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Madison Square's new owner talks about new name and future plans for the Laguna cafe

Madison Square's new owner talks about new name and future plans for the Laguna cafe
Bill Fang is the new owner of Madison Square & Garden Cafe in Laguna Beach. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach's Madison Square & Garden Cafe has a new owner and a new name.

The quirky sandwich, coffee and retail shop at 320 N. Coast Hwy. is now called Old House Garden Cafe. Its founder, Jon Madison, sold the business last month for a reported $5 million.

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In an interview Thursday, new owner Bill Fang said in Mandarin through a translator that he is planning to institute some minor changes but is listening to the community about what they like about Madison's original design, such as its garden with bubbling fountains and unique touches.

Fang first visited Madison Square for lunch about five years ago. He was attracted to the scenery and bustling Coast Highway. For him, Madison Square's location — a Craftsman bungalow built in the early 1900s — was mysterious and appealing.

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Madison Square & Garden Cafe is under new ownership. Its new name is Old House Garden Cafe.
Madison Square & Garden Cafe is under new ownership. Its new name is Old House Garden Cafe. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Aside from replacing some worn seating umbrellas, Fang didn't mention specifics about any design changes — nothing has really happened just yet — but said he loves the historical nature of the building. The 48-year-old is a father of three, lives in Irvine and owns a hot pot restaurant there.

As for his new business, he said he likes what's already there.

"When we come to Laguna, we are prepared to walk into the culture of Laguna, try to fit ourselves into the culture," he said.

Fang said he does plan to keep some menu items while adding new food that he described as more modern. He also plans to begin serving Peet's coffee instead of Diedrich — initially at half price as a thank you to the community.

Fang said online shopping has changed retail sales, so Old House Garden Cafe may offer fewer items than Madison Square did. He does want to offer custom items and souvenirs that only his shop offers.

Fang wasn't shy about his admiration for Laguna.

"I love this place, including the sun, the sky and the ocean," he said.

Madison Square & Garden Cafe, now Old House Garden Cafe, in Laguna Beach has a variety of eclectic art and goods for sale.
Madison Square & Garden Cafe, now Old House Garden Cafe, in Laguna Beach has a variety of eclectic art and goods for sale. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Twitter: @BradleyZint

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