The high tide in Santa Barbara on Saturday did not show mercy to the diners at several restaurants that were located perilously close to the shore. The surf was up and the waves broke in hard hits onto the sand. As the surf rose higher, the unusually high waves pummeled the side of the restaurant. They began crashing against the base of the building, sending sand and white water flying everywhere. For those dining establishments perched at water’s edge, the high tide continued to play havoc with the alarmed beach diners. One huge wave, higher than the windows, crashed through the glass, breaking several panes, at the Moby Dick Restaurant at Stearns Wharf. Glass flew in all directions, sending people screaming with fright and out the door to safety. Lunch or breakfast was left behind, swallowed up by the sea, along with the napkins and the salt and pepper shakers. The unusual storm surge left water and sand covering the floor inside the restaurant.
At the Beachside Restaurant in Goleta, another Bar & Cafe at the base of the Goleta Pier just off Sandspit Road, the waves were hitting one after another. Several employees attempted to save the outdoor furniture and cover up the patio, but to no avail. When another huge wave threatened to break into them, the manager, whose name is Simon, told everyone to get out. It was too dangerous to stay inside. A that point, another monster waved crashed on the patio. The manager was swept off his feet and into the water as the wave receded, pulling him out into the ocean. He managed to grab a hold of the pier so as not to get dragged out too far, but the wave carried him at least one hundred feet from the shore.
His fellow employees were being flung around the patio, unable to stay on their feet. The diners were long gone as soon as water began covering the floor. It was safer to watch from the park next to the restaurant. The high tide had wreaked enough havoc with those beach diners.
At this point, no one knew what had happened to the manager who had just been there with them. When they realized he had been pulled out into the water and was holding on tight to the pier, some of the men rushed out and helped him back to shore. The surf was still high, but they remained under the pier for a modicum of protection as they helped their manager back to safety. The experience caused him to dislocate his shoulder. He was taken to the hospital and treated. He is back at home with his family, doing fine, and recovering from the scare.
It was a horrific experience for those caught in the middle of it, and, fortunately, no one else was seriously injured. The other employees, unable to flee the patio fast enough when the waves were crashing all around them, ended up with a few bumps and bruises. But most of them planned to be back on Sunday to help clean up the terrible mess.
Several windows were broken by the waves, and the floor was damaged. It may take a few days for the Beachside Restaurant, as well as all the other restaurants located at water’s edge, to recover from the onslaught. It might be a good idea, if you plan to eat at the beach, to check out the tide schedule before you do!
Dining at these shore-side restaurants is normally a relaxing, enjoyable experience. Watching the waves roll in can be soothing, but on this day, the high tide had fun playing havoc with the beach diners. It probably will not happen again anytime soon … but it may happen again.
By Christine Schlichte