Coast Inn During Smith Family Ownership
Article: Hotel (Coast Inn) Soon To Build For $20,000
My grandfather, John “Pappy” Smith to many, just bought land to build his own hotel. My guess is he wants to move from Victorville so he can move his 5 children and wife, Caroline, to live under one roof. I think he owned the historical Hotel Stewart near the train station in Victorville while his family lived in Redding. My dad remembered the famous dog staying at this hotel, Rin Tin Tin. Dad, Dick Smith, is just 15 while his little sister is only 5 now. This venture is to hold great promise for this hard working family. A block north the new hotel, Casa Del Camino is almost ready for it’s grand opening. This structure cost $75,000 and was only open summers in the beginning.
Fortunately,Dave Anderson posted this photo below on Facebook. Reality sets in as this is what the road looked like towards Laguna Canyon. This sure shows me what vision my grandparents must have had in 1928. Wish I could ask them so many questions now.
3 Ledgers Entered
Refuse Permit; Permit Issued; Plans Found To Be Too Far Over Bluff. Looks to me like a structure still had to go through the “process” with the city before one could build. Reality of 1929 however says from time of purchase, of permits, of construction to open house was 6 months long. When Steven Udar-Hazy purchased about 2005, his process to approval to build was at least 5 years.
Article: City receives $34,360 for permits for one month
I can only guess but that one article says the cost to construct the Coast Inn would be about $20,000. So $20,000 is the potential valuation given by the city on this project. The project on Aster was given the potential of maybe $14,000 valuation. Love these interesting little details.
Another detail to just note in general is that before my grandfather bought the land, it sat inside the Arch Beach town until the city incorporated in 1927. So even though Pappy bought this land while it is in Laguna Beach, some articles may refer to Arch Beach. You will also notice the street name was Cypress originally, later to be changed to Mountain Road.
Advertisement For Coast Inn
Looks like it is already close to opening day. Imagine my grandparents’ excitement. They are building a suite of 4 rooms on top of the first floor over looking what they called Coast Highway. The road out their window is only dirt but they don’t care. Mom and Dad are finally together to help raise the 4 teenage boys and their young daughter. It’s been a long journey for them, 16 years of kids. And the boys will be helping them perform the daily chores soon. NOTE: The article says how Grandpa built the stairs to the ocean to be used by not only guests but by anyone wanting to take a swim. Note with me how his community spirit began here and can be noted throughout and to the current history of the Coast Inn.
Advertisment: Coast Inn Opening
The wonderful Casa Del Camino is open and busy. The Coast Inn may not have the same splendor but the one big difference are the front rooms built over the cliffs with a panoramic view of the ocean. At this stage the front of the hotel is only 3 stories. The article says “maid service”- my guess is my grandmother was the key worker. She told me how they would strip the beds and throw them over to the sidewalk below. Then bundle them together in time for pick up from a Santa Ana cleaning company.
Lynn Watkins was the Plaster contractor. He is a name I have known all my life here in Laguna. The article also states: “Those who had contracts in erecting of the building were the Smith Brothers, the general contractor. William Kindell, plumbing: Kenneth Browne, painting”.
Rates are $3.00 for one person and $4.50 for two people. Includes breakfast and free parking. Phone number is 1292.
Article: Need For More Rooms, Need Sewer However
Only took a couple months for the Smith family to realize the Inn needed more rooms. One item in front of them that was a challenge was the need for sewer. Thus plans to add the second story between the front hotel rooms and Grandpa’s suite began. So the 1926 paved road through Laguna Beach ended right here, right at Cypress (Mountain Rd.). The road further south was dirt, as was Cypress down to the ocean cliff.
Olympic Village Moved to Laguna
Grandpa bought at least one of the Olympic Cottages. I read somewhere he bought a few and used them somehow, but I didn’t find anything to be clear. He placed the cottage off the highway. As you look at the photo, you can see it on the land where the liquor store now sits. How did Grandpa know to buy this block of land across from the hotel back in 1929? They had the depression to wrestle with back then. It wasn’t until the ’50s and a major fire that Grandpa built the liquor store, thus moving the cottage off of PCH on to Mountain Rd. This cottage was leased several times; I have an article I need to find that a movie star opened a Hawaiian dress shop here. Thank you Carolyn Hobert Fisch for finding this great old article and a great thanks to your dad for saving it.
Article: More improvements for the Coast Inn
Last year Pappy finally added on ten additional upstairs rooms. Anyone who has stayed in one notes just how compact the size is but it still remains very popular today. Notice the bill to build and the note finally being paid off in full. I often wonder what the almost $3,000 bill felt like back then compared to bills of today.
The NOTE to pay for these side rooms didn’t take long for Caroline Smith to write a check to pay off. $2,924.47
Article: Laguna’s First Liquor License
Pappy applied for and received his liquor license. By this time the Smith family knew other establishments that wanted a liquor license. The Spigot received their license just 2 years later in 1935. Well Bernard, youngest of the 4 brothers, held a long standing debate with Cactus as to who was the first liquor license owner in Laguna. This article promotes the Coast Inn has two firsts: Liquor license and subscription to the South Coast News.
Kelly Ware is Cactus Ware’s son and friend to Dick’s kids. So Kelly and Carolyn are able to enjoy this two family debate while talking and fondly sharing the history news from the 1930s on. One topic is the dirt road in front of both buildings. And Kelly’s grandfather built a free standing liquor store while Pappy housed his liquor store in the lobby of his hotel. Either way, apparently both businesses have flourished for years.
Article: Pappy Asks The City To Improve The Ocean Bluffs
Article: Locking Wheels in the Foggy Laguna Canyon
Back in the ’30s, Laguna Canyon would get sock in with fog. This one evening offered a surprise. Pappy & Caroline hosted a 21st birthday party for their second son, Karl. When finished, Karl drove off with friends as did my grandmother with her lady friends. On the way home, these two cars locked wheels in the canyon filled with fog. Caroline and her lady friends were injured. Back in those days the doctor was Vincent Carroll, so Karl got the ladies in his car and to Dr. Carroll for treatment. They never told us of this accident so what a surprise for me to read.
Opening Of South Seas Bar
This is a 1950 article that states Pappy opened the South Seas bar in 1936. I know he got his liquor license in 1933 and he sold bottles of liquor from the hotel. Also of interest is WHERE the South Seas was located. We all know the beach bar as the room closest to the ocean. However, back in the early years I am not sure what was in this area. He originally opened this famous bar in the room above. You can see the signage when looking close at the photo. So the South Seas, home to many marines, remained upstairs till maybe the fire of the whole front area in 1956? And the room closest to the beach maybe was the Palm Garden & Dinning in 1941, and finally the Coffee Pot 1950 until the fire? Appears so, anyone know?
Article: Pappy on a Shopping Spree
1941 marks a new era for the Coast Inn. The eating area and the South Seas has now been decorated into its ever long popular Polynesian style or Tiki. If my family is correct, Grandpa got the idea when he used to own and work in Long Beach. So the fish are truly swimming around under the glass of the bar. And the Abel family is truly beginning its significance with the Coast Inn. The colored article states the mural was carved by Bobbie, which they mean Mogens. This couple was like my second family so I saw them often in the ’50s on.
The colored brochure shows off the extra large carving of Mogens Abel that hung at the end of the South Seas both in the upstairs then downstairs location. I am sure other works of the Abel’s were around as well. And in 1956, we will mention Pop’s second son, Chris Abel. And you will find a story by Chris’s son, Gregg. Relationships ran deep back in those days and continue today.
Marines And Servicemen Love Enjoying Home Away From Home
During the war the Coast Inn was one hotel, bar, restaurant and beach that the servicemen would frequent in Laguna. It was so popular I heard stories of ladies flying from NYC for a weekend of fun. I have talked to a couple of guys who reminisce their time here with the fondest of memories. Now that I see how community oriented my grandparents were, I can only imagine the joy they felt watching these young men restore their spirits before getting back to duty.
As you see in these two photos, the South Seas Bar here was before the bay windows were constructed. The palm trees keep the theme of The Palm garden and dining room on the next level down. This era holds many memories and I hope I hear from others who have stories. I happen to have one such story written by the daughter of Ruth, who loved her days as a waitress in South Seas. Enjoy.
Article: Fundraising In South Seas Bar
Karl, Grandpa’s second son, lives on TOW with his 3 kids. One of his three children, Suzie Smith, has developed polio as a young child. She even has to stay in a lung chamber. Pappy made it an event to ask for donations for the March of Dimes. In this case they collected $689.09 and took the money to Bank of America, which back then was on the corner of PCH & Forest Ave. It must have worked out for Suzie as she grew up a healthy young lady and was even a LBHS cheerleader in the early ’50s.
Article: Coffee Shop in the Coast Inn
Another era for 1950. An all electric Coffee Pot shop. As you see in the photo of the Coast Inn off Mountain Road, the Coffee Pot sign looks like it is located closer to the beach with the South Seas Bar remaining up from it as it has been since it open in 1936. Grandpa talks about the lobby, probably off of PCH, and opening areas so one can pass through to the bar and to the Coffee Pot. The second article mentions two eating places, so this is unclear for me as yet.
Pappy Buys 4 Lots To Build Another Hotel
I think Pappy felt the need for some siesta time. He likes the desert heat and Calexico/Mexicali beer. He bought 4 lots from the Church for $3,000. He built what is now known as the El Rancho Motel. Uncle Bernard, the 4th son, is to run this business. By this time, Uncle Bernard has 6 kids. My dad had built his family home for his 4 kids on TOW in 1949. And his friend, Chris Abel, gave Dick his first independent architect plans. So it only made sense to use these same plans for the new house in Calexico, just had to add additional bed rooms. Well, this quickly became a favorite destination because all the cousins loved playing in the pool.
And does anyone else note? The main lobby, does it not look like a Chris Abel building? How about the extra large mural? Could it be another Mogens Abel beautifully carved piece? Please, give me feedback.
Coast Inn’s Annual May 1st Beach Party
During the decade of the ’50s, the Coast Inn hosted beach parties in May. What fun! And what a great way to advertise. A stage was built for live entertainment with food provided when hungry. Back in the ’50s, a little fire and a little alcohol seem to go a long way. In 1956 the ocean had swept away most of the sand. No problem. The sand was brought up to the parking lot, the new lot just paved back then behind the new liquor store. And so the fun continued.
Pappy’s 2 Hotels Value at $283,000
The value at this time of Pappy’s Coast Inn and El Rancho Motel came out to $283,000. Looks like I misplaced the article however I did read it.
No Dancing For 2 Years
I didn’t find documentation as to when dancing started at the Coast Inn, but a Land Use Ordinance ordered that dancing STOP. It stopped for two years before the council allowed the fun to start back up. It makes sense that dancing would be a part of this establishment for many reason. One is my mom and dad met at the ballroom on Main beach and married in 1941. So I am glad dancing is back in.
The Front Area Of The Coast Inn Caught Fire
The fire department has told me they have the article of this fire. It is somewhere and I hope someday I will have the newspaper article to post. Grandma and Grandpa no longer lived in the suites upstairs. Their 5 kids were well on their own. The changes as a result is what I and many are familiar with seeing. But first, the tear down stage begins as shown below.
Question: Does anyone know if the coffee shop photo (below) was taken before or after the fire?
Abel Family Contribution
This very talented and artistic family has contributed to the Smith family off and on for years. Carl “Pop” Abel moved his family to Laguna Beach from Denmark. Pop Abel’s high school friend soon followed. Eiler Larson lived in a basement next to the Abel’s adjoining courtyard. The 1939 directory shows their address as 1757 which means they lived just south of the Coast Inn. With only a population of 4,500 back in the ’40s, it was easy to find friends. What did Pappy and Pop have in common? They both had 5 kids, both bought Olympic Cottages and they embraced the spirit of community. Pop’s oldest son, Mogens, is the one holding the first makeshift statue of Eiler. I also added a carving of Mogens so you could see up close his outstanding work of art. The beautiful murals Mogens did for the Coast Inn don’t show so well in the photos in the South Seas bar. My parents were especially close with Mogens, and in my mind he was my second dad. He was always greeted by my big 5 year old bear hug, legs and all. Pop’s second son, Chris, took his talent by way of becoming not just an architect, but a famous architect. Chris helped my family design the front of the hotel after the fire and the original Coast Inn Liquor Store in 1956. To top off all this talent, Chris gifted my parents with plans for their first home on TOW in 1949. In my last photo, you can see some of Chris’s famous wood work in my home behind my dad and Uncle Karl.
Next in the line of Abel talent is Chris’s son, Gregg, and Gregg’s son Tristan. Tristan and Gregg will be replacing my dad’s signage on TOW, a wood carving Mogens did some 40 years ago. They will also create a sign recognizing my dad for the new pathway to the fire road. So three generations of friendships doing some business together with community in mind. Always works for me.
Remodel Complete And A New Liquor Store Added
Chris Abel helped the Smith family again. I have to say out loud that it looks like Grandpa may have been on a budget with the redo of the Coast Inn? Or they really wanted to update the building Chris style? It has taken away from the early days of Spanish Colonial. The one thing that remains intact is my grandparents’ community spirit. As you read our history, my hope is that this thread stands out for you.
As you look at the photo, now it is easy for me to point out that the front area off PCH was dining with the sophisticated dark bar, the Tap Room. This restaurant became known for the great food that Charlie, our chief, provided. We loved his breakfast on Sunday, with lines to get in way out the door. Upstairs became business suites leased to different businesses. Go down more steps that eventually lead into the South Seas Bar. The room in the middle served as an extra dining area/game room. Notice you no longer see the sign “Coffee Pot.” The bars both still had the famous fish bar and the Polynesian theme.
And Grandpa’s newest addition, the Coast Inn Liquor Store, is the Chris Abel design that was splendid back then. The beautiful wood “stood out” both inside and out and just invited so many patrons. Grandpa moved the Olympic Cottage on to Mountain Rd. where we now see it and he paved some more parking spaces behind the liquor store. I don’t know when the parking meters on Mountain Rd. were installed, but I do know my dad complained of not enough parking spaces, which this problem only increased with the years.
Coast Inn Restaurant Leased To Bob Boyd
It was around this time Bob Boyd leased the restaurant and managed it for the Smith family. Before coming to the Coast Inn, Bob ran his French restaurant downtown. I am in hopes that those who worked during any of the years will share their stories. I have heard so many good ones. My two school friends worked here during their high school years, Bob’s son, Kelly Boyd, and my neighbor Sidney Bryan. They assisted the waitresses for about 4 years, till graduation in 1962. Another classmate joined them, Jan van Thillo, originally from Belgium. I hope when you read the “blog” section you will read different people’s experiences. I think it is fun to realize that back in this era like the decades before, employing younger teens was a joy to everyone and they seemed to take their given tasks seriously. Of course, they loved their tip money.
Sold El Rancho Motel To A High School Friend
Who remembers Mona Lee Harris? She went to high school in Laguna with the first few years graduating classes. Interesting she decided to move to Calexico and bought grandpa’s hotel. I believe that is Mona on the phone in the extra large lobby. I remember the lobby has the same carpet we put in our 1949 home on TOW. And I never noticed till now, could the lobby be a Chris Abel design? Could the large mural in the back of the lobby be a Mogens Abel wood carving?
New Partnership Agreement
Pappy initiated a new agreement with his adult children. Lessor is the Smith Hotel Company (includes Pappy & Caroline with their 5 kids). Lessee is the Coast Inn (includes just Dick and Karl). Lessee is to manage the hotel, 2 bars, restaurant, Olympic Cottage and the new liquor store. They will each receive $150 a week plus 10% in commissions of sales.
Typical Coast Inn Restaurant Days
These photos show the look of the inside restaurant for years. I believe the office may have been removed but the dining continued until Patrick and James changed this area in 2000. The first couple photos show the small office room to check in hotel guests. Does anyone remember Joyce Maxwell? She worked for Uncle Karl for years. She was tall with dark hair and everyone loved her, the host with the most. You could find her here and when the dining room filled up, she would jump in to be the host to sit people, to clean their tables, fill the glasses with water or get them drinks from the tap room on the other side of the wall. And what few knew, she took care of the books for Uncle Karl as well as maintenance for the hotel rooms. She simply was the best.
A couple photos show how we used to have a fireplace; it really added to the ambiance, I thought. And the far back left are the men/women’s rooms. Who remembers those tiny bathrooms? The kitchen photo I think might be my cousin Debbie as she worked as a waitress for awhile. Many of us did. It was my turn after three years of college and before marriage in 1964 & 1965. The one photo is probably obvious, a family gathering. Looks like we were sitting in the second room down from the dining room. It is my mother’s family members about 1966. And those captain chairs, I still have a set of 8 in my garage.
Pappy Passed Away At Age 79
It’s been a challenge to find accurate information. For Grandpa, he was born 8/1/1881 and passed 2/17/1961, so just shy of living 80 years. He and Grandma married in 1912, Feb. 3rd. So they were married for 49 years. Which means he did not marry until he was 30 years old. Grandma was 5 years younger. They drove their 4 boys, age 5 and younger, from Michigan to Southern California in 1918, when my dad, Dick Smith, was just 5 years old. It was another 10 years before building in Laguna Beach. The “Treasure Map” tracking Grandpa’s career hung in the Liquor Store. At some point, I will attempt to capture it. His achievements are very impressive to me.
Another interesting find is his Death certificate states he was born in England but a search was initiated in 1940 as to if his birth place was New York. Then in 1943, a notarized statement from his parents in Bangor, Michigan, states Pappy was born in West Walworth, which is near Rochester, New York. His dad was named Edgar – I always wondered why my dad’s middle name was Edgar.
Grandpa wasn’t baptized until July 31, 1911 and he married Caroline about 6 months later. He must have converted to Catholic because he wanted to marry her. Growing up, I wondered why he didn’t go to church with us, but Grandma made sure everyone was raised Catholic, often going to the best in Catholic schools. I wasn’t close to Pappy like I was my grandma but I so respected him. He didn’t converse much with us children, but I felt his kindness. I felt safe and well cared for even at a bit of a distance.
Caroline Passed Away At Age 82
Throughout putting all this together, it is common for me to see errors. Her driver’s license states she was born in 1896, but I have her documents stating 1886. She was baptized on Aug. 11 but in 1886. Here on Grandma’s Social Security card, her middle name is Ann, but it is not. Her middle name is Mary. Both my cousin a year older than me and I took on her name except I am Carolyn in spelling and my cousin is Mary. We used to spend countless hours with Grandma in her 2 bedroom cottage on Anita Street. We played lots of card games like canasta, ate the best tasting molasses cookies from Trotters and combed & braided each others hair. I have to admit, I took the ocean for granted since I grew up in such a wonderful family.
Grandma was a Fochtman born in Petoskey, Michigan. She was a very very strong woman that I deeply admired and love tremendously.
Raising The Sign (Coast Inn Liquor)
Coast Inn Liquor – My dad was so excited to have this new sign that he took several pictures May 5th, 1971 of it being erected on top of his liquor store. However, at some point, the city told everyone in town that neon signs were to come down. The most memorable loss was the ever so popular long history red neon sign on top of the Hotel Laguna. Many of us still miss this sign; few even remember my dad’s sign. Thank goodness for photos.
Fire Marshal Inspection Of South Seas Bar
The fire marshal was requested to inspect the South Seas for over crowding. This is the same period of time that, if my family is correct, the bartender of the Little Shrimp a block north came to my Uncle Karl and asked for a job at South Seas. People often follow their favorite bartender so eventually a line outside just to get into South Seas began to develop. So 38 years after opening the South Seas, the crowds have come, much like they did for Charlie’s breakfast in the ’50s with lines out the door. Of course, realize the population is pushing toward 15,000 residents at this point. Still, that had to make the Smith family proud. Sidney Bryan, my neighbor/friend/classmate, told me the line was happening as the gays were beginning to join the locals. I have had many others tell me the same. Happy South Seas bartenders!!!!
Another Fire Marshall Inspection
The Fire Marshall filled out the paperwork calling the South Seas Bar the Boom Boom Room. No permit was found to rename the South Seas Bar to the name Boom Boom Room. No ads were found using the name Boom Boom Room while under the ownership and management of Dick and Karl Smith. So perhaps this was a favorite nickname among the bar patrons that caught on at this time?
Laguna Beach Celebrates 50 Years
I love this old newspaper I have where the city is proudly celebrating 50 years since it was incorporated in 1927. Now last June 2017 the city celebrated 100 years by gathering together at city hall. Many residence came to hear a few history stories and to toast this proud moment. Our church near city hall is celebrating 100 years and in May 2019 the Coast Inn can be grateful to still be alive at 100 years old. I like how the newspaper captured many businesses in town. And, as a granddaughter, I read this article with lots of pride in my heart. So enjoy with me the long standing history of the Smith story and their Coast Inn.
Coast Inn After Smith Family Ownership
Coast Inn Sold to Sidney Bryan
Sidney Bryan (Coast Inn Management Corp.) purchases the Coast Inn establishment from the Smith Hotel Company (Dick, Karl, Bernard, Bob & Betty) releasing the Lessees Dick and Karl Smith. I do remember dad saying how tired he was. He worked the shift till 2:00 am for years. He and Karl were both more then ready, age 66/65, to retire.
It is under Sid’s ownership that ads were used carrying the name “Boom Boom Room” forward. Sid eventually changed the menu naming the popular burger “Boom Boom.” Sid worked along side his mom and sister, Becky, carrying on the family ownership style of management while highlighting community spirit as did my family. He continued to cater to the already established clientele of locals and businesses in town while encouraging the gay community to enjoy the South Seas Bar now known as the Boom Boom Room. Sid contracted with Morris Skendarien to enhance the dance floor. He also added the colorful painted tile that is close to the entrance of the office upstairs. Sidney figures it wasn’t until 1984 or so, some 6 years after his purchase, that he notes the Coast Inn is now predominately a gay community. See his letter below.
NOTE: Karl & Dick carried the NOTE for Coast Inn Management Corp that was paid in full 5-18-1988.
Sold To John Halderman
John Halderman (JTC Laguna Resorts) purchases The Coast Inn from Sidney Bryan (Coast Inn Management Corp.).
Note: $169,000 note is transferred from Sidney Bryan to JTC Laguna Resorts as my parents, Dick and Pat Smith, are carrying this note. This NOTE is a separate and second NOTE. The first NOTE was paid off in 1988, which was between Dick, Karl and Sidney. The second NOTE was between Dick & Pat and Sidney that carried over to John with some renegotiations. John paid back my parents in full in 1996.
To me, this is another great example as to how my family ran their business throughout the history of the Coast Inn. Dad was 83 by the time he was fully released from any financial ties to the Coast Inn. He continued being available for support, encouragement and great chats however until probably within a short period of his passing in 2006. Pete remembers his last meal in the Boom Cafe and, even though Dad was in a wheel chair, Pete offered to take him upstairs for one last look around. Dad was nearly 93 years of age when he passed.
Nabil Rayes Purchases Coast Inn Liquor Store
Nabil Rayes purchases the Coast Inn Liquor store from Sidney Bryan (Coast Inn Management Corp.).
Last and Remaining Employee of The Coast Inn
Pete Mihalek was hired by John in 1998 as the laundry worker. As the years roll on and under the 5 different owners, Pete is now operations manager. Many of us have no idea as to the mountain of tasks that Pete performs. No one, including myself, has any idea just how complex the inside is after years of changes. Just one change Pete mentions is the telephone wires to each room. The most important is the plumbing and electrical system. The Smith family usually had someone like Pete, who works with his heart making sure the details are dealt with correctly to keep this very old building in running order. Pete loves the Coast Inn and I love talking to Pete.
Sold To James Marchese & Patrick O’Laughlin
James Marchese and Patrick O’Laughlin (Boom Boom Resorts Corp.) purchased the Coast Inn establishment from JTC Laguna Resorts.
The restaurant known as the Coast Inn restaurant is now changed to the Boom Cafe. James managed the restaurant and played an excellent host. Dad and I ate their often, both dinner and breakfast. Yummy food. We always looked forward to our conversations with James who loved the Smith history. This was such a well deserved compliment for Dad. If he wasn’t too busy as host, James would sit with us. James confided in us he wanted to see if he could patent the name “Boom Boom Room” and open up other establishments.
I think what I loved the most about these owners were the love of our hotel. They were so complimentary and respectful of my dad. I was glad to see the community spirit still flowing everywhere, which I was accustomed to seeing even as a young girl. Thus my heart felt full. I was sad to see these owners go.
Sold to Carey Glen & Partner
Carey Glen & Partner, Main Beach Reality, purchase the Coast Inn establishment from James Marchese and Patrick O’Laughlin, Boom Boom Resorts, Corp.
Note: Carey Glen & Partner only owned the Coast Inn for 6 months.
I never met this new owner; everything moved pretty quickly with another sell 6 months later.
Sold to Steven Udar-Hazy
Steven Udar-Hazy purchased the Coast Inn establishment from Carey Glen, Main Beach Realty. He also purchased the liquor store from Nabil Rayes. Nabil Rayes continued on to manage his store till he retired in 2015.
I was invited to meet with the architect, Morris Skenderian, and the new owner, Steven Udar-Hazy, which began our 5 year journey together. Morris was very eager and up for the challenge to remodel my family’s old but faithful hotel, keeping true to the historic structure. What took my grandfather about 6 months after he purchased the land to construct a finish building took all of 5 years for Hazy to finally get full approval in order to even begin construction. I don’t even know how to compare the costs to get to this point. Permits, plans, meetings, decisions. And then to build. It cost my grandfather $20,000 in 1929 to build the original structure. And the potential cost just to remodel? This 5 year process wasn’t easy and met with objections, etc. Hazy met with and satisfied the neighbors, the city process as well as the coastal commission. I was also happy with his plans.
The city and Steven Udar-Hazy had noted the significance of the gay community and decided on honoring their time at the Coast Inn with a plaque along with the Smith ownership. At the last city council meeting, it was agreed upon by the owner Hazy and the city to include building a wine bar instead of an area designated as commercial. The article below tells how the meeting went as some people attending this meeting wanted to honor the period of time of the gay community as the “oldest longest continuous gay bar in the Western United States”. Kelly Boyd, our current Mayor for the year 2018, is quoted and gives a good look at Laguna’s gay history. The next article supports what Kelly says at this meeting.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Steven Udar-Hazy had to sell. He sold to Chris & Marcella Dornin in 2013.
Below are the architect plans Hazy settled on through his process that took 5 years to reach approval.
Boom Boom Room Shuts Its Doors
Boom Boom Room reluctantly shut it’s doors. Since 2005 Patrick O’Loughlin had continued to manage the restaurant, bar and hotel for the current owner Steven Udar-Hazy. Now only the hotel and the Coast Liquor store remained open.
Dad passed at age 92, two months shy of 93, and a year before this closure. We honored him with a large memorial at Tivoli Too. Retired Chief Spreine hosted the event for us in honor of dad as one of Laguna’s first of three police officers. Dad’s four adult kids gave the city police department his police badge at this time. It hangs proudly upstairs in the Police station. The next day, family, who flew and drove in from afar, met at the Coast Inn for one last breakfast. The Boom Cafe staff set up one long table on the south side of the bar for us followed by excellent service. It all worked out so nicely. I was very glad to be part of this era and mourn the closing day as well.
Social Cultural History Report by Rita Cofield B.ARCH.
I met Rita Cofield back in late 2013 so she could interview me while a team was putting together an inch thick report that is quite costly for the new owners, the Dornins. I loved answering Rita’s questions as I loved that she loved history and, in this case, found our history so interesting. A report already completed for Steven Udar-Hazy was on the history of the architectural design. This new report focus on the social cultural aspects of history. And then a third summary report was done by Jan Ostrshay in 2015, whom the city works with directly.
These reports take a long time because of the amount of in-depth research that needs to be completed. It was some of Rita’s questions that inspired me to delve into this website project. One question she had of me was about the location of the “Coffee Pot.” I had assumed the South Seas bar was always in the lower level off Mountain Road. Well, Rita wondered and sure enough that lower location was eventually the electric Coffee Pot in 1950. It is always fun to discover these different details.
The biggest question on the historians’ minds was documenting as accurately as possible the timeline of the gay culture. The gay period was already recognized by the city as significant with both the current and past owner agreeing on the significance. So it was agreed early on by both Udar-Hazy and Dornins to dedicate the period of the gay community by a plaque to hang along with other history pieces and the Smith era once development is completed. So for those historians that are interested, I asked Rita to summarize her findings that you can read below.
Original Three Laguna Hotels – Report
I became interested in these three hotels when I realized how related they actually are to one another. The Camino Del Casa opened its doors February 1929 with the Coast Inn opening to the public in May of 1929. The Hotel Laguna was remodeled from the board style to look more like these two hotels with a Spanish Colonial look. So two years after the city incorporated, Laguna had three major hotels. Streets were paved through town in 1926 but stopped at the Coast Inn. Travelers from L.A. to San Diego had no choice but to travel through Laguna. They enjoyed some paved roads; otherswise they traveled over dirt. The Coast Inn cost about $20,000 to build while the Del Camino cost $75,000. I am curious to find out the original cost of Hotel Laguna.
All three hotels were enjoyed by celebrities and serviceman during the 30s and 40s. The one main difference about the Coast Inn was the Smith family, who lived and worked on site everyday. I was told that the Del Camino was only open during the summer months. Somehow my family managed through the depression and through WWII of 1941-1945. And somehow my family infused the love and community spirit still felt by those who spend the night. And somehow, this hotel became internationally known. The biggest change to all these hotels over the last 9 plus decades is the urgent need for more parking. My dad, back in the ’70s, talked about how they needed more parking.
The city’s population varies along with changes like Arch Beach Heights and South Laguna, but in 1930 it was estimated at a population of 1,981. Today I think we are in the 23,000 range. So an extra 20,000 people live here in Laguna now with an extra 6 million a year worth of visitors. Laguna receives a tremendous amount of high ratings in different areas. Our artists have contributed tremendously to this town. What I want to point out is the tri-pod idea. These three wonderful and successful hotels have been a stool, a three legged stool, for the city to depend on which contributed to Laguna’s growth for the last 88 years as of 12-2017. I would like to propose the idea that at some point, these three hotels will need to go through a radical remodel similar to our church downtown that was originally built in 1928. It is my wish to see all three hotels get the proper attention to detail similar to our church in town that originally cost $18,000 to build.