Laguna Beach’s Watermarc restaurant closes its doors permanently

Watermarc announced its closure on Monday through its social media channels.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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Watermarc is closing.

The Laguna Beach restaurant at 448 S. Coast Hwy. made the announcement Monday that it would not be reopening, describing the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept through the country as “very difficult and unprecedented times.”

“I can’t tell you how distraught I am to announce that Watermarc Restaurant is now closed permanently. The staff, management and customers throughout the last 12 years have been amazing and I feel honored to have worked with such a great team of people,” Chef and owner Marc Cohen said in a statement.

The restaurant, which first opened its doors in 2009, closed its doors in response to social distancing mandates by the state in March. It was not offering take-out, delivery or pick-up because overhead costs would outweigh sales made during the closure period because of the way that the restaurant is set up, Cohen said.


“All kinds of things ... go into making the best business decision possible and there was no way that restaurant could pull itself forward. The numbers just did not work, so we made what was an unbelievably difficult decision, which was to close a successful restaurant we felt had good food and service,” he said.

Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce executive director Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold said, “We are saddened to see Watermarc permanently closed. I fear that without some out-of-the-box thinking by operators and city officials post COVID-19 we will see more of these closures.”

As the announcement was made, support came pouring in on Watermarc’s social media channels with many lamenting the closure of what commenters called their favorite restaurant, a destination and a tradition for when visiting the city.

“I’m extremely touched and honored that people consider us an integral part of the community and part of their lives,” said Cohen who also owns 230 Forest Avenue in Laguna and Opah Seafood Grill in Aliso Viejo.

“Our customers are our family. We know their kids. We know their families from different parts of the country. We take care of them every day and we consider them family,” Cohen said. “That’s kind of how we operate our restaurants, so I’m very touched by it and it makes us feel as though we need to continue to get back to doing what we’re doing.”

While 230 Forest Avenue and Opah remain closed, Cohen said that he hopes to open closer to when dine-in is possible and said he’d like to start offering takeout once it becomes more financially viable.

“We’re trying to make the best business decision moving forward without putting everybody in jeopardy,” he said. “I don’t want to put anybody who’s been here twenty years or one day in jeopardy. I want to make sure that customers are safe, the staff are safe. I feel that is my personal responsibility and I take it seriously.”

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