As of about a week ago, the City of Laguna gave Rum Social owners the greenlight to complete their interior renovations. Rum Social is the highly anticipated new concept moving into the old Watermarc location at 448 S. Coast Highway in “Restaurant Row.”
The ownership had hoped to open by mid- to late July, but they’ve set their sights now for the end of August or first of September, instead.
Rum Social Principles include John Fisher and Steven Sherwood, who own the Gelato Paradiso in the same Peppertree Lane alley, and Ken Ussenko, a renowned restaurant concept designer and longtime associate with Fisher and Sherwood.
To the end, the trio remains as optimistic as ever.
“We’ve been eager to open our doors, of course,” said Ussenko, the concept’s designer. “But with the craziness of Laguna’s summer season and the shortage in restaurant work staff across the board, it could be a blessing in disguise. We want everyone to have a really great food and service experience from our first day forward.”
Some Assembly Required
As it goes with experienced restaurateurs, the Rum Social team has remained unflappable, devoting its energy to getting ready to get ready.
In June, Ken and his contractors began constructing all the booths and modulars in an Irvine warehouse so that they can simply transport and slide everything into place. All of the new kitchen equipment is ready and waiting, too.
“Essentially, we’re buying and organizing everything we can think to do in our warehouse, from figuring out our service aisleways to matting and framing our artwork,” Ken said.
“Once the interior shell is ready, it’s going to be like a military operation with all hands on deck,” he said with a grin.
An Upscale Hemingway Speakeasy
Nicknamed by the Rum Social team as “an upscale Hemingway speakeasy,” the restaurant will feature a Caribbean/Asian food concept inspired by rum.
The old Watermarc bar has been moved upstairs, allowing for a more open main dining room on the main/street level.
In the bar, flamingo and teal accents will swim throughout, partnering with rich, 3-dimensional wood palm leaves on the ceiling, and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors to the outside patio. A giant TV monitor will reside on the main bar wall, displaying live shots from tropical beaches with an occasional video beach stroll interrupt by someone like James Bond’s Sean Connery.
Diners on the main level will enjoy similar island-friendly color accents coupled with large black-and-white framed photos of tropical island scenes.
Stay tuned for more details on Rum Social’s progress in my @BestofLagunaBeach social platforms.