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SURFING SOAPBOX:As the town turns...

The wheels of Laguna commerce keep going round and round.

Now that Woody’s has been sold and El Ranchito has bought in, it may be said that this is the beginning of the end for the one-block section of Laguna Beach commonly known as the “gay” part of town.

This is the block that practically defined Laguna Beach throughout much of the ‘80s and into the ‘90s. I suppose our town is now, some would say, defined as the “MTV generation.”

Is the continued high-turnover rate here in Laguna Beach good for the town or bad?


Only time will tell.

The sale of the hotel Camino del Casa in recent years — which sits across the street from the restaurant soon to be formerly known as Woody’s — has been great.

The new owners took a struggling hotel and restaurant and turned it into one of the hippest places — not only in Laguna Beach — but in Orange County.

Upstairs, now known as the Roof Top, is a groovy place to go to have a drink and look at one of the best views Laguna Beach has to offer. This place has taken cool to a whole new level. It also has great food.


On the other side of the coin is the sale of the institution once known as the Royal Hawaiian, which now seems on the verge of being condemned, rather than a place doing business as a bar and restaurant.

The Jolly Roger, sadly enough for their loyal patrons, is gone as well — signaling the end of another long tradition here in Laguna Beach.

The same can be said for the once female-friendly surfing store “Girl in the Curl,” which seemed to close overnight.

In any event, what defines a great town are the people that live there and care about it, and this is one tradition in Laguna Beach that doesn’t need changing.







  • James Pribram is a Laguna Beach native, board member of Clean Water Now, professional surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at