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The Central Coast’s Legendary Pea Soup Andersen’s Future Is in Jeopardy

The Buellton restaurant is for sale for a cool $4.7 million, and it’s unclear what that might mean for the property

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The Wine Region of Santa Barbara County Photo by George Rose/Getty Images
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Buellton’s legendary Danish-themed Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant is up for sale. A Santa Barbara realty company has listed the restaurant’s building and surrounding 3.36 acre property for a whopping $4.7 million.

This historic and well-known restaurant off the 101 freeway north of Los Angeles is one of Central California’s quirkiest spots, complete with the old-school dining room as well as gift shops and banquet rooms for tourists and weekend guests. Even those who have never eaten there are familiar with the name, thanks to the many pale green billboards that dot the freeway for many miles in either direction. The restaurant’s pea soup is of course a staple, but it also serves everything from pickled herring to supreme chicken quesadillas.

For now it’s unclear how much, if any, of the business and building would remain post-sale. On its website listing, Santa Barbara company Radius Commercial Real Estate described the building as “prime for redevelopment.​” The building has stood since at least 1924, and has held a variety of businesses over the years, but with easy access to the freeway and the growing wine country region, a full demolition is well within the realm of possibility.

Pea Soup Andersen’s was founded by Anton and Juliette Andersen, and was bought in 1999 by Milt Guggia, who opened a second location in Santa Nella further north off the 5 freeway in 2007. The Buellton restaurant’s Danish style and European-leaning menu fit in well with nearby Danish-themed town Solvang, which has for decades been a popular destination for weekend getaways from LA; the property’s signature cartoon chefs Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee were even drawn by Disney-trained Angeleno Milt Neil after World War II. Over the decades, millions of visitors have stopped to take photos in their cutouts outside the restaurant.

Not included in the sale is Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn, which resides directly next door to the restaurant building. The Santa Maria Times interviewed Buellton city council member John Sanchez who stated, “It’s nice as it is, if someone wants to do something more traditional with it. But it would be nice to see somebody buy it and build something nice, too.”