January 10, 2006

End Nearing for Royal Hawaiian?

Filed under: Los Angeles,News,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 7:19 pm
Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach
Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach

Scott McGerik recently visited the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach, and he reports:

You might want to make a trip to the Royal Hawaiian soon! We learned from the bar staff that the RH is under new ownership and may be closing within the next two months.

Yikes! The Royal Hawaiian has seen better days, there’s no doubt. The pufferfish all seem to have contracted some sort of mange, to the extent that it’s actually impressive that they’ve managed to not fall. I think they’re suspended now only by decades of cigarette smoke residue. Now, that’s no detraction for me — my love for the musty is boundless — but whatever dusty ambience could have been achieved is destroyed by the late-’80s white rounded metal chairs. <<shudder>>

It wasn’t always this way — the Royal Hawaiian opened in 1947, making it one of the oldest places still around. It was originally in a different location, and there are photos of the old place up in the lobby. A few details here and there betray that the Royal Hawaiian once was nice. It wouldn’t take much to make it so again, just a bit of care. Today, the Royal Hawaiian is best known in my circles for being a place to get bombed on potent Lapu Lapus.

The Royal Hawaiian’s location right on PCH in Laguna Beach would be an attractive one for most any restaurant, so I can understand the concern that this sale may mean the end of the Royal Hawaiian. More details are needed!

7 Responses to “End Nearing for Royal Hawaiian?”

  1. Alice Bag Says:

    Dear Humuhumu,

    It’s sad that this place the Royal Hawaiian is going away too. We visited last year and you could see that it must have been the place, once upon a time.

    Thanks for the tip on the Kon-Tiki. Tucson is actually more my speed than Scottsdale, but it wasn’t an option.

    I don’t really know all that much about tiki bars, but I do know my way around a drink and Drift in Scottsdale makes some nice kiddie punch that they serve in real pretty mugs. Next time I’ll know to bring my flask so I can add the missing ingredient – rum.


  2. Griffin Says:

    I am extremely upset that such a great landmark is shutting down. My family has been visiting the RH for over 40 years. I am a Laguna local visit the RH everyweek because I love the owners, staff and expect to see friends, family and a good time. It is a true locals bar that will be missed. I will plan on throwing the greatest bash the RH has ever seen before they shut their doors and box up all the lapu glasses. This will create a huge hole in Laguna history.

  3. Tate Says:

    Griffin, when is the party?

  4. Gordon Says:

    you know…it’s a shaaaame about the hawaiian…to go so suddenly like that.

    there’s been so much speculation over the past 3 or 4 quarters regarding a potential sale that i almost believed that it would stay just that: speculation.

    now, however, and as much as any good man would wish to question the veracity of latest “sale,” it does somehow seems more real this time.

    i’ve lived in laguna beach my whole life and i think i speak for the entire community when i say that the royal h is irreplacable.

    i’m not gonna lie to you…i’ve got that sick feeling in my gizzard right now (the kind you get from one too many hotdogs at the ballgame) and it’s not because i’m going to work tomorrow for the first time in 5 months. it’s because i feel like i’m losing an old friend–the royal hawaiian, it’s owners, staff and loyal patrons.

    if this really is the last dance…

    mahalo and aloha nui

  5. Humu Kon Tiki » My Travels: Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach Says:

    [...] On our way out we spoke with some of the waitstaff, and they confirmed that they know nothing about what the new owner intends to do — whether the building will stand or be destroyed in favor of a new building. They did say that escrow has been pushed back several times, and they don’t know exactly when they’ll close. They will definitely be open until at least June 11, which is significantly later than I’d last heard. [...]

  6. Mermaid Says:

    Can’t believe I will never be able to go here again. I grew up in Orange County and this was a place my parent’s used to take me. Was happy to grow up and drink the Lapu’s, but most of all will miss the ono ono dressing. Every time I’d drive to Laguna always made a run in to buy a pint or two. Tried to make it myself but failed. Does anyone know the recipe???? SSOINTOYOU@msn.com

  7. Mermaid Says:

    I was really happy the place was still open even if it’s in a bit of a mess. Food was as remembered. Since my post in June of 06 I was able to come up with a resonable faxcimile of the ono ono dressing which I had experimented with for years. I sent it to “Ask Your Neighbor” in the OC Register and they printed it on 2/08 this year. Was surprised to see my recipe now listed as the real thing by another writer. Oh well, it’s close and maybe even better since my is thicker and uses better Manoa lettuce which I grow myself. You can order the seeds from a company in OC. I am SB of Camano Island formerly of North Tustin.

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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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