Skip to main content
Food & Drink

Iconic road trip restaurant on California’s U.S. 101 shutters abruptly after 99 years

a restaurant parking lot by night, with a windmill
Pea Soup Andersen’s, a landmark roadside attraction, has closed its Buellton location. The Santa Nella location, seen here, will remain open. | Source: Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Road trippers leaving San Francisco for Southern California know that there are two places to stop for excellent split pea soup and even better fried chicken: the Pea Soup Andersen’s on U.S. 101 near Solvang, and the other Pea Soup Andersen’s on Interstate 5 in Santa Nella.

A year shy of its centennial, the 101 location—in the Central Coast town of Buellton, technically—has closed, as SFGate first reported. An icon of kitschy Danish culture recognizable by its windmill, it is slated to be demolished and rebuilt.

The Santa Nella location will remain open, as manager Armando Hurtado confirmed with The Standard.

“They’re going to redevelop it and make a new restaurant,” he said. “It’s going to take about a year. We’re not going anywhere.”

A landmark of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley, Pea Soup Andersen’s opened in 1924 when a Danish immigrant and chef, Anton Andersen, and his French wife, Juliette, settled in the area, serving huge portions of comfort food to weary travelers. It was originally called Andersen’s Electric Cafe, a charming reference to that still-new amenity, the electric stove.

The Andersen family sold the business in the 1960s, and the new owners opened a much larger location in Santa Nella in 1976. The main business in what remains a small, unincorporated community servicing the interstate, it’s a well-known stop much-loved by anyone driving down to Los Angeles who doesn’t feel like stopping at the In-N-Out in Kettleman City again.

Astrid Kane can be reached at