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After 40 Years, Jolly Roger Closes

A landmark at the Dana Point Harbor since before most people can remember, the restaurant did not renew its lease.

After 40 years, the Jolly Roger Restaurant has closed it doors at Dana Point Harbor, a landmark for many.

According to Steve Moyer, president and CEO of Aloha Restaurants Inc., the company that owns the eatery, the company's board of directors decided not to renew when the lease came up for renewal. 

Why? Because county, who owns the building, required “major renovations, upgrades and code compliance additions we simply can't afford with our modest, family-priced menu." 

Built in 1972, the Jolly Roger would need between $800,000 and $1 million in upgrades to satisfy the county requirements, said Moyer, whose company also owns the Jolly Roger in Oceanside, Buster’s Beach House in San Diego (Seaport Village), and Monterey Bay Canners in Oceanside and Hawaii. 

"The building just needs a lot of work and needs to meet ADA standards, including redoing the restrooms, and even adding an elevator," he said. "It also needs updated plumbing, a modern grease interceptor and new kitchen equipment.

"It’s just cost-prohibitive for us at this point and we don't think it's possible to recover that big of an investment and make a return.” 

Moyer said his company didn’t want to take the chance of renewing the lease, which offered a short term of only 10 years. 

“We are a modestly-priced restaurant and in this uncertain economic climate where many restaurants aren’t making it, we just didn’t think it was a good idea,” he said. “Unfortunately, the lease term was just too short for amortizing such a large investment.” 

While he is sad to see the iconic restaurant close, he is grateful for all the years of loyalty from customers, the city of Dana Point, Orange County and the overall community.  

“The Dana Point Jolly Roger is an institution to all of us who work here and who have eaten here,” Moyer said. “Our past year has been great, and sales have been clearly up over prior year. It’s a difficult decision to close it, but it’s time.”

He said he is trying to relocate many of the 40+ employees to Oceanside. In fact, long time General Manager Randy Boswell will be one of them. Boswell has worked for the company owning the local Jolly Roger, for 29 years, and has been at the Dana Point location for five.

 “I started as a busboy and moved my way up,” he said. “This is definitely a landmark, and I am sad to see it go, we all are. I love the place and will miss the gorgeous location, and so many of the customers. I hope they will make the drive to see us in Oceanside.” 

As of late Tuesday, according to Vintage Marina Management Co., who manages the property for the county, the building has not been leased.

Additionally, representatives for the county could not be reached for comment. 

Janice Pickartz September 19, 2012 at 08:55 PM
This is sad...my family loves this restaurant. Their Seared Ahi Salad was great, along with the Fish N Chips.... :(
rob h September 20, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Long time fan. Family and friends also love this restaurant. Why did the city only offer a 10 year lease? Why can't the city pickup at least half the tab? The city pays for other rediculous projects in the city, why not one that is an icon, brings in tax monies, and that families love to go to?
jody anderson September 20, 2012 at 03:11 PM
This is so sad.....we would ride our bikes to the Harbor, sit out on the patio, have lunch and then ride home, been doing this for 10 years...What a shame!
Mark September 20, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I've been enjoying this place since 1979! Taking dates here; friends after church; "Watermelon Freeze," anyone? Please say it isn't so!
Lyda Cooper September 21, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Many fond memories with my husband at the Jolly Roger. Ate there frequently over the past 40 years. How sad to hear of its closing. Jeers to the county for not negotiating the costs of the upgrades and an affordable lease. Why would the county expect the J.R. to pay out a million dollars on upgrades on a building the county owned? Cheers to the J.R. owners for not falling for their nonsense.

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