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Our Laguna: Tommy Bahama's opens new store

November 11, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • From left, Dennis Junka, Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, Terry Pillow, Sam Pillow and Rose Hancock participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of the Tommy Bahama restaurant in Laguna Beach.
From left, Dennis Junka, Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, Terry… (KYLE BURLINGTON,…)

Tommy Bahama's newest bar, grill and retail store opened its doors to the public on Saturday, in Laguna Beach.

A traditional ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted by Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, with Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rose Hancock and Tommy Bahama Big Kahunas Terry Pillow, Rob Goldberg and Brian Pierce at her side.

The ceremony followed a private party the previous night to celebrate the opening.

Building owner Sam Goldstein said Friday that he never doubted the project would come to fruition despite disputes and delays. Goldstein blamed the economic recession for most of the problems encountered in the project.

"But I never lost a night's sleep," Goldstein said.

Not so for his wife, Pam.

"I haven't slept in four years," she said.

The project had been delayed at the start by a difference of opinion between Goldstein and the city's Heritage Committee about what constituted historical restoration.

Built by the same man who donated the land for Heisler Park, the building is E-rated, which means it has exceptional historical value to the city. Goldstein's first proposal to the Heritage Committee was turned down flat.

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He came back with a plan that was endorsed by the committee, city planners and the City Council.

Laguna's normal ration of red tape and litigation between Tommy Bahama and its prospective landlord caused further delays

But that is all behind them.

"We couldn't be happier about being part of this community," said Pillow, Tommy Bahama's chief executive officer. "They couldn't have been more welcoming.

"I had heard about nightmares, but the city couldn't have been more cooperative. We are a perfect fit."

Laguna Beach Tommy Bahama is the 13th restaurant/retail combination launched by the company in the country. The city was chosen because it exemplifies the Tommy Bahama mantra, "Life is One Long Weekend," company officials said."

"I had the opportunity to live in the area when I was 25 and I have never forgotten the experience," Pillow said. "Everything here speaks to the essence of our brand."

The night before the public opening, invited guests jammed into the ground floor of the historic Heisler Building renovated by Goldstein on the corner of Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway.

Guests included Laguna's Who's Who and Tommy Bahama VIPs, said Greg Lutchko of Orsi Public Relations, which represents the company.

Suggestions were submitted by Chris Loidolt, Montage Business Center manager, and Cindy Prewitt, founder with Goldstein of Laguna Beach Live!

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