The iconic restaurant located in Laguna Beach that has been serving their famous ala moana ribs and signature lapu lapu cocktail since 1947 is officially closed. Their last dinner service was Saturday, April 21st.
In the past year much positive momentum was gained with the addition of Chef James Harris, who had given the menu a makeover that refreshed locals’ favorites and added fresh and exciting new additions. During his time at the Royal Hawaiian he took second place in the I Love Poke festival, was voted best Ahi Poke in Orange County by the OC Weekly and won two titles as ‘Best Chef in Orange County’ in the quarterly Sunday Night Chef Fight series. In addition General Manager Colleen Oyler was brought on to cut costs and help improve the restaurant from a financial standpoint.
While both Harris and Oyler were successful in doing their part the owner, Doug Cole, cited issues with lease negotiations, recent restrictions of playing live music and the economy. Cole and Oyler attribute the limitations on the live music that were enforced by the City as the largest contributing factor. Prior to the restrictions the Royal Hawaiian was a popular place for music lovers to enjoy bands until 1 p.m., but they were forced to cut back the hours to 11 p.m.
"That was two hours of revenue that we lost,” Oyler says. “And what typically happened is that when the music ended at 11, everyone rushed out the door to go downtown, where they could still see live music. It affected our sales tremendously—we lost a minimum of $2,000-$3,000 a night."
Cole is thankful for everyone including staff, guests, and regulars who have supported the Royal Hawaiian over the past 65 years.