Everyone’s parents’ favorite roadside destination Pea Soup Andersen’s quietly closed its flagship Central Coast location just short of its 100th anniversary, SFGATE reports. Located in Buellton, California, alongside Highway 101, Pea Soup Andersen’s legend as a roadside pit stop has only solidified in the time since its 1924 founding, built on its namesake split pea soup. The restaurant further cemented its iconic roadside status with a spinoff second location along Interstate 5 in Santa Nella, with both locations becoming staple fixtures along the San Francisco-Los Angeles driving corridors — in part thanks to the restaurant’s charming billboards featuring two cartoon chefs and the slogan “home of split pea soup.”
But don’t get the two locations confused: The Interstate 5 location of Pea Soup Andersen’s in Santa Nella remains open and ready to serve weary travelers.
The closure of the Buellton location seemed all but locked in, as the owners put the restaurant and the attached three-acre property up for sale in 2020 with an asking price of $4.7 million. The adjacent Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn was not included in the listing, and inn owner Linda Johnson told the Lompoc Record at the time that she was hopeful that new owners would “bring the restaurant back to its glory and we can continue with that tradition.”
In the time since the listing first went up, the owner vetted several potential buyers but held out for someone who would preserve the history of the location, the Lompoc Record reports. A sale is currently in escrow on the property, but it seems the condition of the property made it difficult to save, so the plan now is to tear down the building and redevelop it. While there are plans in place to include a restaurant, a representative for the owners told the news outlet that “whether it will be a Pea Soup Andersen’s is yet to be determined.”
Pea Soup Andersen’s was opened by Danish immigrant Anton Andersen in Buellton back in 1924, at first under the name Andersen’s Electric Cafe, named so due to its then-new electric stove. The split pea soup eventually became more notable than any technological advances in the restaurant, earning a reputation as a customer favorite and spurring the owners to change the restaurant name to Pea Soup Andersen’s in 1947. Now, the restaurant claims to serve over 2 million bowls of pea soup a year.
And in case any longtime California travelers are wondering, the cartoon cooks do have names: Hap-pea and Pea-wee.