After four years, the Laguna hotel resumes its activities with the reopening of the lobby and restaurant of the historic building on the ground floor.
The partial reopening of the Laguna Hotel is the first step in the restoration of the property, for which Laguna Beach Co. has a long term lease.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday celebrated the completion of the first phase of the renovation project, as well as the public’s return to the hotel.
Mo Honarkar, the founder of Laguna Beach Co., explained that his vision for the Laguna Hotel included it as an extension of the residents’ lounges of Laguna Beach, a place where people can come for drinks, meals , rallies and meetings.
He added that Laguna Beach attracts people who enjoy an active lifestyle.
“You come and stay in Laguna because you want to know more about Laguna, you want to experience Laguna – the beautiful beaches here, the beautiful restaurants that we have, the Pageant of the Masters, the museum,” Honarkar said.
“You can walk everywhere here. You don’t have to bring your car.
The Laguna Hotel will now house two new restaurants in Larsen – named after Laguna Beach’s original “Greeter” Eiler Larsen – and a Japanese restaurant called Fin. Menus and reservations for both restaurants will be available on OpenTable.
Craig Strong, who will be the executive chef of the Laguna Hotel, said restaurants will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner.
The community is familiar with Strong’s work, including when he was Executive Chef of the Studio at Montage. He joked that his success was the result of the opinions that came with the meals he cooked.
“I think the best thing is people are just excited to see the building come to life,” Strong said. “So far it’s been fine. It helps to have that view. I used to tell people I was cheating – the food was better because the view was great – and I hope I can continue with that.
“You enter in a good mood. You’re ready. You are ready to have some fun when you step into an environment like this. It’s nice. It feels like southern California.
Honarkar received congratulatory plaques from Rep. Michelle Steel, MP Cottie Petrie-Norris and OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett at the dedication ceremony, which was also attended by Laguna Beach City Council and the municipal staff.
“There is a saying that good things happen to those who wait,” Bartlett said in his remarks. “But not to those who wait too late… you have certainly waited a long time, so congratulations.”
Some community members were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the new ground floor at three open house events over the past two weeks. Drinks and appetizers were served as attendees checked out the furniture and artwork adorning the walls.
The hallway leading from the entrance to the dining room allows guests to review the lifespan of the building, which has existed since 1930, through historical photographs. Five chandeliers sparkle from the ceiling above.
An outdoor terrace and dining area overlook the Pacific Ocean, while the bar’s are surrounded by large marine and floral-inspired artwork. One of the artwork features a diving helmet above the fireplace.
“There is nowhere in the world like Laguna Beach, or like the Laguna Hotel,” Hasty Honarkar, vice president of Laguna Beach Co., said in a statement.
“We have worked diligently to honor this unique location by paying considerable care and attention to every detail of this renovation. We are extremely happy that the residents of Laguna are visiting the property and experiencing it for themselves. We aim to make the city proud, and I have no doubts that they will not be disappointed.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Mayor Bob Whalen said he believed the restoration and reopening of the Laguna Hotel would help revitalize the city center.
“We are definitely coming out of the pandemic, the investments are coming back to the community,” Whalen said. “It feels good after the long, dark winter of COVID and empty buildings. “
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