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.