council Member Lyle Reynolds told a short but poignant story about his days at the News Press during WW11, and how the city would be subject to blackouts from time to time. Truly an intimidating time in Santa Barbara, given that Elwood had already been bombed. He said that when the blackout ended the first lights he saw were the warm neon signs of the La Paloma, which let him know that everything was going to be alright.

That story tipped the balance and the Paradise Cafe sign lets you know you’re going to be alright today. So, break free from oppressive gravity and come re-visit a local classic.