Property owner wants to bring back the Royal Hawaiian restaurant in Laguna Beach

The exterior of the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach in 1998.

The exterior of the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach in 1998.

(Al Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Laguna Beach resident Mo Honarkar wants the city to have a Royal Hawaiian again.

The owner of the North Coast Highway property that once housed the famed Royal Hawaiian restaurant, noted for its tropical drinks, has plans for a “chic” eatery specializing in seafood.

And it would be called the Royal Hawaiian. The former restaurant by the same name shuttered four years ago after 65 years in business and has been vacant ever since.

Honarkar, who owned the famed Heisler building in downtown Laguna before current owner Sam Goldstein bought it, purchased 331 N. Coast Hwy. about a year ago with hopes of restoring it to life.

“I loved the [Royal Hawaiian]. I’d been there many times,” Honarkar, who has lived in Laguna since 2000, said in a phone interview last week. “It’s a unique property. North Laguna is underserved as far as restaurants.”


Honarkar wants to create an open-air dining area — within the building’s existing framework — facing North Coast Highway to complement indoor seating.

Honarkar called on architect Morris Skenderian to lead the remodel, which would include a refurbished kitchen, according to a conceptual plan submitted to the city.

“From a character standpoint, it will be a woodsy, industrial look,” Skenderian said, adding that he wants to enhance some of the building’s existing features.

For example, the building currently has one large gable roof point, where two sloping sides come together, Skenderian said. He wants to add two more points.

Skenderian said that with initial feedback from the city, plans are being refined. The Planning Commission would eventually review the project.