Laguna Beach Hub

Woody's Shutters, Further Limiting Laguna Beach's Gay Appeal

WoodysWoody's at the Beach, a decade-old Laguna Beach restaurant that was the most recent in a string of gay-owned businesses to occupy a prime lot on that town's Coast Highway, has been sold and will close on February 3rd.

Woody's was a cornerstone in the gay nightlife of Laguna Beach, just down the street from the Boom Boom Room nightclub, which was barely saved by a group of community activists last year when they convinced the owner of the lease on the property to allow them to run it for another year. When the lease ends on the Boom Boom room this September, its future is uncertain as well.

Joel Herzer, the owner of Woody's, says the restaurant was sold in order to focus on two other restaurants in the Palm Springs area.

Can Laguna Beach's reputation as a gay destination, survive the shuttering of its cornerstone gay clubs and businesses. Fred Karger, who led the movement to save the Boom, thinks so. He tells the Coastline Pilot: There is a misconception that there are no gay people left here. We have a tremendous gay population in Orange County. The population has shifted, and many are moving to Aliso Viejo and Laguna Hills, because they are no longer unwelcome."

Still, whether or not Laguna can retain its appeal nationally remains to be seen. Karger says the new owners of Woody's, who will operate a Mexican restaurant in its stead, will "cater to the community."

Woody's sold to Mexican dining chain [coastline pilot] (via Curbed L.A.)

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Laguna Beach Boom Boom Room Saved


The co-owners of Laguna Beach's historic Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn have come to an agreement with the property's new owner, Steven Udvar-Hazy. Hazy has offered them a new one-year lease, according to an email to supporters from Fred Karger, who led a petition drive to save the fabled nightclub.

The drive collected nearly 5,000 signatures from residents and visitors, which Karger says he plans to turn in to the Laguna Beach City Council in hopes that the 1920's property can continue to operate as the centerpiece of the town's gay nightlife, as it has since the 50's.

Update: Laguna's Boom Boom Room Rescue Efforts [tr]
Efforts Underway to Save Laguna's Boom Boom Room [tr]
Pitt and Clooney Buy Laguna Beach's Boom Boom Room — Not. [tr]

Update: Laguna's Boom Boom Room Rescue Efforts


In June I posted about efforts that were underway to save the centerpiece of Laguna Beach's gay nightlife, the historic Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn. Since then, signature gatherers have stationed themselves outside the town's gay businesses and have managed to collect over 3,000 signatures from supporters of their cause.

The Boom Boom Room will close in September when its lease runs out unless a petition drive, led by Laguna resident Fred Karger, can save it.

Support has been strong, despite certain pockets of homophobia, including an incident in which a man driving a speeding car heaved a cup of coffee at coordinator Jeff Delancey. The effort now has its own blog, and its own set of Lane Twins.

Save the Boom [blog]

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NYT: The New or Not So New Wave of Gay Destinations


The New York Times today covers the lesser-known gay destinations: Douglas and Saugatuck, Michigan; Ogunquit, Maine; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Guerneville, California; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Asbury Park, New Jersey; Pahoa, Hawaii; Asheville, North Carolina; and Sullivan County in upstate New York, noting that the internet has caused these pockets of gay culture to become more well-known.

GogoThe Times makes sure to note, of course, that despite the far-flung aspect of some of these destinations, there's still the requisite go-go boy, which is either sad, hot, or hysterical depending on your perspective.

So, if you're not up for the well-trod destinations of Provincetown, Key West, Fire Island, or Laguna Beach, and you're looking to be around gay people you may have more choices than you think. It's great to see these smaller destinations covered. I grew up in Chicago and visited Saugatuck a handful of times when I was a child, but I've always wanted to revisit.

Anybody know of other small gay destinations around the country that aren't covered in the article? If so, or if you'd like to voice your opinion about some of the places covered in the article, please do so...

Efforts Underway to Save Laguna's Boom Boom Room


The centerpiece of Laguna Beach's gay community, the longstanding Boom Boom Room nightclub, will close in September when its lease runs out unless a petition drive by Laguna resident Fred Karger can save the business.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, one of Forbes' wealthiest Americans, bought up a swath of property last fall that included the Boom and other area businesses. He plans to renovate the property, and the Boom Boom is not likely to renew its lease.

Karger hopes that a list of 5,000 signatures will be enough to convice Udvar-Hazy that the club and adjoinging Coast Inn are essential to Laguna's gay community. Said Karger to the Laguna Beacy Coastline Pilot: In Santa Barbara, first the gay clubs went, then the gay population. I'd hate to see the same thing happen here."

Patrick O'Loughlin, the fourth owner of what some say is one of the five oldest gay bars in the country, says he understands the importance of the property as a symbol of Laguna's gay past: "I've been honored to be involved with it. It's a powerful thing to hear the stories about the place...I know dozens of people who grew up in Orange County, and the Boom Boom Room was the first bar they went to. It has always been a safe place to go if you're gay."

There were rumors last November that Brad Pitt and George Clooney had bought the property along with Udvar-Hazy and planned to turn it into a chain of boutique hotels. Turns out the Udvar-Hazy part of that rumor was true.

Last Call at the Boom Boom Room Looms [coastline pilot]
(via curbed la)

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