The Plant Man: Myriad Hangouts to Chose From



By Steve Kawaratani
By Steve Kawaratani

“In my little town… I was just my fathers son.”

–Simon and Garfunkel

To the casual observer, Laguna Beach has always been a vibrant destination with a number of quality dining and entertainment venues, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.  But it wasn’t always like that…

Growing up in Laguna, during the ‘50s and ‘60s past, rarely did our family venture out after the sun had set.  After all, Mom and Oba-chan prepared wonderful home-cooked dinners, and afterwards, we had “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” to watch on our black and white television… They seemingly never went out either.

My, how time has changed our little town.  Funky trailer parks and motels gave way to world-class resorts and fine dining, which brought nightlife and revitalization to areas like downtown, the central bluffs and Wood’s Cove. Of course, successful businesses contribute to the city coffers, which fund desired services for residents, a win-win situation.

At a certain age, we choose to hangout mainly outside the family environment. Where better to meet friends than at one of Laguna’s wonderful restaurant bars, rooftops and decks in town? These venues reflect our preference for al fresco dining year-around.  Better still, we can have a view too.

Updated city ordinances now encourage businesses to include outdoor café seating and bike racks, counted towards parking requirements. These incentives promote pedestrian traffic and the vibrancy associated with day and nighttime activity, often combined with entertainment.

The City Council recognized, during the depths of the still lingering near-financial depression, that shuttered doors are not good for Laguna.

Mozambique, for instance, was allowed later dining hours and weekday entertainment. (I assisted in modifying the conditional use permit.)

Recently, the Planning Commission has implemented the city’s noise ordinance as the standard, permitting amplified entertainment at Rock’n Fish and The Cliff Restaurant.  In return, operators of these venues as well as Mozambique are required to self-monitor adjacent sound levels.

Linking all of the summertime fun is the trolley.  From North Laguna to Three Arch Bay, we can visit our favorite hangouts without worries over imbibing or parking. Shuttle companies continue to connect many of the restaurants and hotels during the “off-season.”

My father, Pete, started a small business 65 years ago. Working hard, he supported our family and the local restaurants of the day.  He also introduced me to Ozzie and Harriet Nelson while they lived in town.  I can still recall how real and genuine they were… even nicer than they appeared on television.

See you next time.

Steve is a 62 year resident of Laguna Beach.  He served on the city’s Design Review Board and is a land use consultant.  He may reached at [email protected].



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