The former co-owner of Screaming Eagle, Charles Banks, is increasing wine tourism in California's Santa Barbara County with the opening of a new restaurant and boutique hotel in the Central Coast town of Los Olivos.
Mattei’s Tavern, credit: Kara Block Photography
Banks, who has been investing in the region since 2000 says: ‘I am a big believer long term of the Santa Barbara wine country.
‘The wines have been on a steady rise from obscurity to being one of the most interesting and diverse wine regions in the world.’
Banks says he purchased the 150-seat restaurant and four surrounding cottages known as Mattei’s Tavern, which was originally built as a stage coach stop in 1886, ‘in order to provide hospitality on the same level we see in Napa and other great wine regions.’
The cottages will be renovated and Bank aims to break ground for an additional 64-room hotel in 2014.
In a town with few hospitality options Banks says the restaurant will be ‘the centrepiece of the Valley community.’
Joining Banks as partner in the venture is head chef Robbie Wilson, whose vision was pivotal in creating Mattei’s Tavern. Wilson says he plans to ‘preserve the integrity of the history of the place’ and has sought inspiration from local products — tuna, halibut and prawns from the Pacific, beef from surrounding ranches — while bringing a ‘more refined, more technical’ touch to the traditional cuisine.
The wine list will include Sandhi wines, which Banks co-founded in 2010 with sommelier Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Mooran, but also other local wines alongside the best of Burgundy, Cote Rotie and Cornas. ‘We have been building the wine list and cellar for several years and expect to have a world class wine programme shortly,’ says Banks.
Mattei’s Tavern aims to open in late July.
Written by Courtney Humiston