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Los Olivos Wine Cask Restaurant Changes Hands

Restaurant reclaimed and renamed by vintner Fess Parker, who owns the hotel in which the restaurant was located

Matt Kettmann
Posted: June 12, 2007

Less than two months after the sale of the popular Wine Cask restaurants and store in Santa Barbara wine country, the Los Olivos, Calif., Wine Cask restaurant has closed. As of June 1, the restaurant was taken over and renamed Restaurant Marcella by Fess Parker, the childhood movie star and Santa Barbara hotelier whose Wine Country Inn houses the restaurant and leased the space to the Wine Cask's former owners.

In early April, the entire Wine Cask operation--which included a bustling wine store, the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning restaurant, an adjacent tapas bar and the Los Olivos restaurant--was sold by longtime owner Doug Margerum to healthcare mogul-turned-restaurateur/winemaker Bernard Rosenson, who also owns the Sky Room in Long Beach, the soon-to-open Yellow Rose in Summerland and a vineyard and wine label in the Santa Ynez Valley. Both men said at the time that very little would change with the Wine Cask.

"It was really a matter of my folks wanting to be calling the shots again," said Ashley Snider, Parker's daughter and company spokesperson. Though there were grumblings in Santa Barbara that the enterprise switched hands because Parker and the new owner Rosenson could not get along, Snider dismissed the rumors. "It was just a business decision, nothing personal. My parents are very excited to be back on it."

The menu and wine list are still being developed, according to Snider, who did not want to categorize any proposed changes in this transitional phase.

Margerum, who owned the Wine Cask with his family for 27 years but only opened the Los Olivos restaurant a couple years ago, said that Rosenson had no problems letting it go to Parker, who had another restaurant in the same space from 1998 to 2003 called the Vintage Room. "It was the simplest deal ever," said Margerum, who now focuses more on making his Margerum wines.

However, Rosenson did express some remorse at being unable to hold onto that part of the acquisition. "If I were him, I would do the same thing," Rosenson said of Parker.

Even Snider, Parker's daughter, said that the loss of the Wine Cask name in Los Olivos is regrettable. "The Wine Cask was nice because it seemed like the valley was on an uptick for destination restaurants," she said. "But I think that should continue with Restaurant Marcella."

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