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The Stand Changes Hands

The Stand Natural Foods Restaurant maintains its stand as the first vegan café in Laguna Beach. photo by Mitch Ridder

The Stand Natural Foods Restaurant maintains its stand as the first vegan café in Laguna Beach. photo by Mitch Ridder

The Stand, the original home of Hav’A Chips and a favorite surfers’ stop for carrot juice, avocado sandwiches and date shakes, has been sold for the first time in 40 years.

The new owner, Alizabeth “Alisa” Arciniaga, says she intends to keep the vegan outdoor eatery pretty much the same and will bring back some favorite desserts from the past. The order-at-the-window cafe at 238 Thalia St. was one of the first restaurants in Laguna Beach to offer an all-vegan menu.

“Life goes on,” commented long-time owner and local resident Edward Brancard. “I am not interested in giving an interview about this.”

Arciniaga said Brancard is considering retiring. She worked at The Stand in 1979, her first job as a teenager while attending Laguna Beach High School, she said. Her father, Alfredo Arciniaga, was an artist in town.

When Arciniaga and her daughter, Aarica, were eating at The Stand two summers ago, Arciniaga overheard a conversation between a father and his young son and was impressed that people who ate there when they were young were now bringing their children. She asked Brancard then to consider her as a buyer if he ever wanted to retire. Her plan is to keep the outdoor food stand’s integrity and old-Laguna charm, she said.

Other locals who applied for work at The Stand when they were teenage girls said

they figured they weren’t hired because they were born under a bad sign. The

Current owner Alizabeth "Alisa" Arciniaga worked at the stand as a teenager.  Photo by Doug Miller

Current owner Alizabeth “Alisa” Arciniaga worked at the stand as a teenager.
Photo by Doug Miller

application, said Robyn Rhodes-Knutson, asked only for name, telephone number and astrological sign. Aquarians and Leo’s need not apply, according to Facebook posts on “You’re A Laguna Native If…”

The Stand’s made-to-order vegan cuisine means no animal products are used including dairy and honey. The Stand’s menu is also sans salt; a tray of condiments offers sauces and shakers to satisfy spicier appetites. The outdoor café generated $649,566 in receipts in 2014, according to city finance-office records.

The red-barn-looking building, which now also houses Laguna Cyclery, started out as a produce and meat market, with the adjacent food stand, Brancard said in an earlier article. It was purchased by Brancard and his partner and girlfriend, Cindy Constantine, in 1974, said Constantine. The barn’s “silo” was owned by the inventors of Hav’A Chips, Larry and Jan Dunn, she said, and was originally called The Hav’A Stand.

Constantine was “the smoothie girl” at Hav’A Stand and went on to train “The Stand girls” as the new co-owner, she said. After operating The Stand for several years together, Constantine sold her interest to Brancard when they decided to part ways, she said in an interview Tuesday from her home near Lake Arrowhead.

Farms as far apart as Ojai and Temecula took Brancard and Constantine on regular excursions to purchase and supply The Stand with fresh and organic vegetables and fruit. “It was an adventure,” Constantine said. “We spearheaded the organic vegan health movement in Laguna, starting with ourselves.”

A sample item from The Stand menu.

Samples from The Stand’s vegan menu.

Brancard had helped develop a health foods co-op in Laguna Canyon and owned a natural health store called Serendipity in North Laguna, she said. “He was probably the guy who brought natural foods and veganism to Laguna,” she said. Constantine also taught Tai Chi at the American Legion Hall. Living a naturally healthy lifestyle wasn’t mainstream back then, she said.

With its location across Coast Highway from a popular surf break at the end of Thalia Street, The Stand quickly turned to a sandwich and shake shop for beachgoers. The new owner said she plans to continue to cater to The Stand’s loyal customers, some of whom have patronized the only all-vegan place in town since it opened.

 

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  1. M. SHILLING

    Ms. Robinson,
    Your article was most interesting, however, what was not clear is that Edward Brancard was the owner of the BUSINESS, not the property of The Stand. He sold his business to Ms Arciniaga. The Stand and Laguna Cyclery properites are owned by Jay ANDRUS and rented to the business owners.

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