Letter: Laguna Deserves Better Restaurants

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I had to get off my duff and write in this week thanks to a quote from Toni Iseman in last week’s Indy article regarding proposed reform to historic preservation laws.

Toni said: “I’ve talked to restaurant owners who say there are too many restaurants right now, and if you look at the restaurants that are struggling, they say this [new restaurant] and it becomes an issue of being a food court.”

I think that Toni’s statement is missing one short adjective: bad. Because there are far too many bad restaurants in town.

Our family has developed a sad, soul-crushing ritual when we don’t feel like cooking. We dejectedly slink off for the regular, bland pilgrimage to La Sirena. We are so lucky to live here and have absolutely no complaints, well…other than the food. The food here sucks.

I wonder which restauranteurs Toni spoke with. Were they from such Laguna Beach bastions of mediocrity like White House, Greeter’s Corner or Lumberyard? Restaurants don’t do poorly because there are too many restaurants. It’s because they serve unoriginal and trifling fare, are overpriced, or frequently, both. If your restaurant is hurting because a newer location is better, step up your game and stop complaining.

Toni says additional restaurants would make Laguna a “food court.” Have you visited the food courts in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa or Los Angeles? The Grand Central Market in DTLA is filled with adventurous choices at reasonable prices. Instead, we get at least 27 locations on a one-mile stretch of the PCH that have tacos on the menu. What I wouldn’t do to have a Wexler’s or KazuNori here. Or just to have Tender Greens move into the former Johnny Rockets.

Have you been to Manhattan Beach lately? That town’s turnaround over the past five years is nothing less than transformative. Yet back here, we have empty, closed retail stores and lackluster restaurants with menus that harken back to 1986.

Instead of clutching our pearls regarding Mo Honarkar’s plans for our city, let’s welcome him with open arms and curious palates. Please, Mo, you know the potential of this town and what it could be. Make it happen and be sure to bring the chefs.

And for those of you who fear change and the loss of what makes Laguna Beach special, I have one question for you: When did mediocrity ever make anything special?


Steve Goldstein, Laguna Beach


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