HUNTINGTON BEACH : Coastal Panel OKs Restaurant on Pier

Plans to build a Ruby’s Surf City Diner at the pier’s end received California Coastal Commission approval Thursday.

“Piers are near and dear to us,” said Doug Cavanaugh, co-founder and president of The Ruby Restaurant Group, which will lease the building from the city.

“It will complete the link between Seal Beach Pier and Balboa Pier.”

The first Ruby’s Diner opened in December, 1982, at the end of Balboa Pier. Of the 18 Southern California Ruby’s Diners, 13 are in Orange County, including restaurants on Balboa and Seal Beach piers.


Construction is expected to begin early next year with opening targeted for June, Cavanaugh said.

The commission approved a 45-foot high, two-story, 6,510-square-foot restaurant, which will be octagon-shaped with a red tile roof. Cavanaugh said the restaurant’s interior will have a surfing theme.

“It’s going to have a phenomenal view,” Cavanaugh said.

Coastal Commission staff previously had recommended that the restaurant height be a maximum of 35 feet, but agreed to 45 feet after meeting with city staff.


Ron Hagan, Huntington Beach community services director, said that 45 feet is needed so plumbing and other equipment can be placed on the pier, rather than underneath the pier where it would be exposed to wave damage. The height also allows for screening of unsightly ventilation and other equipment, he said.

Bill Bernard, a board member of Huntington Beach Tomorrow, a citizens group, told the commission that the building height should be 35 feet to minimize negative effects on public views.

A snack shop and bait and tackle shop on the pier were also approved. A new lifeguard tower and restrooms on the pier have already been approved by the Coastal Commission.

Hagan said the cost to build all five buildings on the pier is estimated at nearly $2 million. But the city has only $1.3 million to construct the pier buildings.


The cost to build Ruby’s alone is estimated at $1.2 million, he said. Ruby’s will be built first since guaranteed income to the city from lease and tax revenue is estimated at $150,000 a year, Hagan said.

Under the approved plan, Ruby’s will validate tickets for customers who park in the city’s downtown parking structure.