Facebook just reminded me that 7 years ago, The Hula Girls played what would end up as one of the saddest events in southern California tiki history. The grand reopening of the recently remodeled Royal Hawaiian. That should be a joyous event, right?!
Built in 1947 and busily humming along for 62 years, the longtime owner family 'cashed in' on that Laguna Beach property.
New investors thought that 'updating' the decor would be a good idea. Tiki bars thrive with dark, 'outdated', confined and cozy interiors. Low ceilings, tight hallways, dusty old pufferfish lamps, tiki dioramas... It had it all.
The remodel felt akin to a Hawaiian-themed Denny's. No joke. Diner booths upholstered in a tropical-ish print, brightly lit, fresh white walls, several giant TVs...
And shortly thereafter, it closed forever.
They blamed it on the economy, the fact that they couldn't get a live music permit... But somehow, the Royal Hawaiian had previously survived several economic roller coaster rides since the '40s, all the time without live music. Sooo... Yeah.