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Javier’s reopens in Newport Beach after being closed for remodel

Guests enjoy the new dining and bar space at the remodeled Javier's in Newport Coast, Newport Beach.
Guests enjoy the new dining and bar space at the remodeled Javier’s in Newport Coast, Newport Beach.
(Don Leach/Daily Pilot)
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Over the past two weekends, guests have swarmed around the host podium outside Javier’s Restaurant in Newport Beach. Reservations are not required, but they are recommend since it seems everybody is interested in dining at the recently reopened elevated Mexican restaurant. Staff are calm and professional, and guests are mostly understanding and excited to be back as they wait to be seated.

Guests enjoy the new dining and bar space at the remodeled Javier's in Newport Beach.
(Don Leach/Daily Pilot)

Javier’s reopened on May 17, after being closed for nearly six months of remodeling at Crystal Cove Promenade on Pacific Coast Highway, where its neighbors are other highly lauded Orange County restaurants like Marché Moderne and A Crystal Cove. Late last year, Javier’s announced its plans to temporarily close its Newport Beach location for construction.

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“It was tough, but we knew the finished product was going to be worth it,” said Javier Sosa Jr., general manager and son of the restaurant’s namesake.

The renovated space now has a more open-air feel, with unobstructed views of the ocean.

“We are in an area by the ocean, we wanted to take advantage of that,” said Sosa. “At the same time we wanted to grow the restaurant a little more.”

The ceilings are a little higher, and the space is less dark and moody, with a color scheme that incorporates a lot of creamy off-white.

“The first difference people are going to notice are the colors,” said Sosa. “And obviously how much wider and brighter it is.”

The expansion has added roughly 50 to 60 seats to the restaurant. The small four-seater bar that used to sit in the corner of the dining room has moved to the center. The now 26-seat bar faces Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean.

Javier Sosa and his son Javier Jr. , from left, say hello to guests at the remodeled Javier's in Newport Beach.
(Don Leach/Daily Pilot)

Initially the restaurant had planned to open by March, but heavy rains set back construction, said Paul Kurz of PKJ Construction, Inc., who handled the remodel.

“We suffered a lot of rain delays in Southern California this year, which is abnormal for the area,” said Kurz. “So it took a little longer than normal.”

Kurz said he admires Javier’s vision and is pleased with the way it turned out. “It’s stunning; they really hit it out of the park with the resort feel,” he said.

The remodel also expanded the kitchen by lengthening the line with a new pantry and dessert station and adding equipment, like a steakhouse broiler, that Sosa said will help the kitchen be more efficient. Salsas are made fresh daily along with specialty dishes like a Trio de Enchiladas Del Mar, with each enchilada stuffed with shrimp or Dungeness crab or Maine lobster. Servers shuffle out countless ceviches and crudos, like Aguachile Del Rey, to waiting tables.

Guests enjoy the new bar space at the remodeled Javier's in Newport Beach.
(Don Leach/Daily Pilot)

The space and improvements are welcome for the kitchen that pushes out food for roughly 3,000 customers a night, Sosa said.

Javier Sosa Sr. first opened his namesake restaurant in 1995 in Laguna Beach, where it operated for 13 years. Javier’s opened a new location at the Irvine Spectrum in 2004 followed by the Crystal Cove restaurant and a space at the Cabo Azul Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2008. Today, the family operates four Southern California locations as well as the one in Mexico and a restaurant at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Javier’s Newport Beach is also open for lunch, and while it isn’t as overwhelmingly busy in the day as it tends to get at night, the parking lot is still full on a Friday afternoon.

“Ever since Javier’s opened again, it’s been like this,” a security guard in a golf cart at Crystal Cove Shopping Center said as cars circled for parking near the restaurant. Javier’s offers valet parking and a designated ride-share pick-up area. The security officer also offered rides on her golf cart to Javier’s guests, who parked at the end of the center.

Javier’s Restaurant isn’t just welcoming back excited guests either. Most of the staff who worked at the Newport Beach location before the closure have returned as well.

“We are definitely happy to be back,” said Francisco Del Carmen, who has worked as a server at Javier’s Newport Beach since 2017. “It’s great being back with my co-workers. We have a very strong bond, and seeing Javier Sr. come through that door, shaking hands with everyone from the valet to the front desk to the kitchen, and seeing Javier Jr. help us on the floor, those were the little things we were missing.”

Server Francisco Del Carmen shows one of the ceviche bowls at the remodeled Javier's in Newport Coast in Newport Beach.
Server Francisco Del Carmen shows one of the ceviche bowls at the remodeled Javier’s in Newport Beach.
(Don Leach/Daily Pilot)

Sosa said Javier Sr. kept staff paid during construction to ensure that most of them would return to their old jobs.

“We’ve had people who have been with Javier since 1995,” said Sosa. “I am happy to say that everyone came back.”

Sosa said the entire remodel was a labor of love, and while he is happy to see both guests and staff return, there is still room for improvement.

“We are still learning and we are still far from a perfect restaurant,” said Sosa. “But we never stop learning, and we are always trying to find ways to make things better.”

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