Mailbag: From restaurant closures to new hotels, a lot is happening in Newport Beach

A rendering of RH Newport Beach, which is slated to open its doors at Fashion Island in 2024.
(Courtesy of the Irvine Co.)

Perhaps because I published a monthly printed newsletter called “Orange County Report” for over 15 years or perhaps because I wrote a weekly column for the “Daily Pilot” for many years, I want to know what is happening in Orange County. But today, because newspapers are strained for space and newsletters are scattered online, I have to rely on picking up this and that from friends.

For example, here is what is happening at Newport Center, the area I once referred to as downtown Newport Beach. First, the restaurants. Did anyone know that the beloved Cheesecake Factory, a fixture of Fashion Island for 30 years, is closing down on Feb. 19? The restaurant claims that a new lease for the space from the Irvine Co. is too expensive. Around the corner, California Pizza Kitchen is gone, and P.F. Chang’s claims it is hanging on.

Gone, too, with little note, is that once highly hyped Fig and Olive restaurant which had its own building in Newport Center. In its place, now under construction, will be a new restaurant called Ocean 48 — high-class seafood and prime steaks. Also in its own building, once occupied by Roy’s restaurant, is Joey’s Newport Beach, featuring “global cuisine,” which means ranging from sushi to tacos.

Finally, for years people have asked me why Newport Center does not have a restaurant with a view of the ocean, and that is coming. An elegant restaurant and wine bar, with a view of the ocean, will rest on the top floor of the under-construction four-story RH Newport in Fashion Island. RH will be a furniture gallery by Restoration Hardware. It is on the site of the former Forever 21 and scheduled to open in mid-2024.

And that is merely the restaurants. So much more is happening, from the conversion of the former Newport Beach Marriott to the swanky Vea Newport Beach hotel and the conversion of the former Four Seasons then Fashion Island Hotel into the really high-class Pendry, to the arrival of the Vivante Newport Beach, a home for seniors on the site of the Orange County Museum of Art. Next for Newport Center, with no date announced is the four-story Residences at Newport Center — 28 luxury condominiums on the site of the still-operating car wash.

Martin A. Brower
Corona del Mar

H.B. doesn’t need an open Main Street

Downtown Huntington Beach is a hodgepodge of outdoor dining and street vendors. However, returning Main Street to roaring motorcycles, parking meters and the like is a step backwards (Huntington Beach to reopen second block of Main Street to traffic, Daily Pilot, Jan. 18). I plan to speak at the next City Council meeting. It occurs to me the Daily Pilot is in a unique position to ask residents to show up and voice their opinions about this issue.

Armen Bagdasarian
Huntington Beach

The majority is no longer silent

Although it is an oft-repeated phrase in our culture, it is questionable now as to whether the “silent majority” still exists. It can be a comfort to some to believe that a majority of the people in our culture have opinions somewhere in the center of the ideological divide rather than at the extreme poles. But the more that we see the terms “divisive” and “conspiracy” being used, the more we have to wonder just how large that group in the center is. Also, it must be noted that people are not one dimensional and that all their views on individual topics may not be the same as those of the majority.

Patrice Apodaca in her column (Things are looking about the same in 2023, Jan. 29 Daily Pilot) gives us examples of issues that continue to divide us in the new year. She tells us to look only as far as our schools to find examples of “divisiveness, disinformation and dangerous nonsense.” School boards, she says, have become “unlikely battlegrounds in our nations increasingly vitriolic culture wars ... with showdowns over pandemic measures such as masking and school closures” and curriculum content.

In two local districts, the latest being Orange Unified School District, some board members abruptly fired their well-liked superintendent after making the decision behind closed doors, without all the board members being present. One highly regarded and long term school board member lost her position in the latest election by only a little more than 200 votes. Parents are already circulating recall petitions for members of the school board responsible. This will be the second recall in OUSD in the last 25 years.

Fortunately, in the case of OUSD, it seems like the majority is not remaining silent. They jumped into action as soon as they saw their district becoming the victim of a culture war that will likely prove to be the creation of extremist views.

On a personal level, as I have aged, I find myself feeling disappointed when people do not speak out over issues that seem so important to our society and to our democracy. When I was younger I avoided political discussions with friends and family, wanting to always be liked. But in these divisive times and as I have matured, I feel the urgency of standing up for my views.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

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