Historic Stag bar rears its head again in Newport Beach


The Stag is back in Newport Beach.

Nine years after a new owner renamed and redecorated the Stag Bar, that same man has renovated the venue in the style of its early days and is set to reopen its doors in early December.

Built in 1908 and opened as a bar six years later, the Stag saw several changes throughout the years but none more noticeable than in 2006 when it was renamed The District Lounge.

Now, Mario Marovic is going back to the venue’s roots, complete with walls adorned with stag heads. He said he is keeping the original woodwork and the 100-foot bar — the longest in Newport Beach.

Marovic began reconstruction on the bar at 121 McFadden Place in Newport Beach about 10 months ago. While it remained open during most of that time, it has now been closed for about six weeks for the final touches.

There will be a few updates. The name is now Stag Bar + Kitchen — it will serve craft pizza — and the hotel above the bar has been renovated.

“We’re in the 11th hour,” said Marovic, the bar’s owner of nine years. “Even though it’s been a long process and we’ve met a lot of challenges, what we want most is to keep the historical integrity. It’s definitely a part of historic Newport Beach.”

While looking through old photos of the bar, Marovic remarked on the evolution of the bar’s atmosphere throughout the century.

“It looked a lot like a cowboy saloon in the ‘30s and ‘40s, with guns on the wall and everything,” he said. “The place was known for gambling and card games. In later years, it became more of a martini bar with the servers in tuxedos.”

While looking for ways to restore the location to its former rustic glory, Marovic purchased a gun rack at a flea market to hang on the wall. He said the rack looked similar to one he saw in some of the Stag’s old photographs.

Above the bar, the Stag Hotel once housed 11 rooms occupied by seasonal employees who came to the beach to work as lifeguards or restaurant workers during the summer, Marovic said.

The hotel now has eight rooms with upgraded amenities, including kitchenettes.

The Stag’s kitchen which will cook up craft pizza from 10 a.m. to midnight.

The bar will be open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, 365 days a year, according to Marovic, and happy hour prices are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.