Returning the love

HB Independent

Huntington Beach has already been good to Sandy's Beach Grill in the few weeks since it opened. And Friday, the beachside restaurant returned the favor.

The eclectic restaurant by the Huntington Beach Pier had barely opened its doors when a panel of judges awarded it the top prize at the Taste of Huntington Beach on April 25. Sandy's, the latest project of TS Restaurants, won the Best Taste 2010 award for its Cajun lamb chop with yogurt topping.

Friday, TS Restaurants, which oversees 14 locations in California and Hawaii, hosted a grand opening for Sandy's, inviting the public, the media and city officials to sample its cuisine. All proceeds went to the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards program, which trains kids ages 9 to 17 in water safety and environmental hazards.

By the time the last patron left Friday, Sandy's had racked up $2,150 in scholarship money for the Friends of the Junior Guards, the program's fundraising arm. Kyle Lindo, the city's marine safety chief who oversees the Junior Lifeguards program, said every contribution helps.

"The current state of the economy has made some of those scholarships difficult to come by," he said. "We don't want to see anyone who's qualified and capable excluded from the program due to financial need."

Sandy's Beach Grill, which resides downstairs from its sister restaurant, Duke's Huntington Beach, took over the space vacated last year by Chimayo at the Beach. Regional Manager Graham Saxten said opening a new restaurant was a risk during hard economic times, but the seaside location proved too good to miss.

"I think there's some risk there, but this spot was a proven spot," he said.

Sandy's, which has an eclectic menu including French, Pacific and other cuisines, features an open-air patio that overlooks the waves. The restaurant got an artistic assist from Andy Davis, a San Diego-based surf wear designer who provided wall paintings and helped create the Sandy's logo. Saxten said the restaurant may also bring in live music in the coming months.

Matt Liffreing, marketing director of the Huntington Beach Restaurant Assn., said Sandy's should have no trouble finding a following given its spot.

"That is a wonderful location, and having their sister restaurant on top now, it's that one-two downtown paradise punch," he said. "Having Sandy's Beach Grill there now is not just a wonderful complement to downtown Huntington Beach, but also to the Orange County dining scene."

Sandy's Beach Grill Where: 315 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington BeachHours: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and SaturdayCuisine: EclecticContact: (714) 374-7273

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