By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

Hidden away in the eastern end of Santa Ynez is a delightful eatery, The Lucky Hen Larder. It serves artisan sandwiches that can be paired with a salad and offers patrons a large variety of fancy cheeses and deli meats along with a variety of unique house-made items.

Cynthia Miranda and Alicia Valencia are co-owners of the business, which was established in February 2016. It is located in the Santa Ynez Mercantile Building at Sagunto Street and Meadowvale Road.

Miranda has been in the restaurant business her whole life. Her family owned a restaurant and she subsequently earned a degree in hotel management from Northern Arizona University with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. She has been in the business for 25 years and has owned several restaurants, including at one time the Succulent Café in Solvang. 

“I lived in Santa Barbara but I was ready for a move,” said Miranda. “A previous colleague was opening a restaurant in the valley so I took the opportunity to move up to the Santa Ynez Valley in 2010.”

Alicia Valencia (left) and Cynthia Miranda are the owners of The Lucky Hen Larder in Santa Ynez.

“Alicia was introduced to me by a local rancher. She was looking for work at the Succulent Café and I said, ‘Come on in and we’ll find a spot for you’, and she blossomed,” said Miranda. “Alicia was fairly raw when she first started working at the café but she has such an amazing palate and a passion for creating unique and delicious food.”

“I had been thinking about opening a sandwich shop in Santa Ynez when I heard that the Santa Ynez Cheese Company was up for sale and the spot it was in was available, I snapped it up,” Miranda said. “It took only two weeks to finalize everything.”

The owners make their own focaccia bread for their sandwiches and make all the pastries. They offer fresh baguettes daily from Baker’s Table. They serve Good Seed coffee, from a local company that roasts their own coffee beans locally. Valencia also does the canning and bottling of house-made mustard, pickles, jams and chili-peach compote.

“She does it as a labor of love and we can’t keep them on the shelves,” said Miranda.

“We are excited to say that we have just completed an expansion of the eatery, which will add more indoor dining. We have a new expresso machine, and the larger space will allow us to offer more home-made pastries as well as the addition to the menu of grilled cheese sandwiches and home-made soups,” said Miranda. “We also plan on offering wine and beer in the near future and will be extending our hours.”

“Everyone is excited to have us as part of the community,” she said. “They have been helping out with the expansion. It was previously a barber shop which was owned by Janis Bitney, who recently retired.”

The Lucky Hen Larder also does catering and lunch delivery for groups.

“One of our specialties is creating cheese and charcuterie displays. We carry 100 different cheeses in our display case in the store, which we go through fairly quickly,” she explained. “The charcuterie is gaining support from locals and visitors alike. We also serve a number of wineries that purchase our charcuterie and we customize for each of them, catering to their needs.”

“We use the finest quality non-GMO products in our kitchen, which we source weekly from the Farmer’s Market. We also work in direct contact with local farmers. I’ve always believed that you start with a great product and end with a great product,” said Miranda.

Staff members are Nick Collins and Alicia Valencia who work in the kitchen; Holly Griswald, Scott Flores and Ana Ruiz working in the front with customer service; and Stef Keenan assisting in the office with Miranda and filling in where needed. They also have a shop dog named Jackson, an American bulldog, “who is loved by all.”

 “We are so happy to have Cynthia doing business in our building because she is adding her own creative touch to the area. She is a very high-energy person and her little team puts it out there with quality,” said Brian Asselstine, the building’s owner.

 “I have been in this business my whole life,” Miranda said. “To me this iteration has been the most fluid. It has come together so serendipitously, it seems like the culmination of everything that I have done up to this point. It came together organically. So many people have come in to help, and it feels like a true expression of myself.”

The Lucky Hen Larder at 1095 Meadowvale Road is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For more information, call 805-691-9448 or visit