After nearly two decades of serving up Caribbean and West Indian cuisine—and plenty of rum—in Laguna Beach, restaurant owner and chef Eva Madray confirmed that as of Dec. 15, Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen is closed and in search of a new location to call home.
Madray said Thursday that the main reason for the closure is the sale of their building and a lease that was not renewed by the current landlord, David Cox. Madray said Cox purchased the building three years ago for $1.7 million and listed the property for sale in October.
The mixed-use commercial property at 31732 Coast Highway and 31731 Virginia Way is listed for sale on Loopnet for $2,629,500 by Berkshire Hathaway.
“My lease expired as of August 2018 and [I] was not granted another lease,” Madray said. “Considering the current situation, my rent would certainly increase.”
Madray said Thursday that a new location for the restaurant has not yet been determined. She plans on meeting with investors in January and is considering options like a fast-casual jerk shack.
“The season of change is now; I feel that the best is yet to come,” Madray said.
Madray, who has been living in Laguna for 30 years, opened Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen just over 19 years ago. The restaurant business seemed to come naturally to Madray, who said she never really liked cooking and never went to cooking school. In addition to her popular cuisine, which quickly became a staple in Laguna, Madray offered her guests more than 480 different kinds of rum—a collection she’s been told is one of the best in the world.
Madray said she’s thankful for the wave of supportive messages from friends and loyal patrons, but she doesn’t have the heart to read them just yet. A Dec. 16 post on the restaurant’s Facebook page announcing the closure has garnered more than 120 comments from locals who were disappointed by the news but hopeful for a new location in town.
“It has been a true joy and pleasure to share with you our love of Caribbean and West Indian food for the past 19 years in which we have called Laguna Beach home,” Madray said in a statement to the community. “We’ve hosted some amazing events featuring many of the world’s finest rums paired with our cuisine. You welcomed us into your lives by celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and more special occasions than we can count with us. We’ve loved each and every minute of it and we are blessed that you chose to share these special moments with us.”