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Wednesday evening, on our way home from Santa Barbara, we decided to stop and eat dinner at one of our favorite spots. Pea Soup Andersen's in the town of Buellton, is a place we have made a "must stop and eat" destination on almost every family vacation over the years. I ate there with my grandparents a few times when I was a kid and Bruce and I stopped there for breakfast on our honeymoon trip in 1969.
Pea Soup's has a history beginning on June 13, 1924. Anton Andersen, born in Denmark, purchased this land and he and his wife, Juliette, opened their small cafe. Anton had been trained in exclusive restaurants in Europe and then in New York after coming to America. Highway 101, which runs near this town of Buellton, was the road taken to the fabulous Hearst Castle by all the Hollywood elite. It became a natural stopping place for a delicious meal.
Things were going well with the cafe, so the Andersen's opened a hotel and formal dining room in addition. This way they could serve the complete needs of the traveler....good food and a clean hotel room for the night. The excellent reputation of this restaurant grew and the Andersen's discovered that people from Southern California were planning their outings and trips to enable them to make this stop.
During WWII, the restaurant was closed to the public. The hotel rooms were used to house military personnel stationed locally. After the war was over, the restaurant reopened. Anton's son, Robert, got permission to use two characters he saw in an issue of "Judge" magazine for their family business. He had an artist redraw the characters to use for advertising and promotion and they became Pea Soup Andersen's trademark. They are Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee. You can see their likeness in many places, including highway billboards.
We got to Andersen's early and we ate in the cafe. We ordered our usual which is the Traveler's Special. This includes all-you-can-eat Pea Soup, bread basket, and a beverage. The beverage choices are: hot tea, iced tea, coffee, soft drink or a milk shake. Cost for Traveler's Special is $8.95. If you eat all of the soup in your bowl, you can see the images of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee looking at you.
Even though the Andersen family no longer owns this business, it remains much the same as it was in the beginning. There is the small cafe, a formal dining room, bakery with lucious desserts and breads, packaged food items for sale, gift shop, Christmas shop, and the hotel.
The bakery cases offered some fabulous choices. Ah, I just had to walk past, but I did give them a longing look as we paid the bill and left.
After eating our 2 bowls of soup....oh, I ate too much....we went outdoors to one of my favorite things. It is a signboard where you can stick your head in the place of Hap-Pea or Pea-Wee and have your picture taken. I tried to get Bruce to do it for the blog, but he wouldn't cooperate. I always had our kids stick their heads through there when we stopped to eat. I remember the last time we were here and I asked them. Our son said, "Awwww Mom. That is so lame." But he did it anyway. What a guy!
I recommend this restaurant very highly. You don't have to order the Pea Soup to get a good meal. They also offer a lot of sandwiches and main entrees. There is a second Andersen's located off I-5 in the town of Santa Nella, California. We find reasons to stop there, too, but it isn't the same as this original favorite.
Until next time.....so long for now!