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Through New Drinks and Old Favorites, Royal Hawaiian Brings the Aloha Spirit to Laguna Beach

Written By: Ameihia Turingan
Photography Provided By: Sammy Zargaran Royal Hawaiian Laguna Beach

A Laguna Beach staple since 1947, Royal Hawaiian has revamped itself under new owners and staff. After closing in 2012, the famed restaurant is under the direction of Laguna Beach resident Mo Honarkar and his daughter Hasty Honarkar. As the Royal Hawaiian played a huge role in the community, the family strives to recapture this nostalgic sentiment while imbuing freshness by adding modern food twists to the restaurant.

“The goal was to be as authentic as possible, honor the past as much as possible, and stay true to our own modern roots,” says owner and designer Hasty Honarkar. Through new offerings on the menu, friendly staff members and tiki-chic renovations, Royal Hawaiian looks forward to bringing back the quality service, food and drinks that have charmed Laguna Beach for decades.

One aspect that has charmed Laguna Beach for years is Royal Hawaiian’s renown drinks and tiki bar. Royal Hawaiian looks to expand this facet by focusing both on signature and newer drinks. In addition to offering seasonal food and drinks, Royal Hawaiian also has a custom cocktail program that was crafted by consultants from the TradeCraft Hospitality Consulting Group. The drink menu contains five different categories: Rum, Gum & Lime (Caribbean daiquiri-style drinks); daily curated Rum Flight selections; Standards (classic mainland cocktails); Tropical Libations; and Weaki Tiki (non-alcoholic drinks). Royal Hawaiian’s tropical libations include the Mai Tai Royale, Royal Blue Hawaiian and the Cabang47, which draw upon fruity and tropical elements. Royal Hawaiian’s most notable cocktail is the Lapu Lapu famously made of lemon and orange juices, rums and passion fruit puree.

To help create memorable experiences, Royal Hawaiian has hired seven bartenders and three bar backs to craft these drinks. One member that especially enjoys being a part of the Royal Hawaiian ‘ohana’ is Brittany Vanhooser, the Lead Bartender. She has always dreamed of working at a tiki bar and enjoys the fast-paced environment. Vanhooser says that visitors should expect thriving and passionate bartenders ready to provide unforgettable moments. On the menu, she recommends their signature Lapu Lapu cocktail as well as the rum-based Pula Dala. “The Pula Dala is the perfect balance of sweet. It is like sitting poolside in the afternoon sun,” says Vanhooser.

The decor around the Laguna Beach restaurant provides a wonderful place to sit and sip cocktails in the company of friends and family. Vanhooser describes the restaurant’s atmosphere as a place where “you can escape the stress of the day, come here to relax and just have fun!” Honarkar echoes this sentiment, noting that she designed the tiki-chic interior in a way to transport visitors to the islands without them ever leaving the mainland. Honarkar describes the atmosphere as a place “where people can go to eat delicious island-inspired cuisine and be surrounded by positive vibes.” Along with the tiki decor, artwork from Laguna Beach artists and the dulcet sounds of live music entertainment will fill up the space to create a fun and welcoming environment.

All in all, the Honarkars and the Royal Hawaiian staff look forward to providing memories and quality meals for generations to come. “The look of joy and nostalgia people have when they come in here…every story truly touches my heart and we feel honored to continue the legacy of the Cabang family and to be able to reintroduce Tiki to the Laguna Beach community and Orange County,” says Honarkar. “The Royal Hawaiian has touched so many hearts and we want to continue to keep it a place that people can look back, make new memories, and feel free to just be themselves.”

Armed with 50 staff-members, new decor, refreshing drinks and tasty dishes, the restaurant draws upon its familiar iconography while providing new ways to serve and entertain guests. With plans to “spread the spirit of the islands,” the Royal Hawaiian has geared itself for another exciting chapter in its illustrious and longstanding history in Laguna Beach.

Royal Hawaiian
331 N Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
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