A Day at The Mill
Written by Molly McAnany
Photos by Gabrielle Penner
Tucked away on the corner of Laguna and Haley Streets, The Mill is downtown Santa Barbara’s local artisan marketplace with a vision to cultivate a strong community in the ever-evolving commercial downtown area. Designed and built from a dilapidated feed mill constructed in 1904, The Mill is now a modern plaza restored, reinvigorated, and restyled by Darrell and Kirsten Becker who work with their tenants on-site to make their small business dreams come true. Fit with a full gym, vacation rental, and multiple food and drink venues, the Beckers have cultivated a family-friendly, bachelorette party-worthy, inclusive space.
The Mill is unique in that people who visit for a bite or a drink are fully integrated into the atmosphere, the Beckers explain as we sit in the central courtyard surrounded by the bustle of both a brewery and a winery. This lively courtyard allows visitors to have a bit of everything as they stroll from one storefront to the next grabbing a coffee, a burger and a beer, a glass of wine, a cocktail…it’s the perfect place to spend a couple hours or an entire afternoon without getting bored (or hungry!). Without further ado, here’s my itinerary for a full day at The Mill.
Waking up with a fresh cup of coffee is the only thing that brings structure to my mornings and Low Pigeon Coffee has me covered. The sustainably sourced coffee roaster produces refined yet delicious coffee, their simple approach to brewing reflected in the classic coffee bar style atmosphere. After downing my iced latte and grabbing a quick bit to eat from Caje, the avocado toast with a poached egg on top to be exact, I am fully energized for a quick workout at AM|Fitness which offers tailored fitness programs for all levels, including nutrition and personal training lessons as well as spin, boxing, and yoga classes.
I spend my cool down perusing the racks of Catherine Gee, a high-end fashion boutique with ready-to-wear garments in a multitude of refined fabrics, for those whose fashion sense blends both beachy and sophisticated. Gee’s brand staple is the printed silk blouse. Catherine Gee offers personal styling, bringing an exciting, personalized element to Santa Barbara’s historically industrial Haley Street. Arguably the most iconic city for sporting elevated beach attire, Santa Barbara has become a breeding ground for small businesses and The Mill is keen on supporting more of these luxury brands as they expand their space.
Once the day comes to a close, I clean up for a night out with a group of friends. Snagging a table in the tree-shaded courtyard, the warmth from tall, glass heaters is just enough to make the crisp evening breeze enjoyable. Though a few of my friends opt for a glass of wine from Potek Winery, crafted using traditional French techniques and California-grown grapes, I grab a wagyu burger and beer from Third Brewing Co., which handles the grain milling, brewing, and bottling of a light Belgian-style beer all on-site. The local taproom is well known for their burgers which, well, are simply a must if you’re visiting The Mill.
Before checking into The Loft, the two-bedroom Airbnb at The Mill with a private rooftop patio overlooking downtown, it’s only fitting to pop into Lab Social which transforms from Caje Coffee Roasters by day into a speakeasy by night. Fit with a highly stylized cocktail menu, the incognito bar offers drinks inspired by famous historical figures amongst other creative twists on the old classics. Sitting in the red-lit room, I sip on the Churchill Sour which particularly caught my eye given my affinity for whiskey and World War II political leaders.
While The Mill truly capitalizes on their current communal space, bringing together some of the best rustic eateries Santa Barbara has to offer, the Beckers are constructing a new building with 20 to 30 apartments for long-term renters coined The Lofts at The Mill as well as four new vacation rentals for out-of-town visitors or staycationers. People want to have a bit of everything, food, drinks, fashion, and a place for social hour. The tenants at The Mill help each other by providing different parts of a cohesive experience, continuing to grow the Haley Street community, and keep in touch with Santa Barbara’s local tradition.