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Iconic Buellton eatery Pea Soup Andersen's listed for $4.7M

From the 50+ Santa Maria, Buellton and Lompoc business stories series
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Iconic Buellton eatery Pea Soup Andersen's listed for $4.7M

Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant, a longtime Santa Ynez Valley landmark known for serving its famous split-pea soup, has been listed for $4.7 million by Radius Commercial Real Estate of Santa Barbara.

The Buellton-based property, comprised of two parcels totaling approximately 3.36 acres on the corner of Hwy. 246 and Avenue of Flags, was listed on Aug. 12, 2020, according to public record.

The 35,000-square-foot building which features a historical diner, gift shops and various banquet rooms is being marketed as "a prime redevelopment opportunity given its proximity to the 101 Freeway, CA 246, and its location in the heart of Buellton’s 'Avenue of Flags Specific Plan.'" The plan is a fundamental strategy drawn up by the City of Buellton in 2017 to revitalize downtown and transform the Avenue of Flags corridor from an aging automobile-oriented thoroughfare to a vibrant, pedestrian friendly main street.

Milt Guggia Jr., whose father purchased both Pea Soup Andersen's Buellton in 1999 and Pea Soup Andersen's Santa Nella in 2007, was not available for comment. Milt Guggia Enterprises also owns other local eateries like AJ Spurs in Buellton.

Pea Soup Andersen's was the brainchild of Anton Andersen from Denmark, and his wife, Juliette, a French woman. In 1924, they established a restaurant renowned for its split-pea soup — a secret recipe of Juliette’s — and named it Andersen’s Electric Café because it had one of the first electric stoves in the area.

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The iconic sign for Pea Soup Andersen's in Buellton.

Buellton City Council member John Sanchez, who confirmed the restaurant's listing, remarked that since 1924, the property has entertained a hodgepodge of businesses over the years.

Though nostalgic, Sanchez said he sees real potential for its future.

He recalled that the restaurant at one time housed a popular bar that attracted locals, a memorable place where he ceremoniously celebrated his 50th birthday with friends and family.

"It's nice as it is, if someone wants to do something more traditional with it," Sanchez said. "But it would be nice to see somebody buy it and build something nice, too."

Should the property sell, Sanchez said the Buellton Historical Society, which uses a designated area in the upstairs portion of the restaurant as its headquarters, could possibly relocate to the old Willemsen Dairy property purchased by the City last year for $2 million.

"But that is yet to be determined," Sanchez said. "Nearby residents [of the Willemsen Dairy property] are concerned about traffic and noise."

Adjacent to Pea Soup Andersen's restaurant is Pea Soup Andersen's Inn, a completely separate lodging property, partially owned and operated by Linda Johansen, a longtime Solvang resident and travel consultant with Collette Tours.

Johansen said the sale of Pea Soup Andersen's restaurant would not affect her business aside from the obvious absence of a historical landmark.

"Pea Soup Andersen's — the restaurant — really has a word-renowned following. It's really remarkable the international following it has had," she said.

Johansen noted that her property and the restaurant have had a mutually beneficial relationship through the years as Pea Soup's would provide discount meal coupons to distribute to her hotel guests.

"Hopefully the new owners can bring the restaurant back to its glory and we can continue with that tradition," Johansen said. "And if they restore the building we could use the public rooms again for groups as they do have some great space there as well."

Pea Soup Andersen family

Anton, Robert T. and Juliette Andersen stand in front of what began as Andersen’s Electrical Cafe.

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Pea Soup Andersons restaurant was originally named Andersen’s Electric Café because it had one of the first electric stoves in the area.

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