Blue Beet Nightclub Could Reopen Soon

The venerable Blue Beet nightclub may reopen in as soon as two weeks, now that the city has agreed its owner doesn't have to bring the 1912 building up to current standards.

Owner Sid Soffer had been fighting with the city, which said he or whoever he sold the restaurant to would have to get a new operating permit to reopen the landmark establishment at the Newport Pier.

Soffer said potential buyers were scared off by the prospect of having to bring the aging facility up to current building codes to get the permit. But the city Planning Department relented Wednesday and sent Soffer a letter saying the Blue Beet met exceptions to its requirements: that the type of business conforms with others in the district; that Soffer made a substantial investment to refurbish the restaurant after a 1986 fire; and that he has maintained the location and tried to find buyers for the business while it was closed.

Soffer opened the Blue Beet in 1960, naming it for the blues played there and the beat of those tunes. He spelled it "beet" to advertise its restaurant side.

Soffer has sold the bar to a group that includes Newport Beach businessman Steve Lewis, who was a partner in the operation in 1981. If no one disputes the city's approval of the bar's operating permit within two weeks, it can reopen.

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