Market History

Santa Cruz Markets have been locally owned since 1980. Before that, in the 1970s, Santa Cruz Markets was a chain of seven stores throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The name comes from the first store in the chain that was on the corner of Santa Cruz Street and Main Street in Ventura. The Santa Barbara stores were on North Milpas Street, Cliff Drive on the Mesa, and Hollister Avenue in Goleta. In 1980, the chain was broken up and the only two left today are in the Santa Barbara area. In 1990, the Mesa store lost its lease, and was forced to move to its present location, 324 West Montecito Street, formally the location of Aiellos Market. Find a more detailed history here:

Goleta Store Origin

The Santa Cruz Market on Hollister Ave. was originally an airplane hanger! It was used at the first Santa Barbara airport, located off Las Positas, where the Municipal golf course is today.

Move to Goleta

In 1938, it was moved to its present location in Goleta by Robert Giffin to become a Caterpillar tractor showroom. 

101 Ranch Market

Mid 1950s
In the mid 1950s, it was transformed into a grocery store called the 101 Ranch Market. For years it was the only grocery store in town. In the 1970s it became a Santa Cruz Market. We still still display our S&H Green Stamps sign at the Goleta store as a tribute to the past...and because it looks cool!
Above is a shot from the Santa Barbara High yearbook in 1960.

Neighborhood Market

Above is a photo David Lange sent us of him getting an autograph from L.A. Dodger Ron Perranoski in front of the Goleta store, 1963.

Mesa Location

The store on the Mesa had amazing ocean and sunset views while you waited in line! Today it's called Lazy Acres.

Santa Barbara Move

In 1990, Santa Cruz lost their lease on the Mesa and had to move into the former Aielo's Market down on Montecito Street.
Ralph Modugno
Ralph Modugno and his wife Helen

Our Founder

While Santa Cruz Markets have been around since the 1960's, Ralph Modugno bought two of the Santa Barbara locations in 1979 and made them what they are today. Ralph worked in the Montecito Street store until he was 87 years old, and passed away one year later, in 2011.
Ralph Vito Modugno January 30, 1923 - May 27, 2011 Ralph Modugno passed away peacefully on Friday, May 27 in Santa Barbara. Born in San Fernando, California, the first son of Italian immigrants, Ralph went to work at an early age, helping his father pick grapes and olives in the fields of the San Fernando Valley. He learned to speak English in kindergarten and began working in a local grocery store as a teenager. He attended San Fernando High School where he played football and threw the shot put while continuing to work in the grocery business. He served our country in World War II as a medical technician, spending three years in England. After the war, Ralph returned to San Fernando and the grocery store, moving quickly up the ranks to the position of manager. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he met his wife, Helen, in the same store, and they were married in 1948. Ralph eventually bought his own market and began raising a family in San Fernando. In 1963, the family relocated to Goleta. Ralph continued his career in the grocery business, managing or owning several markets in the Santa Barbara area. In 1979, he purchased the Goleta and Santa Barbara stores of the Santa Cruz Market chain, where he continued working until finally retiring in 2010 at the age of 87. All told, he worked more than 70 years in the grocery business, enjoying not only the work, but also the many friendships he made in the business and throughout the community. It truly was his passion. When he was not working in his stores, he enjoyed working in the yard around his Goleta home. He was very active at St. Raphael Catholic Church and was a member of the Knights of Columbus for over 50 years. A loving and playful father and grandfather, nothing made him happier than spending time with his family. Visitors to his home often faced his persistent insistence that they stay for dinner. He will be missed.