For the last two weeks, our Laguna Beach restaurants have been grappling with decisions on whether to temporarily close or try the take-out/delivery route.

Last Friday, I reported that nearly 80 Laguna Beach restaurants were opting for take-out and delivery. Since that time, we’ve dropped to 67 restaurants open, but that includes the re-opening of Chef Amar’s Broadway by Amar Santana, Carmelita’s Mexican Kitchen and Nick’s Laguna Beach.

Even Mainstreet Bar, one of the first in the state required to close because of the bar lockdown, has gotten back into the game with the sale of wine and beer, and they’ve ingeniously partnered with Pizza Bar for food delivery with their alcoholic beverages. And, in just these few short days, we’re seeing much more creativity and expansion in options.

Here’s the link to the latest directory I’ve compiled of ALL Laguna Beach restaurant offerings and hours  (Tues, March 24th)

And, here are the biggest changes we’re seeing in this week’s update:

When life gives you lemons, make Lemon Drops to go

For all of you who tried your own hand at martinis and margaritas this weekend, this announcement should come as blessed relief to you: While the state continues to crack down on our activity, the surprise entry of the week has been ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) lifting its rigorous licensing guidelines to allow for the delivery of beer, wine and, yes, ready-made cocktails.

Per ABC, “Alcoholic beverages that are packaged by are establishment are open containers and may not be transported in a motor vehicle except in the vehicle’s trunk, or, if there is no trunk, the container may be kept in some other area of the vehicle that is not normally occupied by the driver or passengers (which does not include a utility compartment or glove compartment (Vehicle Code Section 23224).” Restaurateurs are also required to use no-tamper stickers on their lids.

Restaurants and patrons are singing hallelujah to the news that cocktails can now be delivered on a to-go basis. Here, three popular drinks that we really don’t want to try at home are prepped and waiting for their no-tamper lid stickers before being sent on their way.  Photo credit: Reunion Kitchen

Restaurateurs like Scott McIntosh (Reunion Kitchen and Asada), Cary Redfearn (Lumberyard), Rainer Schwarz (Driftwood Kitchen), Amar Santana (Broadway), our oldest friends in Solag (Coyote Grill) and our newest friends in the same ‘hood, The Drake, joyously jumped on that bandwagon in a nano-second with humorous takes on their best-selling cocktails. Expect to see more cocktail offerings in the near future.

Family style options are hitting the streets

While every restaurant continues to offer single servings of your favorite hits, you can expect a growing number of family style dinners that serve two to four people. Starfish Laguna and Avila’s El Ranchito have always been great at this, and Lumberyard’s popular Rotisserie Chicken Dinners and Rib Dinners are now being joined by Penne Pasta and Meatloaf family dinners and family-sized salads. GG’s Bistro offers multiple family style options, from burger dinners to pastas and vegetarian meals. And, now that Chef Amar is a new daddy, he’s also serving up family style options from Broadway.

“Vacuum packed” gives you 7 days of refrigeration

Leave it to Chef Tomas to come up with the first offer of vacuum sealed, ready-to-eat meals that can last as long as 7 days in your refrigerator. Begun at his San Clemente restaurant, the popular operation expanded to his downtown Laguna restaurant yesterday (Monday) with pickup every day in both locations. Order the day prior.

Keep in mind, too, that many restaurant soups can be frozen as well as other sundry food items – check those websites for helpful hints.

Brussels boosts every one of its menu items in vacuum-sealed packs for longevity.

The finished product from Brussels Bistro once released from its vacuum pack.

Hours and discounts are still changing like the tides

Most restaurateurs are chopping their daily hours. If you call and get no answer, don’t assume they’ve closed their doors. Most are keeping more accurate notes on their websites and in their social media.

I’m noting a few unique items below but can’t list them all as it’s changing too rapidly. Just be sure to ask when you call. I’m also offering a regularly updated and expanded PDF on discounts and deals to readers on my email list at


Begin online orders rather than driving up to order

In keeping with the latest recommendations, our restaurants should only be offering walk-up windows or curbside pickup. Allowing people all the way into one’s restaurant is a no-no. Further, when you order online, there’s less risk to everyone – no risk of cross-contamination with credit cards, processors or pens, for one thing. And, it gives the restaurant plenty of time to prepare your order before your arrival or your designated delivery company’s arrival.

Now a regular view, patrons wait patiently outside closed restaurant doors to pick up their favorite meals. Photo credit: Scott Brashier

Lastly, if the grocery doesn’t have it, chances are your restaurant will

Driftwood Kitchen’s wine bottles to go now arrive with a bonus “thank you” gift from Chef Rainer.

Beyond fresh, hot food, some restaurants are expanding into pantry and mini-grocery pop ups. Chef Lindsay’s Nirvana Grille is offering a bustling Co-Op for grocery and household products. Restaurateur John Secretan’s Zinc Cafe + Market is still offering produce and household products. Teemu Selanne’s Steakhouse is offering everything from fresh, butchered meats and fresh seafood to breads, dairy and eggs. And, to top it all off, Driftwood Kitchen’s Chef Rainer is offering 20% off every wine bottle with a roll of toilet paper on top.

This week, expect to see new commissary-style entries from The Drake. And, hopefully next week we’ll be seeing the revised Sapphire Pantry re-open under our Russ Bendel’s new ownership. (More on that story this Friday in StuNews.)


Here’s the link to the latest directory of ALL Laguna Beach restaurant offerings and hours  (Tues, March 24th)

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