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Zarate's Restaurant Group Continues to Crumble With Blue Tavern Closure in Santa Barbara

Another of Zarate's restaurants confirms its shutter by the end of the year.

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Might as well go for the Ricardo Zarate three-peat. After word spread through the restaurant world today that Paiche was closing up shop in Marina Del Rey, followed by news of Zarate's flagship Mo-Chica also calling it quits, it's still a bit of a shocker to learn that his Santa Barbara eatery Blue Tavern is also wrapping up by the end of the year.

Official word has finally started leaking out from the restaurant itself as of last night, with staffers learning of the change a couple of weeks ago. Service will run through the end of December at the barely year-old restaurant, before the lights go out permanently. Apparently the whole Blue Tavern operation has been sold off — no surprise, really, given Zarate's ongoing troubles and split with Stephane Bombet — to new investors, who plan to shutter the space and reemerge with an entirely new, unnamed concept.

Blue Tavern's fall marks an incredibly steep descent for Zarate, who was Food & Wine's 2011 Best New Chef but has been rumored to be more interested in building his personal brand of late, rather than helming the stoves at one of his area restaurants. Zarate's last stand may well come at Picca, though it seems unlikely to last given the shaky nature of everything else in the once high-flying Zarate Restaurants group.

Blue Tavern
119 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101