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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Royal Hawaiian, Laguna Beach, CA (restaurant)
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Royal Hawaiian, Laguna Beach, CA (restaurant)
kenbo-jitsu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 27, 2011
Posts: 356
From: Southern CA
Posted: 2016-06-22 10:09 am   Permalink

Article dated today (June 22, 2016) from the OC Register by Nancy Luna. Here is the link with the article's text following.

Famed tiki bar Royal Hawaiian making Laguna Beach comeback

Royal Hawaiian, the famed tiki restaurant that operated in Laguna Beach for 65 years, is making a comeback.

After closing four years ago, Royal Hawaiian is expected to return in mid-July under new owner, Mo Honarkar.

Honarkar is a wireless industry veteran turned restaurant operator. In 2015, he opened Pizza90, a fast-casual Neapolitan-style pizzeria, in Irvine. Pizza90 has another location in Riverside, and Honarkar plans to open a third later this year in Sherman Oaks, operations manager Eric Bostwick said.

Bostwick is overseeing the comeback of Royal Hawaiian, at 331 N. Coast Hwy.

Fans will see the same tiki memorabilia and themed cocktails as before, including the signature lapu lapu rum drink, Bostwick said. As for the food, expect a more modern flair. The restaurant has tapped Jonathan Pflueger to create the menu. The chef used to own Vertical wine bar in Laguna Beach, Bostwick said.

Francis Cabang of Laguna Beach opened the Royal Hawaiian in 1947. The locals-only hangout, a replica of a Polynesian hut, operated under the family until 2006. It was then bought by Doug Cole and Tom Yelenick. They made repairs and improvements while promising to keep the Polynesian style.

It closed in 2012, and Honarkar bought the property last year. He is also developing White Oak, a full-service Italian restaurant in West Hollywood. It is expected to open later this year.


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kenbo-jitsu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 27, 2011
Posts: 356
From: Southern CA
Posted: 2016-06-22 10:13 am   Permalink

There is also this new web site:

http://www.royalhawaiianlb.com

The web site has a link to another earlier Locale Magazine article (May 31, 2016) by Nicole Hakim which gives some more details. The décor will be the post 2006 renovation interior with some changes.

Royal Hawaiian Reopens in Laguna Beach

There are many things in this world that can make an impact in someone’s life. These things can be a book, a movie or even a restaurant. As people frequent a restaurant, it can easily become a “second home.” Restaurants have the ability to make a person feel elated, belonged and excited. However, sometimes the things we love can go away. There is no doubt the Royal Hawaiian has garnered an impactful relationship with many in the community. 65 years is a long time for a restaurant to be in business, and it is no surprise that customers found it tough to experience the Royal Hawaiian’s end. Don’t worry, though! Sometimes things come back—like the Royal Hawaiian—so get ready to reconnect.

Established in 1947 by Francis Cabang, the Royal Hawaiian restaurant has a long history and played a major part in the community of Laguna Beach. It was run by the Cabang family until 2006 when it changed ownership, went under a much needed renovation and stayed in business for an additional six years. Today, it is owned by Mohammad Honarkar, and he and his hospitality team—Eric Bostwick, Carlos Godinez, Hasty Honarkar, Dylan Marsh and Brian Smith—are dedicated to bringing this historic restaurant back to life with a new and improved twist.

Staying loyal to the Hawaiian atmosphere, the Royal Hawaiian will feature décor that will only be slightly updated from the previous renovations. Classic tiki vibes will be present, but will be combined with a new age feel that will not fail to make customers revel in a Hawaiian aura and make Laguna feel as though it has become a modern version of Hawaii. The Royal Hawaiian’s return will feature a menu that is filled with classic Hawaiian dishes made more unique with creative twists and many colorful handcrafted cocktails. Returning customers will also see the homecoming of the famous Royal Hawaiian Ribs and the popular cocktail dubbed the Lapu Lapu.

The Royal Hawaiian is making a comeback because its staff prides itself on quality food, fantastic service and chill Hawaiian vibes. Once it’s back in action, take the chance to see something new, become a part of history and create a new “second home.”

[ This Message was edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2016-06-22 10:22 ]


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AceExplorer
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 2169
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2016-06-22 11:39 am   Permalink

This is great news and also an indicator that the tiki revival is still moving forward.

The more tiki we have out in the general population, the more I feel tiki will continue to have fans many decades into the future. How can we forget the good times and the good drinks? I'm gonna grow old and crusty and remain a tikiphile. I hope many others will do the same.

I think someday we're going to need some cool tiki and retro retirement communities.


 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2410
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2016-06-22 11:10 pm   Permalink

Yippee! Loved dem Lapu Lapu's

 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2410
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2016-08-24 11:38 pm   Permalink

Stopped by to check it out on the way home from Oasis on Sunday. Heard a strong rumor, fwiw, that they will open “in a week and a half” from someone on the property.
Cheers

[ This Message was edited by: nui 'umi 'umi 2016-08-24 23:40 ]


 
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finky099
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 505
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2016-08-29 08:00 am   Permalink

Called over the weekend, but still just got the voice message saying they were awaiting some final approvals in order to open. The message says to keep checking their website for updates. Really looking forward to this spot re-opening.

 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2410
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2016-09-07 10:21 pm   Permalink

Stopped by to see what’s going on there. Spoke to one of the Barkeeps who said “probably a couple of weeks”
The parking just north was being repaved. The front door has been changed out. I was pleased to see two 10’ tikis flanking the sign out front. They could be the originals or very good copies. Sadly, if they are the originals they have been refinished-the years old patina is gone. They have also transposed the tikis - THe double faced tiki is now on the left side of the sign. I’m not complaining just anxious to try out their Lapu Lapu.
Cheers






[ This Message was edited by: nui 'umi 'umi 2016-09-07 22:23 ]


 
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tikigreg
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1232
From: ClubTiki
Posted: 2016-09-08 07:35 am   Permalink

They look to be the originals when compared to the photos on page 2 of this thread. I may have missed it, but were these carved by BenZart?

 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2410
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2016-09-09 12:32 am   Permalink

There’s a Good pic of one of the ten footers on page 7.
The pix on page 2 date from 2005 and really show the patina on these dudes. Upside to the refinish if they are indeed the same ones is that they’ll last a few more years in our California sun. I too wonder if they are BenZart. Chime in folks
Cheers


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11586
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2016-09-09 10:44 am   Permalink

Sorry folks, but those Tikis are nowhere near being the originals. They are recent additions from when the original, vintage Royal Hawaiian was wrecked by being renovated in the "new look" by the new owners years ago.

These Tikis are unfortunate misunderstandings of what makes a carving a "Tiki". There is too much "Lord of the Rings" in them. American, mid-century Tiki takes its inspiration from Polynesian carvings, and then stylizes them with cubist and modernist angularity. It stays away from organic, humanlike portrayal.

The ORIGINAL Tiki poles in front of the R.H. were very cool modernist poles carved by Andres Bumatay. They were stolen and rotted away over the years:




 
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Bora Boris
Mr. Unreasonable

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2617
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2016-09-09 10:51 am   Permalink

With all the talented carvers out there it would be nice to update the current out front Tikis with a nod to the past.

 
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finky099
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 505
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2016-09-17 2:37 pm   Permalink

Stopped by today and got a look inside. Will post pics later. The place looks great! they are opening to the public a week from Monday (9/26). It sounds like the bar is making a lot of their own syrups and spices. And, yes, they will be stocking Hamilton's.

Cheers!


 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2410
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2016-09-17 10:03 pm   Permalink

Tanks for the post Finky
Cheers


 
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finky099
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 505
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2016-09-18 02:57 am   Permalink

Some follow up pics to my previous post-
I would be very interested to know how the "new" look of the RH compares to its previous incarnations. From what I can tell, the "tropical" atmosphere seems to be ramped up from the 2012 RH a little? There's at least a handful of the same carvings and tiki artistic pieces and lamps, but their locations have been moved around. Those who were familiar with the RH, please chime in with your thoughts based on my amateur photography of the interiors I am curious what the place looked like in the 50's and 60's. Sven posted a pic in this thread back in Nov 2011 that looked AMAZING in terms of decor (dim with bamboo or luahala matting all around, colored lights etc). The current state is still far from that but it looks better than the "poly pop Denny's" it was previously.

I spoke with a couple members of the staff (in particular John Pflueger, the executive chef) who were prepping for a private party this evening, but welcomed me inside to talk and wander around a bit. Whether the tikis are Hawaiian or not (and there's definitely a mix, but the good stuff outweighs the modern poly-pop ones) the "escapist" element was strong and it felt pretty cohesive. The small diorama sections of "indoor outdoor" flowers/garden felt like a tiny piece of the Mai Kai grafted into the dining areas here. Not as lush and detailed as they seem to have been in decades past, but still pleasing to the eye. There's not enough of this kind of thing in Orange County! Yes, two big flat screens above the bar, but this is Laguna Beach, some concessions may be necessary. I didn't get to ask about music but hope the selections will be "thematically appropriate."

Josh, one of the bartenders, talked about some of the things we can look forward to from their bar. A menu wasn't available at the time, but it sounds like they will have a good variety of tropical drinks (and of course the lapu lapu), but the mixology seems like it is knowledgeable and looking to be innovative. You can see in the pics below the rums behind the bar feature a lot of English style and Spanish but also some agricole. While they are carrying plenty of nationally known labels, they are also trying to keep smaller "craft" distillers on the shelf. They have Botanica gin from Falcon Spirits up in the Bay Area, and man the nose on that bottle smells KILLER. But, I digress...

They are making many/most of their syrups and spices in-house, including some interesting ones like a pineapple cinnamon syrup and a four-pepper spicy tincture that had a good flavor with quite a bit of zing behind it. They are making their own falernum and will be making their own orgeat hopefully in the future. They're curing dried pineapple and angostura-soaked spent lime halves to garnish drinks, and I spied a handful of different swizzles and picks behind the bar. Muggery initially will be "off the shelf" from Tiki Farm (similar to what Hatch over in Tustin District is using) but they are collaborating to bring back the classic Royal Hawaiian mug (perhaps with some new glaze or color) in 6 months or so.

Looking in from the front, just beyond the door is the host desk and waiting area.




From the inside


Pufferfish inside glass float lamps. I was told these were original to the place. Looking back at photos from the most recent previous incarnation of RH, it seems only maybe one of these was hung in this room before.


The pufferfish lamp in this room also reportedly dates to the original location.


Some of the dining room areas









The bar area














All in all, I can't wait to go back when they're open!

Cheers!


[ This Message was edited by: finky099 2016-09-18 02:58 ]

[ This Message was edited by: finky099 2016-09-18 03:01 ]

[ This Message was edited by: finky099 2016-09-18 03:04 ]


 
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2410
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2016-09-18 11:10 pm   Permalink

Cept for the flat screens, the back bar has not changed much. Like you, my wife and I can’t wait to get back.
Mahalo


 
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