Who We Are
Though the Royal Hawaiian has been around since 1947, the current owners are new to the Royal Family. Being a local of Laguna Beach for 20+ years, Mo Honarkar strives to restore this historic relic of Laguna Beach to its full glory. With his daughters Hasty Honarkar and Nikisa Honarkar Bostwick, the Honarkar’s are bringing back the Royal Hawaiian legacy – everything you missed, with a twist.
The Royal first opened its doors in December of 1947. Harrold Hanna, a war veteran, and Francis Cabang, a previous coworker, opened it together. Harrold supplied the finances while Francis ran the restaurant. It started as a 50-seat restaurant with nine long tables and an Aloha filled crew. Quickly becoming a local hang out, a bar was soon added and the famous Lapu Lapu was born.
People came from all over Southern California for the Royal’s friendly service, cheap drinks, and island enthused food. It soon became a destination spot and was revered for its authentic island ambiance. Filled with paintings of the islands, an abundance of tikis, tropical fish, and island style structures, patrons claimed to feel as if they were transported to the Hawaiian Islands - dining in a hula hut.
BIG KAHUNAS OF THE PAST
Harold Hanna was a WWII veteran. He learned Hawaiian cuisine while stationed in the islands and upon returning from the war, opened a restaurant that embodied the Aloha feel. He visited Francis Cabang, a previous coworker from the Victor Hugo Inn, to help him run the restaurant. As Harold offered to pay for the finances, Francis agreed to run the restaurant. Francis and Harold ran the restaurant together until Francis bought Harold out in 1951. Harold started new business ventures and ended up moving back to Hawaii a few years later.
After purchasing the Royal from Hanna, the Cabang family ran the restaurant together. Best known for its Lapu Lapu drink, spare ribs, ono salad, and island vibes, the Royal Hawaiian flourished over the years. Francis Cabang, an experienced busser and waiter, brought life to the Royal and in turn brought colorful memories to the city.
In 2003, Francis Cabang passed away at the ripe old age of 92. Three years later his children sold the Royal to Douglas Cole in 2006, and the Royal began its next chapter.
Douglas Cole purchased the Royal from the Cabang family in 2006 and put it under a major remodel. Updating the restaurant facilities and re-creating the menu, Cole hoped to revitalized the Royal and bring back the golden age of tiki. However, this era of the Royal was short lived. With high rent, live music restrictions, and the economy, the Royal was soon closed in 2012 where it would lie dormant from its Ohana for four long years.
The Royal Hawaiian lived in shambles until Mo Honarkar purchased it in 2015 and began renovating it again in 2016 alongside his daughter Hasty Honarkar and son-in-law Eric Bostwick. Mo, a local in the city of Laguna, wishes to bring back a piece of Laguna Beach history. His aim is to give the Royal Family a place to feel nostalgic while giving the next generation their go at making Royal memories. He, along with his daughters - Hasty Honarkar and Nikisa Honarkar Bostwick, hope to bring the Royal Hawaiian back to life. Today, his team including General Manager George Poulos, strive to bring back the spirit of the Islands to the Laguna Beach community.
BEHIND TIKI CHIC
Following the Royal’s history, the Honarkar’s have incorporated as many relics of the past as possible. The banana leaf, so prominent in island culture as well as revered through the Beverly Hills Hotel in the 1940’s, can be seen throughout the restaurant. Pineapples, a symbol of welcome, hospitality, and friendship, can be seen all around every corner. Many are gold as it is the Royal Hawaiian, and all who enter are a part of our Royal Ohana or Family. (On a side note, Pineapples are a very important piece in Hawaiian culture. Also, Francis Cabang went back to Hawaii to can them for a time). There are tikis throughout the restaurant to commemorate the tiki era from which the restaurant was born. Blowfish to remind us of those tropical fish in Hawaii and those that lived in the Royal during the Cabang era. Beautiful art from local artists, upcoming Hawaiian artists, and a little beauty from around the world in our Royal Hawaiian staff.
The Royal Hawaiian has been a part of Laguna Beach since 1947. It has been a beloved local hangout for decades and is filled with colorful memories that always bring a smile to the story teller’s face. We hope we did it justice and feel honored to be a part of its history. Our wish is to see it thrive, pray it helps its patrons relive their nostalgic days, and implore all to create new memories for years to come.
Aloha Nui Loa – Much Love, Fondest Regards to All!
As a member of the Royal Ohana once said, if these walls could talk...