Recent LGBT pride events reminded me of four friends from the past that made a difference in Laguna Beach.
Art Frink and Harry Moon opened the Cottage restaurant in the 1960s. It had been a breakfast place and originally a residence built in the early 1900s at Coast Highway and Aster Street.
Harry found the original front door (still here in the Urth café) in the old garage on the alley behind the home. Inside, rooms had been walled off for living spaces. They installed the door, opened the rooms inside, made improvements and opened the Cottage. It became so popular that on some weekends it was open ‘til late at night and without a patio, served 900 plus patrons each Saturday and Sunday. In 1970, it had 24 refrigerators and freezers, the original small kitchen and on weekends served complimentary coffee to waiting crowds. Omelets by the hundreds were served and often the tiny kitchen had a hard time keeping up.
There was no wine or beer because Art and Harry felt it would slow down the turnover of tables. The actor Richard Benjamin and comedien Paul Lynde and other stars ate there and later the kitchen was enlarged and a patio was added. It was a fabulous place and destination point for many.
Rick and Shannon, a young couple from Seattle, established Dizz’s As Is in the 1970s at Coast Highway and Nyes Place. Rick looked over the dining room and Shannon managed the kitchen. A bowl of Italian fish soup was $5.95. Complimentary liver pate and vermouth were served with dinner. In the early days, they had limited funds so bought silver ware and china at garage sales. Friends loaned or donated pieces from the ‘30s and ‘40s. From time to time they had wonderful parties at their modest apartment for all of their customers, rich and poor. Shannon loved baking salmon along with racks of lamb. The ambiance was real, especially later in the evenings when even O.J. Simpson could be heard above the roar of the crowd. We have them to thank for today’s Dizz’s, still going strong.
From before the days of Richard Halliburton, who built his concrete house 400 feet above the ocean and Aliso Canyon, gays have made a difference in Laguna Beach and they still do today.
Roger Carter, Laguna Beach