Renew the Lease for Little Alex’s
Dear Mr. Rosenfield,
I’m writing to ask you to please reconsider renewing the lease for Little Alex’s.
Your website says the “Montecito Country Mart is a place for the entire family and the best way to experience Montecito — as a local would.” So please let’s keep a very local and beloved place open for the locals and the “entire family.”
As a 38-year resident of Montecito, I have loved and frequented Little Alex’s often. Its low-key vibe and delicious food is my go-to weekend breakfast spot, and their chicken soup has cured many a cold over the years.
I am deeply saddened to hear that you don’t feel they are a “fit” for the Mart. Montecito is not only an upscale destination for L.A. tourists (and beyond), it is also a home to a community that values mom-and-pop businesses, and tasty authentic food. Losing Read N’ Post was a big loss. They really provided something needed whereas I’m not even sure what the new Montecito Mercantile that replaced it offers.
I do hope you’ll be hearing from so many of us who share this view, and that you’ll reconsider. What makes a community charming is diversity. I love Lucky’s, Tre Lune, etc. and I love Little Alex’s.
Who am I? The daughter of an L.A. producer who grew up in Beverly Hills and is about as privileged as it gets — so pretty much your ideal customer — please reconsider and renew their lease.
Carlos Makes a Run for It
When the lightning storm hit, Carlos, The Bear, had been curled in his bivouac reviewing on his phone, for the umpteenth time, the video that was posted on the Montecito Journal’s website of him walking through a backyard in the hedgerow district near Montecito’s Laguna Blanca School, earlier that week. Thinking this a good time to vamoose to a better hiding place, he made a run for it. He knew it was risky, lightening and all, but after his brush with the authorities as he had fled the school area, he knew this was the right thing to do. After all, who is going to be watching for a bear with a storm like that going on!
Carlos had only been following his instincts by plying the creeks in search of food and maybe an affordable den when he had gotten tired and decided to take nap. Awakening after dawn, and near a school, no less. He knew he was in a bad spot. What’s a bear to do?
Now, safely domiciled in a temporary den above Mountain Drive, he was reading the Montecito Association’s newsletter. Cava had closed and Little Alex’s was set to close come November. This saddened him because he knew how human cubs loved Alex’s and their parents too; so affordable. And with Cava closing, where could an adult enjoy a happy hour drink and people watch? Carlos worried about the gentrification of his beloved little village.
So many changes, so fast, were almost unbearable.
Losing a Community Staple?
Montecitans should know that Little Alex’s, a staple of Montecito for over 30 years, has been asked to leave the Montecito Mart. Apparently a higher rent wasn’t the issue.
It doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to believe that an affordable restaurant with good food catering to a wide variety of patrons will be replaced by something more upscale, catering no doubt to the wealthier elites among us.
As many of us know, during the mud debris flow, Little Alex’s compassionately brought food to feed the incredible support people who worked so hard to save us.
Although Montecito is unquestionably among one of the more rarified places to live, everyday spots like Little Alex’s help to make us feel more grounded and a part of the greater community.
What a loss.
We recently learned that after 33 years in business, our favorite restaurant in Montecito has been told to close its doors by the owner of the Montecito Country Mart on Coast Village Road. This decision is deeply disappointing. Our extended family has been a frequent customer of Little Alex’s for decades. The restaurant is conveniently located – easy to include during errands. It has consistently provided excellent quality at a reasonable price. Over the 30 years we’ve lived in Montecito, we’ve probably eaten a Little Alex’s meal over 1,000 times.
And our reliance on the establishment we affectionately call “Little’s” has only increased during COVID, as we juggled daily support logistics for three generations living under one roof. From the very first days of the pandemic, Lynette Briner (Little’s owner) kept the doors open, shifting her focus to safe and efficient take-out service — including a well-conceived online ordering system. She continued providing quality food to her many loyal customers, and employment to her team. While others folded, she kept her business afloat and paid her rent.
Now it appears her reward for these many years of service to our community, and resilience during the pandemic, will be termination of her lease. The reason given is that her establishment doesn’t fit with the upscale image that Mart ownership is looking to create. Based on the other new businesses that have opened it the Mart of late, it seems likely that Little’s’ will be replaced by some high-priced boutique selling fancy merchandise that’s irrelevant to the daily lives of those like our family, who have purchased essentials in that shopping center for many years.
This decision by Mart ownership reflects a lack of understanding of (and care for) what our community needs and values. We respectfully request the decision be revisited, and that “Little’s” be allowed to continue providing the excellent and essential service it has for the past 33 years.
Mike and Diana Wilson
A New Safe Space
I realize how important it is to the new group in charge of Montecito Journal’s editorial content to fill virtually every issue with digs, slights, accusations, and ridicule at anyone who doesn’t toe the progressive line, but for those readers who seek an alternate voice, I would be grateful if you would be so kind as to direct them to my new newsletter: jimb.substack.com/p/purely-political (and watch out when typing jimb as spell check will change it to limb before you finish typing the entire website address!)
As former editor/publisher and founder of Montecito Journal, many readers may know that my politics differ considerably from the current ownership’s, although, in fairness, the current ownership’s beliefs and opinions are probably more reflective of the new Montecito arrivals. Still, I do believe there are readers who may enjoy and/or appreciate a different narrative.