Have we lost the Buellton, California "Pea Soup Andersen's" restaurant for good?

Iconic 101 roadside restaurant "Pea Soup Andersen's" has shuttered. There are only rumors of its future.

Pea Soup Andersen's closing is a shot to the heart. I've stopped to eat here on countless road trips, motorcycle trips, camping trips, or just drives between my family in Northern California and my family in Southern California. The "traveler's special" was all I've ever ordered there, but my daughter refuses pea soup to this day and would have a patty melt.

There are a lot of memories attached to this place for me, and I am sure many, many others. I hope they figure it out. Pea Soup Andersen's is part of what makes the 101 a more excellent, if longer, drive than the 5. The several miles of pretty coastline get a lot of credit but don't underestimate a friendly stop with reliably good comfort food.

Pea Soup Andersen's, the staple Central Coast destination in Buellton, California — just off Highway 101 en route to the Danish holiday town Solvang — has gone dark, and rumors are swirling that the property itself may be redeveloped for housing. The property was previously listed for sale for just under $5 million in 2021, but no buyer was publicly announced.

The restaurant has a robust history on the Central Coast, claiming at its height to serve 2 million cups of soup to locals and travelers every year. Originally opened by Denmark-born Anton Andersen in 1924 as a highway restaurant serving everyday cafe fare, the signature pea soup quickly became a signature dish and, in short order, the name and calling card for the place.

Even those who have never stopped in for a bowl will know Pea Soup Andersen's for its famously kitschy billboards. The retro advertisements set along the 101 depict a pair of cartoon chefs counting down the miles between the sign and the restaurant, along with the slogan "home of split pea soup." A wooden cutout of the two billboard chefs made for a great photo op too, with customers sticking their own faces in cutout holes and smiling for the camera.


Housing is generally a good idea, but Buellton isn't exactly bustling, and the Pea Soup Andersen's location is pretty much on the not-very-peaceful intersection of two highways. It is excellent for travelers to find a motel and restaurant, but kind of sad for people to live there full-time. This is one of the few loud traffic spots with many gas stations and fast food spots packed densely for 30 miles. There is a lot of land that could make for very nice housing.

The Santa Nella restaurant remains open. The Carlsbad installation apparently closed years ago.