Here I am again, back with more Laguna Beach restaurant updates for you. I hope the news I share here and at StuNewsLaguna is a happier daily briefing than most of the news you’re seeing elsewhere.

I’ve always adored our restaurant owners and chefs in this town. I’m constantly amazed and amused these days, though, with what they keep coming up with to stay in operation while feeding you the best food in Orange County. Here’s what’s new:

First, the New Pantry at Sapphire Thanks You

        Last week was the first full week of operation for new Owner/Operator Russ Bendel at The Pantry, formerly the Sapphire Pantry in the Old Pottery place. (If you missed my story last week here about their opening, find it at my website.) Bendel and Laguna’s Director of Operations Chris Hutten sent a shout out, thanking all the many Laguna residents who checked in to welcome their new staff.

Executive Chef Jared Cook puts his newly inherited Sapphire kitchen through its paces with the re-opening of their next door to-go outlet, The Pantry.

Their best-sellers to date? The Breakfast Burrito (it took me three mornings to finish mine), their own guava cream cheese danish, and gourmet coffee drinks. They’re hoping to be able to sell their craft cocktails by this weekend; stay tuned for updates. Their hours are 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Stand Takes a Seat

This weekend, longtime Laguna favorite, The Stand, notified me that they had decided to temporarily close “through at least April.” Citing difficulty in paying the skeleton crew and the fact that her workers wanted to spend more time with their families, Owner Alizabeth Arciniaga shuttered the store on Saturday.

Lumberyard’s Vegetarian Burrito is gaining in crowd popularity

Hours prior, Zinc Cafe and Market confirmed that they, too, had closed for at least four to eight weeks. My vegetarian and vegan friends, don’t despair. While all of us will be happy to see these restaurants re-open, many restaurateurs have assured me that will be able to offer plenty of creative options for you, and that you’re welcome to call directly to discuss further.

Cary Redfearn of Lumberyard was first to come back to me after my plea for “great vegetarian food ideas.” He and Chef “Primo” (Josue Tavares) offer a giant vegetarian burrito with spinach, sprouts, edamame, Spanish rice and Jack cheese (which can be optional) for $12.

Ready to eat healthier yet? Chef Maro at Royal Hawaiian is wood-grilling daily arrivals of fresh farmer’s market veggies as sides or entrées.

Remember, too, Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill’s Chef Maro Molteni wood-grills substantial servings of a rotating field of fresh vegetables daily, and pairs them with various sauces and salsas.


The Drake Champions “Setting the Mood”

One of our newest restaurant additions, The Drake Laguna Beach, came up with a great idea that’s going viral. They’re suggesting a “challenge” they’ve titled “Set the Table … Set the Mood Challenge.”

Noting that dinner is a meal to be enjoyed, The Drake suggests that patrons order from The Drake and, while waiting for delivery, actually set their table and take a “before” shot and “after” shot once the food is in play.

See the BEFORE photo, above, from one patron . . . and here’s the AFTER photo:

Drake patrons have been challenged to set their tables and upload “before” and “after” photos once their food arrives.

When they upload their photos and tag The Drake, they’re entered to win gift cards or another “Drake Experience” on the house.

“It’s been a surprising success,” said Director of Operations Matthew Timmes. “It’s a nice reminder to everyone that we can control our mood and enjoy moments throughout the day that celebrate what’s good in life.

“I’d love to see other restaurants in town take up the challenge, too,” he continued. “We’re a community that doesn’t just love food – we love the experience of food.”

Drake patrons are submitting rather significant table decor photos as they wait for the arrival of their food.

Some clients have provided extravagant table decor, one even setting the table for her upcoming Easter Sunday dinner. (The bunnies are waiting!)

Speaking of Easter, click here for ALL Easter Restaurant offerings in Laguna Beach.

Full Restaurant Directory, Version 7, Available Now

I’m always posting daily finds in my social platforms and updating my large Restaurant Directory on all open restaurant hours, food specials and discounts here in Laguna Beach (confirmed closures are also noted on the last page). Opt-in at my website for the latest downloadable edition today, April 7th. Thank you for continuing to support your favorite restaurants and chefs of Laguna Beach! As a community, we will help each other through this.

And, for Easter News from our Restaurants …

Check here for the details on all the Easter restaurant options in our 2020 COVID year!



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