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Historical site plan revised

The first floor of the historical Heisler Building will be split between a Tommy Bahama restaurant and merchandise, if a revised proposal is approved by the city.

Property owner Sam Goldstein has submitted a proposal that reduces the retail space already approved for Tommy Bahama from 5,000 square feet to less than half that, allowing space for the restaurant.

The new proposal will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at the March 10 meeting.

“I’m just glad they are in,” said Goldstein, who recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the brand.


In the proposed plan, 42% of the 5,762-square-foot first floor will be retail and 58% will be devoted to the restaurant, which will include a kitchen, storage areas and restrooms.

The original application did not include the space formerly occupied by Soul to Soul, a shoe store. City staff is recommending support of the proposal, but the staff report is not yet available.

Goldstein wants to put the restaurant at Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway, with the retail section at the south end of the building.

No plans have been announced for the second floor, originally proposed and approved for a restaurant, which Goldstein said posed no problem with his first-floor tenant.


“They don’t care as long as it’s not the same atmosphere and menu,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein bought the building in 2006. Demolition began in 2007, but reconstruction didn’t begin until May 2009, Goldstein said.

“I didn’t have a real game plan until then,” Goldstein said.

The building housed the Jolly Roger on the ground floor for years, and a variety of eating and drinking establishments came and went upstairs, most recently a microbrewery and restaurant.

“Construction on the building started in 1890, and from the beginning there was a restaurant,” Goldstein said.

It is an E-rated building, which means it has exceptional historical value to the city. Goldstein said the Tommy Bahama’s in Newport Beach is the closest one to Laguna.

“Thirty or 40% of the Newport business is from Laguna,” Goldstein said. “People I know are thrilled they won’t have to go to the Avocado [street location of the Newport store and restaurant] any more.”

The Tommy Bahama brand has been owned since 2003 by Oxford Industries Inc., headquartered in Atlanta.


Besides clothing, the brand’s third-party licenses include producers of watches, belts, socks, bedding and bath linen, outdoor and indoor furniture, ceiling fans, luggage, and table accessories.