"He was an astute businessman who made the American Dream come
true," said Ed Fry, a bartender at the Royal Hawaiian since 1984. "We
need more stories like Francis'."
Cabang emigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1928
as a 17-year-old named Quiterio Cabang looking for work. After a
month-and-a-half-long boat ride, Cabang arrived in San Francisco,
where the emigration employees called him Francis, his son Junior
With his Americanized name, And so, Francis Cabang began working
as a farm laborer, and eventually became a busboy and a waiter.
"He went wherever there was work," Junior Cabang said. "He wanted
out of agriculture and got an offer to work in the restaurant
business at the Victor Hugo Inn here in Laguna in the early '40s.
That job turned out being the root of the Royal Hawaiian."
The Victor Hugo Inn is now Las Brisas Restaurant, which sits next
to the Royal Hawaiian.
After enduring the Depression working in Northern and Southern
California, Cabang left for Europe to fight in World War II. He was
among the soldiers who survived storming the beach at Normandy. Gen.
George S. Patton awarded Cabang the bronze star in Berlin in 1944.
"My father could have fought in the Pacific, but he wanted to go
to Europe," Junior Cabang said, "He wanted to be among the Americans.
He was part of that great generation of men who survived the
Depression, fought in the war, then came back and became a successful
businessman. His life was nothing like ours. We've done nothing like
Cabang returned to his job at the Victor Hugo Inn after the war
and left for Hawaii shortly thereafter, again for a job -- this time
In 1947, Cabang got a call from Bill Hannah, whom Cabang had known
from his years at the Victor Hugo Inn, asking him to move back to
Laguna to run his new restaurant, the Royal Hawaiian.
Hannah said he would put up all of the money, so Cabang quickly
accepted and moved to Laguna Beach for good.
Contrary to rumors, Junior Cabang said, his father did not win the
Royal Hawaiian in a card game.
"My father was a businessman," Junior Cabang said. "He had a