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2014 in business: Ritz, no; Triangle, yes; and beer

2014 in business: Ritz, no; Triangle, yes; and beer
Owner Greg Nylen, left, and manager Ryan Tillotson, stand behind a flight of their top five craft beers brewed onsite at the Barley Forge Brewery in Costa Mesa. (Don Leach, Daily Pilot)

The business community in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine has seen its share of challenges and successes in the past year. Here are some of the top stories about area businesses published in the Daily Pilot in 2014.

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The Ritz closes

Newport Beach's iconic restaurant The Ritz shut its doors near Fashion Island on Feb. 15 after a 37-year run. The Irvine Co. did not renew the restaurant's lease, deciding instead to convert the first-floor space for a different use.

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Revival of the Triangle

The Triangle in downtown Costa Mesa — which a few years ago was visibly short of tenants and customers, despite its bustling location — is now packed, thanks to two major additions in 2014: Costa Mesa 55 Tavern + Bowl and La Vida Cantina.

The tavern, which opened in February, brought bowling back to the city. La Vida, which had its grand opening in August, replaced El Corazón de Costa Mesa.

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The Triangle even had its own New Year's Eve party, dubbed XL NYE.

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Woodbridge center faces uncertainty

The once-bustling Woodbridge Village Center — one of the first shopping centers in Irvine's Woodbridge community — faced challenges in 2014. With businesses rapidly leaving the complex, its owner, the Irvine Co., plans to study the center's merchant mix, traffic and layout to decide how to revive it. However, some longtime residents worry that the center may be torn down and are fighting to save it.

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Dealership, neighborhood at odds

Relations between Costa Mesa's College Park neighborhood and an adjacent car dealership, Orange Coast Buick/GMC/Cadillac, crumbled during a construction project this past year. Orange Coast is building a new state-of-the-art facility on its Harbor Boulevard land, but the project involved demolition work that residents said damaged several homes.

The problems shocked city planning commissioners and led to a breakdown in community relations before a retired city official, Peter Naghavi, was hired to smooth things over. The dealership eventually got approval from the City Council, though not everyone was happy in the end.

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Barley Forge brings beer

Costa Mesa entered the commercial microbrewery scene with the November opening of Barley Forge Brewing Co. in the Sobeca District. The 10,000-square-foot brewery can make up to 30 barrels of beer a day.

Employees knew they were on to something when, after moving into their Randolph Avenue digs, they found a forging hammer on the roof similar to the blacksmith hammer in Barley Forge's logo.

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