Around 1915 the Hollister Estate Company built a new store at Gaviota. The operation of the store was leased out to Frank Newland and it was like a headquarters for the Hollister Ranch. It was the main supply drop off for the ranch and many other nearby residents. Since it had the only telephone around, it was a very important place.
Otto and Walter Buhn took over the store in the 1920s, and they ran it until 1944 when Newton Moffat took the lease over. He ran it until the late 1940’s, and was followed by a couple more merchants. Given that it was the only commercial venture for miles around, it became a little bit of everything for everybody.
It was a grocery store, clothing store, gas station, dance hall, telephone exchange, post office, an auto court for weary travelers, and a dance hall on Saturday nights. Additionally, they had a restaurant that offered a commanding view of the Santa Barbara Channel. A one stop shop not only for travelers, but for the cowboys, ranchers and railroad employees that lived in the vicinity.
It may have had the most expensive gas around, but it also had a warm and friendly atmosphere where everyone was welcome and you could get good down-home cooking served by friendly local ladies. An old screen door banged out an announcement whenever a patron passed through, and the squeaky old wooden floor escorted them throughout. The gas station was a classic grease pit with a couple mangy looking dogs lying around and some equally mangy mechanics relaxing in the shade. Like something you might see on route 66 in Oklahoma.
Read the full history (with photos): Gaviota Village - GoletaHistory.com