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No 3

Winter 2020 • 2021

WavemakersMediaGroup.com

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with a pro surfer to his world of waves

f lavor

your holiday meal by way of farm-to-table flair

ent ertain escape a charitable spirit like these celebrities giving back

negativity through a winning entrepreneur’s mind


West


Oceanfront M A G A Z I N E

the team

Melissa Kandel Joey Gallagher Kyle Wagoner Almudena de Ameller Jonnell Gailey

find us

Editor in Chief Publisher Creative Director Senior Editor Events Consultant

contact us @westoceanfront

For questions, advertising inquiries or marketing requests for Wavemakers Media Group, email hey@wavemakersmediagroup.com.

West Oceanfront Magazine is a publication of Wavemakers Media Group, a full-service marketing company offering copywriting, virtual event production, TV/film, production services and more. Visit WavemakersMediaGroup.com for additional information. Any photos in this publication that do not comply with CDC guidelines, depict people without masks in a setting where masks are required, or depict people who are not social distancing, were taken pre-COVID-19. The images selected for the magazine are meant to bring us back to a time before 2020, while serving as a reminder of what the world can eventually (and safely) become.


over C

on the

“MerMind ”

by Lindsay Rapp

Lindsay Rapp is a local Laguna Beach artist whose work showcases the powerful feminine properties of the ocean. This piece —“MerMind”— is the embodiment of water as a feminine figure; the water flowing through and out of the woman illustrates her thinking, feeling and connection with the ocean, as it is life-giving, fertile, powerful, sensual, changing and mysterious as the ocean inside of her. “MerMind” reflects waves of thoughts that roll like the sea; emotions that need to break free. It represents a mind splashing like a wave, and the energy created when thoughts and emotion collide. Lindsay’s original artwork and prints can be purchased on her website:  www.LindsayRappGallery.com. Worldwide shipping and 0% interest payment plans are available. To go behind the scenes of her painting process and artistic journey, follow her on Instagram, @LindsayRapp.


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flavor

8 Letter from the Editor

A holiday issue to illuminate our community with stories uplifting and bright.

10 Dogs of Newport Beach

Meet a beach boy named Bleu who loves his treats.

12 Entrepreneur Exchange

Peter Belden, founder of The Board Club, is reinventing the business of surfing.

18 Showtime

Nicole Sebring explains why her Haus of Show is more than a business; it’s a community.

32 Distillery Spotlight

Greeley, Colorado-based 477 Distilling is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to put in a bottle.

36 This is the Stuff(ing)

Chef Rich Mead of Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens shares his mouth-watering recipe for holiday stuffing.

38 Modern Romance

Swoon-worthy first-date night spots to set every kind of mood.

22 Winter Waves

42 There’s a New Mutt Lynch’s Coming to Town

27 The SUP Surfer

44 Local Eats

A breakdown of winter breaks in Newport Beach and beyond. Pro SUP surfer Daniel Hughes talks about filming his new show, “World of Waves.”

A new addition to the famed schooner-serving establishment will open soon in Newport Beach. Sol Grill owner Misty Thorne is all about the joy of food and family.


content

s

()

escape

entertain

64 Doing Good 48 Now You See It

David Blaine explains his philosophy on magic.

52 Small Biz Gift Guide

Local businesses that’ll make you feel good about last-minute gift-giving.

60 The Art of Being Ms. Tina and

all-around inspiration is staying positive while helping others. Renowned businesswoman, entrepreneur and all-around inspiration explains how she’s staying positive while helping others.

Spread cheer and joy through these local charitable causes.

70 The Obstacle Course of Entrepreneurship Joey Gallagher, a lifelong entrepreneur, divulges his secrets for starting, growing and maintaining a successful business.

75 Outdoor Activities

Rejuvenate your senses with six Southern California hikes.

80 The Van that Mrs. Westphalia Bought Take a ride by way of a short story about a really old van.


Letter from the

E

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DI TO

There’s a certain color that splashes across gray windows when

you’re biking down Seashore Drive at six thirty in the morning. It’s neon almost. Iridescent. And if you hop on your bike just a few minutes later, you’ll miss it. The sunshine lands on Newport Beach with less concentrated brilliance, even while it waves in a fun, new day. But for those early-morning moments, this light is different. Against the murky dawn, it cuts straight through, and when you see it shimmer against the houses, you let out a breath you’ve been unknowingly holding. The world seems like it’ll be OK. Unmistakable brightness is exactly what we infused into each story of our special West Oceanfront Magazine holiday edition. The theme for this issue—brought to you by the marketing team at Wavemakers Media Group—is light. We created a publication with only classically good vibes in mind, an editorial contrast to a bleak and difficult year. In the headlines ahead, we’ll illuminate the final shadows of 2020 with festive positivity, which can arrive as easily from a soothing CBD oil as it can from the wise words spoken by the effervescent Ms. Tina Knowles Lawson. It makes you wonder: Does light really need a sun to shine? I think light can also be created by extraordinary people, like David Blaine, who spends time virtually sharing his sensational magic with sick children across the country. Or the community leaders at O.C. United, who are dedicated to creating better lives for aged-out foster youth. The idea of showcasing people in their best light is why we featured local charities, brands and small business owners, seeking to uplift with every cocktail recipe, verbal styling and funky turn of phrase. So, unpark your favorite beach cruiser from the cluttered garage inside your mind, and with something like that sweet, six thirty light to guide us, let’s ride.

Melissa Kandel

Co-founder Wavemakers Media Group @melissakandel


Dog s of NEWPORT BEACH

Bleu

@mrbleu312

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Why is Bleu spelled so fancy? Because I am fancy and expect the highest level of treatment ‌ or just some treats.

Favorite snack: Anything that a human accidentally drops in front of me.


Favorite activity: Playing hide and go seek and napping. Or napping while playing hide and go seek. Either works.

If you see me walking the streets, you should probably … Give me a back scratch and I’ll give you slobbery kisses. I’m friendly to everyone especially small dogs and kids!

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Favorite spot in Newport Beach: Newport dog beach. I love to play in the sand!

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The Board Club Founder Peter Belden


Entrepreneur exchange the BOARD CLUB

fast, heavy barrels and he had the wrong board. Buying a board seemed impractical and rentals were pretty bad. Suddenly, a thought, an epiphany and bam. A few weeks later, he returns home and builds a super successful business called The Board Club. OK, so not all “goodbye world, I’m leaving to find myself” stories actually end with finding yourself but as it turns out, Peter Belden’s does. If you visit The Board Club today, hanging above the register in the front room is a photo of Belden’s van and the exact spot on the Australian coastline—a rocky cliff with waves spraying at the shore—where his idea for The Board Club was born. It’s a reminder of the founder’s unexpected start and the reason for everything he’s built. “I had done real estate and software sales,” he says, pointing to the print. “For 10 years I was

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It’s a tale as old as time. A person, feeling a little lost, sets off on a sixmonth soul-searching trip to find himself and winds up parked on a cliff somewhere in Australia, sitting in his rented camper van overlooking the ocean blue. He’d been staying— and surfing—in that very spot but the waves were

by Melissa Kandel

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chasing career advancement and money, not happiness, and that was me opening my mind to what’s possible and promising not to settle again.” While in Australia, Belden became envious of the surf clubs that were up and down the coast. “They were these surfing communities—really cohesive and communal groups—that would BBQ together and hang out together and I just remember thinking, ‘We don’t have this back home,’” he explains.

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Though Australia provided the backdrop, community has always been his main goal. Belden says he launched The Board Club—a surf club and membership board exchange located on 31st Street, with special member discounts on merchandise, local eats and events—to bring people together who wouldn’t normally interact. “When you see each other in the lineup, it becomes friendlier,” he says, referencing countless stories of surfers sitting in the water by themselves, feeling a little intimidated, who turn to the surfer next to them and see they’re on a Board Club board.


In 2016, at the beginning of The Board Club’s journey, Belden assumed his members would be evenly distributed, some beginner, some intermediate and a handful advanced. What he’s since discovered is that The Board Club “helps people bridge the gap from beginner to real surfer.” Whether it’s soft top surfers who switch to a hard top or beginners who benefit from finding other people to surf with, picking up little techniques along the way, The Board Club provides an ideal environment to progress in the water.

It’s been a surprise to Belden, but he’s going with it. “As an entrepreneur, you have to be flexible,” he says, though he defines himself as more of a community leader than a founder. Belden explains: “People always say, ‘Wow, Peter, you can surf! I thought you were a business guy trying to be a surfer.’ I tell them, ‘No, I’m a surfer trying to be a business guy.’” He’s also most definitely Newport Beach legacy, and that legacy runs deep. His dad was a lifeguard in Newport Beach, and Belden’s been a Newport Beach lifeguard for 23 years. It means he truly understands the surf culture ... and how it can be improved.

Belden surfs Blackies on Halloween

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“Suddenly they don’t feel so alone,” Belden says. “They start chatting, smiling, laughing, and they’ve found a new surf friend. That makes me so happy. It’s one of the main reasons I started The Board Club. I’m trying to bring community members together.”

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“I just think the surfing culture here can be so much more cohesive,” he says. “Part of me struggles because I know waves are a limited resource and I realize I’m essentially adding more people to the lineup—that was difficult for me to overcome.” Belden got over any hesitation by knowing he’s turning the ocean into a friendlier place. “I’m making sure beginners aren’t going to 56th Street, I’m teaching them priority and how to get out of someone’s way—that’s how I finally came to grips with it. I said, ‘Yes, I’m doing a good thing here, the ocean is becoming a safer place to be.’” It goes back to his ultimate mission: bring people together, which he’s been committed to since day one. On opening night more than four years ago, he watched as hard-core local shapers mingled with SpaceX data scientists, CEOs and doctors, brought together by a love of surf. “I’m at the very front lines of where surfing is going because I help make it easier for a lot of people to surf,” Belden says. As an industry innovator, Belden puts the emphasis on small and local. When he originally launched The Board Club, he wanted only boards from local shapers, but to keep up with demand, he now has boards of all shapes and kinds. “I think the surfboard buying process is completely broken,” Belden explains. “People go to these big websites like they’d go to WebMD and self-prescribe boards but don’t really know what they need.”

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Instead, Belden says The Board Club allows members to get a feel for what really works for them, and then when they do buy a board, they can customize it to fit their exact needs, even showing the shaper videos they’ve taken on their favorite Board Club boards. He explains: “It’s more valuable to buy a board then take it to a local shaper and say, ‘I love this board, but I don’t like this or it’s hard for me to do this,’” Belden says. “Put your faith in that good, local shaper to make you something you want.” Or you could swap out boards forever. At just $90 a month, Board Club members can try out boards they’ve never even heard of and wouldn’t normally buy, which equally benefits the surfer and the little-known but talented shaper. “If I suggest a board and a member takes it out and says, ‘I love this thing,’ now that local shaper is getting publicity and marketing because my member might order a custom board or tell friends to check out the brand.” For Belden, it’s just part of his larger plan to emphasize local while thinking big. “I’m definitely in unchartered waters,” he admits. “To be honest, I want to fundamentally change the way surfing communities interact and the way people access boards.” And The Board Club in Newport Beach is just the beginning. He has plans to expand in Orange County and then, throughout the state. “I wanted this to be a proof of concept to know if I was crazy or not,” he says, looking around at the place he built with a nod and a knowing smile. “Apparently I’m not crazy, so that’s good to hear.”


The Board Club membership is $150 for one month, $90 monthly or $990 for the year. To join the club, visit www.newportboardclub.com/registration. And while you’re surfing the web, check out @the_board_club for dawn patrol videos, Board Club updates and more. BEGINNER SURFING CRASH COURSE “This course is not in the water. It’s two hours of drinking out of a fire hose and it’s everything you need to know, all the little things, about surfing that I learned the hard way over 10 years, force-fed into two hours. At the end, your head will explode with information but it’s stuff everybody needs to know if they’re getting into surfing.”

The Board Club’s Beginner Surf Crash Course is taught by Belden, an experienced ocean lifeguard, and a Board Club employee. Topics covered include: What to do when you’re stung by a sting ray; the difference between one, two and three fins; the different styles of boards; what to do when you’re caught in a rip current; basic ocean safety; how to put fins in property and so much more. For times and dates of the Beginner Surf Crash Course, email peter@newportboardclub.com.


by Melissa Kandel

Showtime

To know Nicole is to love Nicole. Seriously. Her energy is otherworldly. She’s the definition of the kind of optimism you’ll only read about in business books and entrepreneurship guides. Except her positivity is homegrown, a function of hardearned wisdom gleaned from a personal expedition to discover true inner peace. As the story goes, she’d find it not inside an office but on the yoga mat and in the ocean, even as the storms of 2020 tried to push her down. But a house cannot stand without a strong foundation and Nicole’s proved solid as a rock. Against the turbulence this year brought she held steady, building her very own HAUS in Newport Beach brick by brick. (Or, in the case of her Helmsman Ale House yoga classes, beer by beer.) MELISSA KANDEL: Tell me about Haus of Show. How did the company get started?

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NICOLE SEBRING: I felt like my eyes were finally open. I was seeing my life path turn in a new direction. Sure, the unknown was a bit scary, but I felt more excitement than anything. Career-wise, I had been in a seniorlevel marketing role at a major retail corporation for more than a decade. I loved communicating and partnering with clients on ideas, hosting events and the rush of brainstorming new campaigns. Personally, I was going

through a divorce. I had to learn how to live on my own again and understand the power of loving yourself before you can truly love another.

And the one thing that was constant, the one thing that really saved me - was yoga. I’ve always been fitness-orientated, but at that moment in time I found myself coming to my mat instead of going to the gym. I really focused on my practice and dove deep into the power of not only the asana (the movement of yoga), but also the alignment of my chakras and the ability to calm my mind. I had this desire to build something of my own, almost like I had a bigger purpose. Combining my love of yoga, marketing and planning events was just the thing. Another huge element was giving back. I’ve always been philanthropic but didn’t always feel secure about where my money and energy was actually going. The idea of hand-picking charitable foundations that I could support wholeheartedly really sealed the deal. Writing a check and handing it over personally was big. Friends and family encouraged my dream and then one day, it just kind of happened, Haus of Show was born. 

What was that transition like from a position in retail marketing to entrepreneurship and what lessons can you pass on to readers who might be considering starting their own business? I’d say the biggest transition was learning the ins


my business to become a pillar of the community. Even though our world was on a weird wave, I tried to stay positive and make lemonade out of lemons. You better believe my lemonade had a sh*t ton of tequila in it though! You’re so dedicated to giving back to the communities you serve. What foundations benefit from your work?

and outs of local government. I had to understand how permits, licensees and taxes worked - all crucial to thrive, but no one really teaches you these things. An entrepreneur already has that fearless passion, not being afraid of hearing no … or I suppose not taking “no” for an answer is more fitting, ha! But the logistics were the hardest elements to figure out. To be honest, I’m still learning. I’m naturally a control freak—literally every ex-boyfriend will agree to that—but when you’re starting a small business you have to learn to sometimes let go and simply operate day by day. You’ve built a really impressive—and fun—business. Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized you transitioned from, “OK, I’m going to try this and see if it can work” to “wow, this is going to be successful”? 2020 baby! I was furloughed at the end of March, on my 34th birthday to be exact, and that free time at home pushed me to take Haus of Show to the next level. I redid my Yoga Teacher Training credentials, starting teaching yoga on a daily basis, founded a local all-female surf club called Babes on Waves and really started to lay down roots in Newport Beach for

Let’s talk more about Babes on Waves. What inspired you to create that group? On my 34th birthday when I got the call that I was jobless, I was also gifted a gorgeous, new Russel Longboard. JP, owner of Newport Beach’s Russel Boards, is a truly talented shaper and solid human being. I had my eye on his yellow (Haus of Show color!) 10’3” noserider and a really great friend surprised me with it. I was so pumped to be back out in the water on a more regular basis with my new baby. It was hard to surf after working 10 hours a day behind a desk, so to have that freedom for once in 14 years was soul-fulfilling. I met a few other babes out at Blackies, and we all had a common connection - we loved to surf but were intimidated by all the boys out there and didn’t have other chicks to surf with. A few waves later, Babes on Waves surfed in.

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Nicole Sebring, founder of Haus of Show and Babes on Waves, in her element.

Our events benefit Surfrider Foundation, which organizes beach clean ups and helps with conservation and natural preservation of our beautiful shores. One of my favorite Haus of Show charity events was the 35th Annual California Coast Cleanup, a collaboration with Surfrider Foundation in Hunting Beach and Seal Beach, and Volcom. Together we celebrated International Surfing Day by honoring our incredible beaches, oceans and coastlines. We picked up trash, learned how to reduce our plastic footprint, expanded our minds and bodies through the power of yoga and even held a community surf session. We also support Laura’s House, a shelter for battered women and children. Finally, we give back to OC Animal Care. I’m a huge dog and animal lover, so I love contributing to help rescues find care and a welcoming home.

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dysmorphia, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Watching them blossom into stronger, beautiful women through the power of yoga and water healing has been truly remarkable.

Stand up paddleboard (SUP) and SUP Yoga is another huge part of Babes on Waves because it’s not just about surfing, it’s about being out on the water whether on a bay, a lake, a river - our babes love all water! I was already teaching SUP Yoga at Paddle Board Newport Beach with long-time friend Tyler Horwath, so this was the perfect addition to our club. Combining yoga with SUP is a killer workout and honestly tons of fun.   Another pillar of our community is Peter Belden, founder of The Board Club. I reached out to him to support our squad with all their board and wetsuit needs. A yogi himself, he loved the concept of Haus of Show and Babes on Waves and has opened his doors to our club since day one. I’m eternally grateful for his continued support.  I love the concept of empowering women through collective learning and growth. As a female founder, how important was it to build this concept of female unity into your business model? Do you have examples of members who have expressed how supported they feel by their Babes on Waves membership?

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Yes, yes, YES! We have grown our Haus to hundreds of yogis and Babes on Waves members in just a few short months. Women from other counties and states have even heard about our small club! We’re a tribe of some serious badass babes and by far one of the most rewarding parts of my job is hearing about each of their personal journeys. Haus of Show is built on supporting one another and showing you off. I’ve had women come to yoga and surf classes or events suffering from body image

I’ll never forget one of my yogis at the very first yoga event I held. She came by herself, very shy and quiet, new to the community. I make it a point to say hello and meet every single yogi or surfer who attends my events, and she was no exception. I introduced her to a few more yogis and by the end of the event she was glowing, her head held high, thriving in a squad. It’s that power of support and power of community that keeps me driven to grow Haus of Show each and every day.

special classes

Om

• Jan Sun 1/10 @ 10:30 a.m. “Flight & Flow” Beer Yoga @ Helmsman Ale House • Jan Sun 1/24 @10:30 a.m. “Pose for Puppies” Puppy Yoga @ Hilton Waterfront Huntington Beach Hotel 

weekly classes • Every Tuesday @ 10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow @ HerbaCulture • Every Wednesday @ 6:30 p.m. Candlelight Vinyasa @ Eso Live Well • Every Thursday @ 7:30 p.m. Strength Yoga @ HerbaCulture  • 1 Saturday Each Month @ 10:30 a.m. Beach Yoga @ Dory Deli  • 1 Sunday Each Month @ 10:30 a.m. Beer Yoga @ Helmsman Ale House

seasonal classes • Fall/Winter Season: One Saturday/month @ 9 a.m. SUP Yoga @ Paddle Board Newport Beach • Spring/Summer Season: Every Saturday @ 9 a.m. SUP Yoga @ Paddle Board Newport Beach


by Daniel Moody & Melissa Kandel

a quick refresher on surf in

Winter aves w

NEWPORT BEACH

It’s 7 a.m. and the boardwalk smells like bacon. In the half-

filled parking lot, old VW buses sit next to vintage vans and 1970s hatchbacks, doused by the bleary light of winter dawn. Look anywhere and you’ll find a surfboard, a surfer, a cup of tightly grasped coffee. Everyone knows everyone, even when they don’t.

This is Blackies, a treasured surf spot in the heart of Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, bordered by local mainstays like Dory Deli, Blackie’s Bar, the Benjamin M. Carlson Lifeguard Headquarters and the striated shadows of Newport Pier. But Blackies isn’t just a famous break. It’s a culture, a community. Here, where the ocean (mostly) rolls gentle and slow, the seasoned long-boarder and timid beginner equally belong. Wintertime waves in Newport Beach cover the entire spectrum of surfing. While Blackie’s is the ultimate place to start, each jetty traveling north maps out a progression of experience and skill. It’s a map that’s ever-changing, depending on the swell.

photography by Melissa Kandel

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Spencer Pirdy, of the Spencer and Deb Pirdy Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, has been navigating winter surf along Balboa Peninsula for years. “During the winter months in Newport I find myself somewhere between the Newport Pier and 32nd Street,” he says. “It’s no secret this zone hosts more consistent west and northwest swells, preferably when the interval is under 15 seconds.” Pirdy describes the waves there as “playful” adding that “at times they can be powerful and very consistent.”

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Spencer Pirdy (@ spencestagramin) surfing at Islas Todos Santos off Ensenada, Baja California. Photo: Chris Corona.

photography by Melissa Kandel

Consistent or not, even bad waves make for good memories. “One winter past I had a very windy session where I paddled out at 28th Street and never even caught a wave,” Pirdy says. “I was swept south toward Newport Pier and felt like a rat in a sewer drain; I hit the beach and called it a day—sometimes the ocean wins!” To ensure the ocean sometimes doesn’t win, let’s break down a couple of swells: On a northwest winter swell, Blackies and 28th Street will be bigger, south of Newport Pier becomes friendlier for

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beginners, and the upper jetties will offer up some fun surf. Keep heading north to the Huntington Cliffs and you’ll encounter your share of good-sized, heavy waves. On a south winter swell, Blackie’s will be predictably small. As you move up the jetties, the swell grows larger until you arrive at the 56th Street jetty and River jetties, where you’ll experience the most complicated, dangerous and technical waves. Journey southbound down the jetties, past the Newport Pier and you’ll see the Point and the Wedge turn on. Even at its best, winter surf in Newport Beach is relatively small. In the winter months, island blockage is real—the Channel Islands and Catalina Island literally block the incoming swell. (Get yourself to the other side of Catalina and the waves will be massive.)


Other breaks along California’s coastline aren’t subject to the same fate. When Surfline shows three to four feet at 56th Street, Mavericks, a big wave destination about 420 miles due north, could be pumping at 30+ feet. “Mavericks has always been a wave that scares me to death but paddling the mile out to the lineup and seeing it for yourself is like nothing else on Earth,” Pirdy says. Other worthwhile waves to chase? Pirdy recommends Blacks Beach in San Diego (“a magical wave that comes out of a deep-water canyon and can offer you the wave of your life”); Ocean Beach in San Francisco (“raw, cold and challenging”); and Islas Todos Santos, a legendary island break 19 miles off the coast of Ensenada, Baja California. “Todos Santos Island is such an experience,”

Pirdy explains. “You hop on a boat and you’re instantly in crystal clear, blue water with gorgeous waves breaking at the reef they aptly named Killers. After you’ve had your session and you’re back on land, you can devour as many delicious tacos as you’d like.” And if charging the azure expanse of massive, deep-water waves isn’t for you, there are plenty of post-surf tacos to be had in Newport Beach.

photography by Melissa Kandel


NEW PORT BEACH FILM FEST RETURNING FALL 2021


by Melissa Kandel

I

SU

THE

first met Daniel Hughes in Pacific City during the fall of 2019. We were sitting at one of those big booths at Ola Mexican Kitchen celebrating a mutual friend’s birthday and I was talking about how I really wanted to learn how to surf.

P

SURFER

“Do you surf?” I asked him between sips of my spicy margarita, confident with one glance at his long, blond hair and athletic frame that he probably did.

Daniel is one of the world’s top Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) surfers. In July of 2019, he won a bronze medal for Team USA at the Pan American Games. He fearlessly conquers The Wedge on its biggest days. He’s a mainstay at local spots like 56th Street and Huntington Pier. And as host of freshly released surf show, “World of Waves,” he’s re-defining what it means to be a SUP surfer while inspiring a whole new generation of ocean enthusiasts to discover just how fun the water can be.

photography by @joekatchka

MELISSA KANDEL: How did the concept for “World of Waves” begin? DANIEL HUGHES: It started off last year around October or November. I was competing in Barbados and my coach, Ian Cairns, talked to me and said, “I’m trying to get this show started if you’re interested in hosting it.” In the beginning, it was going to be a surf news station with correspondents around the world, each hosting from a different place. In February we filmed a sizzle reel in Huntington Beach, still not fully sure what the show would become. Fast forward to March and a lot of people who work in the industry were suddenly out of work and available for the project. The team met up for lunch and that’s when we brought on a writer and director and things really started moving after that. We got a plan together and it just

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“I do surf,” he told me before launching into a very helpful lecture about priority and wave selection and falling a lot before you can really shred. But as the conversation rolled on, and as restaurant-goers kept stopping at our table—“Wow. I saw you at the pier yesterday. You’re a beast!”—I realized I wasn’t just talking to any surfer. I was talking to a pro.

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took off like crazy. What’s the World of Waves team like and how involved are you in the creative direction of the show? Everyone involved in World of Waves

is so creative. When we got the team together, I thought, “Wow this is going to be something really cool.” When they said that they were thinking the direction of the show was going to be more like Anthony Bourdian “Parts Unknown” but for surfing, I got even more excited. They said the crew would follow me around as I host and have normal interactions. I always wanted to be true to myself. I didn’t want any part of it to be fake. I knew the audience would connect with the show if I was being genuine to me. You filmed an episode at The Wedge.

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What’s your connection to that iconic Newport Beach spot? I started going to The Wedge with my dad when I was about 15 and I remember him telling me, “You can’t surf here.” I was like, “OK, I’ll just body surf.” It was a midsize day, about three to four feet when I got there, and it was really fun,

just little wedges I could body surf. I body surfed The Wedge for the first couple of months. I got to know the locals and earn some respect. The older crew that hangs out there would say to me, “Man, you’re cool.” After a while bodysurfing, I thought, “I bet I can bring out a softboard.” I took out my soft top and started having a blast on that little foam board. A year went by and I thought, “I bet I can bring out a regular board now.” And I did. Ever since, I’ve been hooked. Five years ago, was the biggest day I went out and I actually took a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). It was one of the first times someone


had taken a SUP to The Wedge – only a few people have ever done that. The waves were about 20 feet that day and it was absolutely awesome. Every day I went to The Wedge was all leading up to that one moment. Now, the local guys will say to me, “Dude, you should bring out your SUP. It looks like it’s getting bigger.” Where do you typically surf in Newport? I try to go to certain spots when it’s not that crowded. I’ll go to 56th midday when it’s more relaxing. The cool thing about surfing and especially surfing in Newport or 56th Street is that it gets crowded in the morning but after that it’s pretty mellow. The waves are still good, but everyone’s surfed out. On a SUP you get a bad rap because a lot of the old-school guys are like, “Why aren’t you shortboarding?” But I’m just having fun, man. It’s cool though. Usually when I stand up paddle, I start out shortboarding. I’m pretty recognizable with my long hair and my style, so they’ll see me shortboarding well and then I earn a certain level of respect. When I take out my SUP, they let me have waves. When they actually see you shredding the SUP they’re like, “Woah that’s different. I haven’t seen that before.” If you just jump on a SUP it doesn’t work. Everyone thinks of standup paddleboarders as kooks because it’s typically a really big board. People don’t understand you’re a surfer. What’s one thing you learned about surfing through your World of Waves interviews that you never knew before?

One of my favorite people to meet was Peter Mel. He’s a big wave surfer in Santa Cruz and he charges incredible waves I haven’t even surfed yet. He told me his worst wipeout wasn’t necessarily his biggest wipeout but when he wasn’t in a relaxed state. It’s all about the importance of not panicking and staying calm in the ocean, which is huge. Even people who don’t surf or don’t regularly go in the ocean, they’ll panic when it’s two-foot waves. I saved a guy from drowning in Newport. He had never been in the ocean and all he did was panic. He had a boogie board, threw it away and just started thrashing toward the beach. He didn’t realize the boogie board is a flotation device. If he hadn’t panicked, he might’ve come to the conclusion that he could just hold on. His board is like a buoy. But when you panic, reason goes out the window. It’s the same when you surf big waves. You feel scared because you have no control. You’re held down however long that wave wants to hold you down. So, as Peter Mel reminded me, realize you’re not in control and go with it. That was probably one of the biggest takeaways. Any other “aha” moments? Yes, another one happened during my conversation with the shaper Gary Linden. He’s such a humble guy and all the different woods he uses to shape boards, it’s art. His favorite wood to shape a board


with is agave, which not very many people do and it’s like, shape agave wood into surfboards? Wow. And they’re amazing. He’s a master shaper. I talk to him about this board he calls “The Tree of Life.” The story behind it is that he shaped this beautiful board to ride—he also charges big waves, too—and it was his favorite board. Gary was hosting a contest at this big wave spot in Oregon and Peter Mel (it all ties together) needed a board to borrow. Gary let him use this board, his favorite board, and he got a 10-point ride but at the end when he jumped off, his leash broke and the board was actually lost at sea. Gary said when he lost it, “It’s OK.” And he let it go. Gary said it was such a relief. He thought, “I can let go of one of my most prized physical possessions.” He did put an ad out and some tourist 80 miles down

shape these boards and surf them means so much more. The fact that he let a board like that go was pretty eye-opening.

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the coast saw the ad and found the board and returned it to him. So, it became this “Tree of Life” board that was lost and found. Hearing that story was amazing. I saw his emotion behind it. Gary said that experience taught him a lot. And I thought about how he was really attached to that board, his favorite board, and how it held so much value to him. He shaped it himself and he surfed some pretty insane waves on it. His shaping is an art. It’s not just work. It’s his passion. As surfers, we get a board, or we buy a board, but they don’t mean as much to us but to be a shaper and

Any interesting stories from the road? One of the best stories was in Cape Cod when we stayed with this guy, Ed Shred. He had a twobedroom cabin in the middle of nowhere on the Cape, right on the beach. It was him and his wife staying there, plus me, the writer, the director and the cameraman, and we all crashed in this little cabin. There was someone sleeping on the air mattress. There was someone on the futon. There was someone on the couch and then me and the writer, Dave, we shared the bed in the bedroom. It was actually the best decision because we’re both six-foot two, but the bed was big enough to fit us. We’re not very wide. In the middle of the


I love the work you’re doing to inspire young surfers through Little Surf Co. How did that get started? My really good buddy, Joe Katchka, lives in Huntington Beach and takes photos of me all the time and he also happens to shoot for the Little Surf Co. He told me about it—he said they teach a bunch of groms how to surf—and asked if I’d be able to come out and talk to them. He said they’d be so stoked. It worked out that I had some free time after I had been traveling and I showed up in full uniform with my 2019 Pan American medal. It was so awesome. I did a little talk about how I started surfing when I was five. One kid is like, “I’m three!” I talked about how doing what you love in the ocean is everything. It’s not just short boarding. It’s not just longboarding. You can body surf. You can boogie board. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re having fun. Just do what makes you happy. That’s what it’s all really about.

World Waves

WHERE TO WATCH

of

World of Waves is on in more than 100 million homes in broadcast and cable syndication (Sinclair/Bally regional sports network [RSNs], NBC RSNs, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and CW affiliates).

You can also watch for free on Surfing.com or put your ZIP code into the website and see what channel the show is on in your area. And coming soon, Daniel is starting a weekly vlog called “Wave Check” with his good friend and talented videographer, Brent Weldon, (@weldon88). As Daniel describes: “The vlog will be all about our adventures searching for the best waves around, surfing and having fun with our friends!” Follow Daniel on Instagram, @danielsup.

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night, Ed Shred’s wife gets up to use the restroom but she stubs her toe on the futon then falls on the corner of the air mattress and the director, John, was sleeping on the air mattress and lets out a scream because when she landed on the air mattress, she shot him up like two feet in the air. It was hilarious. In the morning, we woke up and it was a little foggy, but the fog burned, and it turned into an incredible, perfect day. I’d say three- to four foot occasional five-foot waves, with perfect turquoise water.

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DISTILLERY SPOTLIGHT:

47 7

Distilling

by Daniel Moody

On the corner of 9th & 9th in Greeley, Colorado you’ll find

a scene straight from the mid-1900s. A small yet bustling downtown contains the historic Weld County Courthouse, a park, boutiques, coffee shops and local eateries. But there’s something in downtown Greeley today that would’ve been out of place in the 1950s or 60s: a distillery. Greeley’s history is mostly a dry one. For nearly 100 years, special clauses in land deeds—originally written by the city’s founders—prohibited the sale of “intoxicating liquors.” It wasn’t until 1969, when the public voted to end temperance that alcohol was allowed within city limits. The measure passed by a mere 477 votes. Once known as a hub for beef and oil production, Greeley is now home to an ever-growing number of breweries and distilleries. Honoring those four hundred and seventyseven souls who let their voices be heard during that historic vote, 477 Distilling champions their legacy through the creation of award-winning spirits.

Reminiscent of the set from “Back to the Future,” the Weld County Courthouse looms over the 9th & 9th intersection as it stands kitty-corner from the doors of 477 Distilling. Stepping inside, you’re met with the aromas of fresh liquor escaping off the still and friendly greetings from staff who don shirts with the company’s slogan, “Whiskey, because no good story starts with a glass of milk.”

From worship pastor to distiller, Matt’s path to business ownership can be traced back to his childhood growing up in Irvine, California near his entrepreneurial grandfather. Matt’s grandfather was a naval

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The uniforms aren’t just a show of good faith in the brand they work for, they’re also an unspoken agreement that every employee will uphold owner Matt Estrin’s philosophy of spiriting great memories through quality products, a welcoming environment and delicious cocktails. This philosophy is the embodiment of Matt’s honest and honorable character; throughout his life he’s worked hard to achieve his goals while ensuring everything he does is completed with the highest standards of excellence.

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Side bar Thirsty Thief

• 2 oz - 477 Distilling Bourbon

• ½ oz - 477 Distilling Chai Spirit • ½ oz – Lime Juice

• 1 oz – Cranberry Juice • ¾ oz – Maple Syrup • 1 Egg White or 1 Barspoon of Egg White Powder • Top with Club Soda • Garnish – Speared Cranberries

Cheers!

pilot turned business owner, who ran Culligan Water in Los Angeles for years before retiring and moving to Newport Beach. In fact, the original name of 477 Distilling was Tower 56 Distilling as an homage to Matt’s Southern California roots. Matt always wanted to create his own path in life and that path began to take shape when his taste buds fell in love with America’s spirit, bourbon. What started as an occasional after dinner digestif soon turned into a deep love of bourbon and a passion for exploring new flavors and recipes. Eventually, this journey culminated in a distiller course at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky where Matt had the realization he could follow in his family footsteps and create something of his own. Once the thought to launch a spirits brand entered his mind, Matt knew it would never leave. In 2016, the foundation for what would become 477 Distilling began.

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Starting with five products, 477 Distilling’s lineup continues to expand, all under the careful guidance of Matt and his head distiller, Jory Davidson. Their award-winning single barrel bourbon is sweet, smooth and versatile, ideal when served neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail. From gin exploding with tangy citrus notes to naturally flavored and agave-sweetened liqueurs, 477 Distilling continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible to put in a bottle. Craving a sweet and savory sip? Pick your poison. 477 Distilling offers peanut butter and cinnamon whiskey, plus amaretto and coffee spirits. Not a coffee person? Try the Chai Spirit, which tastes just like a chai latte from your favorite neighborhood café. No matter what you like, 477 Distilling has something for everyone, and with the company’s product line hitting Orange County liquor shelves by early 2021 that’s a very good thing. Learn more about 477 Distilling at 477distilling.com. For sales inquiries, contact Dan@477distilling.com.


Stuff (ing)

THIS IS the

It’s not every day you get a farm-to-table holiday

stuffing recipe from one of California’s first farm-totable innovators. But today is that day, and it arrives wrapped in culinary instructions straight from Chef Rich Mead of Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens, who has been cooking farm-to-table style since before any farm met any table and decided, “Hey, this might work.” It all started in the late 80s, by accident, with one fateful conversation between Chef Mead and a local produce vendor. At the time, Chef Mead owned the 17th Street Café in Santa Monica, and when the restaurant next to the café over-ordered on veggies, he told the man who came a-knocking on his back door that yes, he’d take the rest.

So began Chef Mead’s lifelong mission to illuminate all things farm-grown, which went from flicker to flame upon discovery of the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market—the longest-standing market in the state. Fast forward to the 90s and Chef Mead opened his first restaurant, aptly named Sage, a farm-totable eatery located right here in Newport Beach.

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Today, Mead helms the kitchen at Farmhouse, an al fresco dining experience that’s equal parts magical and delectable. Everything is fresh, everything is

bursting with seasonal, local flavor, and dishes are served against the fitting backdrop of flowering gardens. It’s the epitome of the sweet, lasting marriage between farm and table that Chef Mead officiated years ago. See? Now you understand why it’s such a big deal this epicurean mastermind is sharing his stuffing recipe to live deliciously among the holiday-themed pages of West Oceanfront Magazine. Without further ado, bon appétit!

farmhouse stuff ing MAKES ABOUT 20 SERVINGS:

ingredients

• 1 cup diced carrots • 2 cups diced celery • 2 cups diced onions • 1 cup chopped leeks • 3 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms • 2 cups cubed roasted butternut squash • 1 cup cooked wild rice • 2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves • ¾ cups unsalted butter • ¼ cup olive oil • 4 cups turkey stock (can also use chicken broth or vegetable broth to keep dish vegetarian) • 1 cup white wine • 14 cups of Toasted Seasoned Bread Cubes • Optional: 2 teaspoons crushed chilis

f resh herbs • • • • •

½ cup chopped sage 2 tablespoons chopped thyme ¼ cup chopped rosemary ½ cup chopped Italian parsley Salt and fresh ground pepper


TOASTED SEASONED BREAD CUBES:

THE REST:

ingredients

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. • Place butter and olive oil in a preheated medium high sauté pan and allow butter to begin melting. • Coat pan with oil and butter and add carrots, celery, onions and leeks. • Begin sautéing, season lightly with salt and fresh ground pepper. When vegetables begin to soften, add garlic (and crushed chilis if desired) and stir. • Continue cooking and reduce heat to medium then add mushrooms. Cook while stirring until mushrooms soften. • Add white wine—stir and allow to reduce by at least half. • Place bread cubes in a mixing bowl and add sauté pan mixture over bread cubes and begin to mix. • Add half of the herbs, 2 cups of stock and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Continue to mix, add rest of herbs and stock and cooked wild rice—taste and finish seasoning with salt and fresh ground pepper. • Oil a baking pan or casserole pan and scoop mixture into dish. • Cover with foil and place into pre heated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven and bake about 40 minutes, until hot throughout. Test by inserting knife blade into middle of stuffing. Stuffing is cooked through when knife is very hot to touch. • Melt ½ cup of butter, remove stuffing from oven and uncover and drizzle butter over top of stuffing. • Place back in oven and bake until browned on top—about 25 more minutes. • Remove from oven when brown, let cool slightly and serve.

• 2 pounds or 16 cups of cubed ciabatta bread (you can use sourdough if you would like) makes about 14 cups toasted seasoned bread cubes. • ¼ cup olive oil

seasoning mix • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground sage • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground rosemary • 1 ½ teaspoons ground marjoram • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder • 1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

directions • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. • Cut bread into cubes, place in a mixing bowl and drizzle olive oil lightly over bread cubes. • Sprinkle with 2 heaping tablespoons of the seasoning mix and toss. • Mix thoroughly, so seasoning mix coats bread cubes. • Place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. • Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH CUBES: • Peel butternut and slice in half split lengthwise. • Scrape out seeds and cut into half circles about an inch thick. • Proceed to cut the half circles into 1-inch-by-1inch cubes. • Put cubes into bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. • Place on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper and place in preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven and roast, stirring occasionally until soft and the cubes turn lightly brown. • Remove from pan and let cool.

Chef Rich Mead Photograph by John Gilhooley


L et’s face it, dating is weird. We encounter a

perfect stranger off the internet — despite what our parents told us about not talking to strangers — then we’re supposed to meet up with this person (alone!) and assess their worthiness as a future life partner, all within the span of an herb-crusted salmon dish and a large glass of Pinot Noir.

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I’m not knocking online dating. How else are we supposed to make connections when most of us are knee deep in our careers, some of us have children, and the closest we get to potential dates is when we lock eyes with someone across the digital expanse of a two-hour Zoom meeting? The chances of organically finding a romantic counterpart are nearly impossible today. Instead, we accept the early onslaught of arthritis brought about by excessive swiping left on that shirtless gym selfie or swiping even farther left on that dude holding up a trout

from the one fishing trip he took with his cousin seven years ago when he caught a little something in the murky waters of Lake Havasu. Marry me, please. Oh, and don’t get me wrong, us ladies are guilty of photographic fails, too. Our profiles are veritable smorgasbords of duck lips, bikini shots at juuust the right angle, and hiking poses in our curve-hugging-est yoga pants. Because, hello! Can’t you see how outdoorsy and at one with nature we are? Once we’ve swiped, matched, chatted and not been left on read, then we actually have to shimmy into our skinniest of skinny jeans and go on this thing. Tired yet? Same. But power through! It’s time to put on a pair of real pants (yes, it’s been a while) and spritz your mouth with breath freshener because I’m about to take you on an intimate tour of first date locations along the coast of Southern California.


modern

What Your First Date Options REALLY SAY ABOUT YOU by Jonnell Gailey

CASUAL COFFEE THE SCENARIO: You met someone who seems nice enough (or not completely like a serial killer) but you haven’t been on a date since before puzzles became trendy again, and you need to get out of the house. Nothing says “non-committal” like a casual cup of coffee, (unless it’s after a date that hasn’t ended from the night before). Here are a few places to tell someone you like them a latte. Or a little. Or not at all but the coffee’s really good, it’s so you’ll stay, (even if from six feet away).

PLATONIC MIDDAY MEETUP THE SCENARIO: Unless you’re in a committed relationship, a lunch date screams “just friends.” It also more subtly whispers, “I don’t really have time for you but I need to take a break from work and I guess you’re better than FaceTiming grandma, who keeps reminding me about my internal clock and liking her latest TikTok video.” If you’ve fallen victim to the midday lunch date, we’ve got a few quick and sassy lunch spots that are fun, flirty and definitely not for friends. • ZINC Cafe | 3222 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar • Playa Mesa | 428 E 17th St., Costa Mesa • The Village Inn Balboa Island | 127 Marine Ave., Newport Beach

THIS COULD LEAD TO DINNER AND … THE SCENARIO: Ah, my personal favorite, the evening adult beverage meetup. Now we’re getting

somewhere. It’s casual, though nowhere near as casual as the romantic purgatory induced by a lunch date. It’s also a chance to turn your date into a little more, like a four-course dinner or an extended night of family-friendly fun. (If that’s what the kids are calling it these days.) Honestly, alcohol is the elixir of the gods; it takes the edge off that first date. Meeting up for craft cocktails at a swanky speakeasy, or for beers at a cool brewery, or for margaritas at a Latin restaurant with live music and choice Insta-story lighting (no filter required) dictates the tone for the rest of the night. Try these spots to set a mood that’s the perfect mix of salty and sweet, kind of like that dirty martini you’ll soon be sipping ... • SOCIAL | 512 W 19th St., Costa Mesa • Splashes Bar at the Surf and Sand Resort | 1555 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach • Helmsman Ale House | 2920 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach

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• Cafe Dose | 116 East Eighteenth St., Costa Mesa • Hola Adios | 120 Virginia Place, Unit 101, Costa Mesa • Succulent Coffee | 501 Park Ave., Newport Beach

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PRELUDE TO PALM SPRINGS

BABES IN BEACHLAND

THE SCENARIO: OK hold up. This pre-date banter isn’t just going well, it’s going REALLY well. You’re vibing! You’re laughing! You’re texting into the wee hours of the morning on a weekday. You’re — dare I say it — in LOVE. (If love is binging the same obscure Netflix docu-dramas and sending each other hilarious memes.) Well, maybe you’re just in serious like, and an actual dinner date is the best next step for you.

THE SCENARIO: It’s the holiday season and you’re feeling a little extra jolly after some eggnog and a “yes” from the person you’ve been asking out forever. (Finally!)

Nothing says, “I am genuinely interested and you are worth my time” quite like committing to a dinner reservation for two. True story: One of my favorite restaurant dates ended with an unplanned but amazing weekend in Palm Springs. Remember, a beautiful dinner is sexy but an adventurous spirit is even sexier. If you’re ready to impress and down for a possible desert getaway post-tiramisu, here are some romantic restaurants with enchanting patios and fresh air that’ll have you craving the open road by check drop:

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• Shorebird | 2220 Newport Blvd. #101, Newport Beach • Water Grill | 3300 Bristol Std, Costa Mesa • Brussels Bistro | 222 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach

Newport Coast offers seasonal activities sure to help you feel the holiday feels all the way through the new year. Mistletoe not required. • Balboa Island Christmas Lights Walk around Balboa Island and enjoy some of the best holiday decorations along the harbor. It’s the perfect setting for hot chocolate sipping while taking in the decadence of the twinkling homes and yachts along the waterfront. | balboaisland.com • Sugar Cookie Baking Class at Paper Street Parlour - Show off your creative culinary side with a cookie decorating class in a ventilated studio. | paperstreetparlour.com • Night of Lights OC at the OC Fairgrounds A drive-through holiday experience to take in the light show while cruising in your sweet ride and listening to Mariah Carey on repeat. | winterfestoc.com Some of the restaurants listed in this story may be open for take-out only. Check each location before visiting. And if you're uncomfortable dining out or meeting in person with someone new, a FaceTime first date works, too.


Get on board. Digital real estate payments are here to stay.

www.earnnest.com


If you live in Newport Beach, you know

Mutt Lynch’s. Its witty outdoor sign messages are hilarious—Merry Christmas, don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. Its schooners are as gigantic as they are delicious. Its ornate beach décor and string-lit ceiling provide the perfect backdrop for tailgates, birthday celebrations or a New Year’s Day drinking Fat Tire in your onesie pajamas. And now, this beloved Newport Beach hangout, which just celebrated its 45th year in business, is getting a sibling. But we’ll skip the gender reveal party because you’re not here for the blue or pink cake and let you know the new location will be called Mutt’s, and you’ll find it this winter in Eastbluff Village Center. Expect the same local-watering-hole vibes at Mutt’s, including a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu that will focus on approachable American eclectic dishes. You’ll also be able to re-discover some current Mutt Lynch’s favorites like the Pterodactyl Wings and made-to-order pizzas.

MuttLynch’s THERE’S A NEW

COMING

TO TOWN

by Melissa Kandel

So it’s called

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and we can’t wait.


New for its offerings? A focus on family dinner items and craft cocktails. With a full liquor license, Mutt’s will sharpen its teeth on elevated drinks featuring spirits from artisan distilleries across the United States. (Fear not, beer lovers. The schooners will still be available.) And just like its beachfront counterpart, Mutt’s will be open 365 days a year. “Right now, people are craving community. We’re all just mutts, looking to find our pack,” says Megan Murray, who co-owns Mutt’s with her husband, Alex. As the daughter of Mutt Lynch’s founders, Gail and Dan Lynch, Megan is veritable Mutt’s royalty, and knows exactly what people want who walk through the restaurant’s doors. “The progression of our brand is designed to follow our loyal Mutt Lynch’s customers, many of whom have grown up to raise families of their own,” she explains. Measuring 2,675 feet, Mutt’s will have plenty of indoor seating and a big patio, with those signature, year-round Christmas lights that make Mutt Lynch’s shine unendingly bright. Thirty-two-ounce schooners will adorn the walls, along with the brand’s celebratory catchphrase, “It’s a Party and You’re Invited.” Honoring its commitment to small towns across America, Mutt’s will support made-in-the-USA products including beers, wines, paper goods and merchandise. The new Mutt’s will serve as a prototype for future locations, so if you like Mutt Lynch’s kitschy-cool vibe—and who doesn’t?— you’ll love it in even more places soon. “With Mutt’s, we want to continue to build [on] the success and ethos of Mutt Lynch’s by celebrating what gives America character - its small towns and communities,” says Alex Murray. “Beginning with our hometown in Newport Beach, each Mutt’s location will celebrate its respective community with distinct decor and menu items that reflect unique elements of the town and its history.” Mutt’s is located in the Eastbluff Village Center (2531 Eastbluff Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660). For more information, visit muttseastbluff.com.

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Clockwise from top left: A Joe Dirt pizza pie; Mutt Lynch’s famous schooner, which will also appear on the new Mutt’s menu; a plate of signature Pterodactyl wings; the BBQ chicken hot pocket; Megan and Alex Murray enjoying their restaurant’s famed fare with their children; and Megan and Alex planning for Mutt’s launch.

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Sol Grill Owner Misty Thorne


LOCAL EATS:

Grill ol S

by Bradeson Field

“Sharing food is a form of expression.” - Maya Angelou

It’s known around town that when you enter Sol Grill,

the safe bet is you’ll be greeted with warm smiles and the hum of good conversation. These familiar staples play into your comforts, into the desire to have somewhere else to call home. The Sol greeting goes far deeper than what you’d come to expect from a restaurant, but owner Misty Thorne has allowed Sol’s four walls to become an extension of herself and the community she’s formed. To understand Sol’s roots, you’d have to go back to the beginning of Misty’s story. Born in Hawaii, her early days were spent in the sand, learning a very real sense of ohana, the Hawaiian word for family, which she has carried with her all these years. She next moved stateside, ping-ponged around the western seaboard, and settled into Southern California. Working locally at various Newport Beach restaurants, she learned, as she says, the joy of waiting tables and the connection it can bring. Always hustling, she also worked as an esthetician, where she sought to bring out the beauty in each of her clients.

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At the time, she had no experience running a restaurant. The thought didn’t even enter her mind until she frequented Sol’s original location at the base of Newport Pier, befriending the original owners in the process. Her love for the restaurant was so palpable, the owners eventually passed the place into her capable hands for its next chapter. Since then she says, “[I’ve] become obsessed with it; I just want to nurture it, nurture the customers.”

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Misty’s nurture is proven by her dedicated nature. She’s behind the counter six days a week, cutting pieces of the outstanding in-house baked bread on the same wooden table she’s had since day one. She mothered a child in the years since taking over the restaurant, found balance through it all, and channeled her strengths under Sol’s roof. Misty says, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” And neither would her customers, who return with just as much fervor for the food as they do to see Misty. When Sol’s lease ran out at its spot by the pier, Misty found a wonderful new location on Pacific Coast Highway. It was previously an Indian restaurant, which she gutted and remodeled, breathing new life into the bungalow-style beach house while taking care to preserve Sol’s warm and welcoming character. Dimly lit with red accent lighting, the décor is like something out of your most romantic dreams. The location is currently in the liquor license lottery, and once Sol’s number hits, a speak-easy expansion is whispered to be in the works, which will call for added staff—a big deal for Sol. The long-standing staff members, like Misty, are deeply woven into the restaurant’s narrative. 

Usually, restaurants have high employee turnover, but Misty has had the same staff for years. Celebrating 18 years in business on January 24, the soul of Sol hasn’t wavered, and it shows in its staff member’s loyalty and in its food. The meatballs rival some of the best anywhere, on any continent. The housemade sangria will have you calling for pitchers of the burgundy stuff in no time. The blue cheese filet, Mediterranean swordfish, or Grandma Jill’s meatloaf will win you over time and again. Throw a dart at the menu while blindfolded and you’ll always hit a bullseye. That’s the underlying magic to the menu, it’s been curated over time, not only by staff, but also by everyone who dines there. In the end, Sol is a restaurant with a pulse—a pulse that comes from all of us. Misty is more than happy to change things up according to customer feedback. We all have a say because she wants you to step into something familiar with each visit. With each bite. It’s not just her home, it’s ours.


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Now you see it

by Joey Gallagher

DAVID BLAINE

Reveals His Magical Mindset

I was recently lucky enough to work with

David Blaine in person and he literally lit up the room. You could tell he loves what he does and has a passion for achieving the unheard of, the strange and the spectacular. We later caught up and he shared all his magician’s secrets. No, no— just kidding. But he did talk to me about some really cool stuff. JOEY GALLAGHER: When people are referencing you performing, do you prefer it to be called a performance, a stunt, a magic trick or it doesn’t matter what they call it as long as they’re entertained?

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DAVID BLAINE: The truth is, I like people to decide whatever it is for themselves. I just basically think of an idea and I become all consumed with the idea and then I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it happen. I don’t necessarily think of them as needing to be labeled a certain way, which is probably confusing to the audience on some level. I look at it as more like a chapter or an image for a book if I was to think about how to explain things. As a kid I would find images of Houdini’s old performances and I started to have dreams and couldn’t get them out of my mind. So, I always look at everything as almost like a biographical book with chapters or

just images and then I try and figure out how to make those images that seem impossible turn into a visual piece. That’s kind of a simple explanation to be honest. I know a lot of people get confused. They’re like, “What are you? A magician? A stuntman? A this? A that?” And I’m like, “Well, I don’t know.” I don’t know what I am. I just like to come up with one simple idea and then try to execute it as best and safely as possible. So, you’re basically a combination of it all? I’ve never thought of this way but if I was to explain it, you could say I’m an explorer except I’m exploring an idea that I become fascinated with; it would be no different if I said, “Oh I want to climb Mt. Everest.” Now you have to figure out the best, safest way to get to that incredible apex, right? So, I would say it’s almost like an explorer with the means of magic being the guiding principle.


Photo: Jordan Hartman

OK, so you look at these impossible situations— freezing yourself in a block of ice, living in a coffin, holding your breath underwater in a tank—and whereas most people would think, “This is terrible.” You see these situations as fun. You think they’re beautiful. Where do you think that kind of mindset misery comes from? I had an unlucky but a lucky situation when I was young. When I was 16, my mother was very ill with cancer and her approach was always to stay really strong and positive through it. Even on her last couple of days, somebody came to visit with their kid and my mother was very close to dying, couldn’t move. And this little boy walks Photo: Carston Bell

past her room and my mother who is so focused on everything around her said, “Oh he got his haircut, it looks so nice.” This is somebody who was a few days from dying who couldn’t even move, who was on all kinds of chemotherapy, drugs, morphine and all that. And yet, she was so concerned with paying attention to this other boy. So, what she did for me was that she showed me you can be peaceful even through difficulty. And I think I became all-consumed with it because I wanted to start to understand what she went through. I wanted to understand what her suffering was like. At the same time, she had already given me books that kind of defined her philosophy when I was young. I read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” and books that were about fasting and finding truth through a denial to all temptations. I started fasting and in class when I would get punished for being a class


clown, I’d have to stand up for the entire class and I was like, “What’s difficult about this?” It was just the same as sitting. I learned early to override any sort of pain and suffering with the mind. The combination of all those things plus the discovery of Houdini, who was able to push his body past the threshold and do things that seemed impossible, which he defined as magic, I think led to that entire route. Then looking at the different performance artists who would use their bodies as the art piece led to the curiosity of everything else related to that field. There are so many different roads that kind of opened up through books or through my mother or through different teachers along the way that led to this discovery. You have a 9-year-old daughter named Dessa. If she wants to start doing what you’re doing, would you support her magician’s career?

I support anything she wants to do but if she did decide to do these types of things where she pushes herself, I think I’d have a panic attack. When she bumps her knee, I almost have a heart attack. Speaking of influences, I know you’ve always looked up to magicians like Houdini, Orson Welles, Bill Kalush and others. What does the history of magic mean to you and how has it influenced the direction you’ve taken your career? The history of magic is incredible. That’s where I like to draw things from because there are so many acts that completely faded away or disappeared because the art moved more in the direction of illusions and tricks. If you go back to the Vaudevillian days and the dime circus and the freak show performers, when it was about doing theater shows every night or even P.T. Barnum-esque performances, you found the most bizarre and interesting characters. They would display their


Makes perfect sense. In terms of feats, what excites you more: Freezing, holding your breath or heights? What excites me? I like all three of them, kind of equally. You are definitely an amazing human. Last New Year I took my daughter to the Arctic Circle and we slept in an ice hotel where the temperatures were sub-zero, and it was the greatest time. It was just me and her, and I stayed awake all night touching her neck because I was afraid that she would be frozen, but she was perfect. I got no sleep, of course. And heights, obviously. I love skydiving, hot air balloons and all those types of things. What was the other one? Heights, freezing, holding your breath … Yeah, holding my breath I love. Any New Year’s resolutions? I think the resolution is to always try to become a little it better. I don’t try to set too many

Photo: Jordan Hartman

In terms of doing good things, are you involved with any charities right now? I’ve always done magic to kids in hospitals. For Christmas I would bounce around to hospitals across the country and just do magic to as many sick children and staff as possible. Now I do it over Zoom but that’s something I love to do. Flying balloons in the sky was something you always wanted to do and when you finally made it happen, it was very successful. Is there something else you always wanted to do and just can’t figure out how to do it yet? I’m working on a specific one that’s going to take a few years. I’m very excited about it. Well, don’t give it away. No, I’m always afraid to talk something away, so I usually only talk about it when I’m trying to piece it together. You’ve obviously already made the history books, but how would you want to be remembered as a magician? I think the best way to be remembered as a magician is as a guy who brought magic to people. That would be the best. Hearing you talk and seeing what you’ve done, taking what some of the top magicians in the past have accomplished or attempted and actually doing it and making it your own, it feels like you’re bringing history to real life. Well, thank you. That would be incredible. Who knows?

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one feat that they were able to do—something nobody else in the world could do—then they would take their secrets to the grave. My theory on everything is if it’s done by one person it can be done by another. I spend lots of time trying to reverse-engineer what they did and then apply it to how it would work for me as a magician. I don’t know if that makes sense.

crazy goals but just try to become better as a person and do better things and use the magic in the best way possible, when possible.

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by Rachel Landen

Missed that one-day Black Friday sale? Not cool. In need of a few last-minute holiday gifts? No problem. These West Oceanfront-approved gift ideas are all made by small businesses that put care into every drop, candle and cut.

Aries E ssentials Some businesses start from a dream,

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some from a want and others from a need. Aries Essentials falls into that final category; the Cannabidiol (CBD) brand began when founder Steven Smiley’s father-in-law, a Vietnam War veteran and POW, was battling stage 4 lung cancer. An oncologist recommended CBD to combat the debilitating effects of chemotherapy, so Smiley purchased several different (and expensive) remedies yet found them to be unreliable. His background as a longtime natural skincare professional told him the formulation was off. Call it gut instinct or fate, but something transformational sent Smiley on a six-year-long journey from those less-than-stellar products to Aries Essentials, his very own CBD line.

EXTRA-STRENGTH CBD BODY CREAM


“I knew most of these companies were making their creams and oils in really large vats and there wasn’t equal dispersion of CBD,” Smiley explains. “I got raw CBD and started creating products in my kitchen and they were instantly better than anything out there.” Smiley’s kitchen soon became his entrepreneurial sanctuary for mixing and matching. It was the place where he dispersed CBD treatments to help his chronically arthritis-ridden father, his anxiety-prone mother and of course, his cancer-battling father-in-law. (As we said, in this story the need came first, followed closely by the business.) “Slowly it became a thing where we were selling it,” Smiley says, giving kudos to the Aries Essentials team he’s since built who are today dedicated to making a positive impact on people’s lives. “We’ve experienced purely organic growth because I believe in our products, in our packaging and in our branding, but I also happen to love what I do.”

And that single return is almost the most incredible tale to originate from Aries Essentials. Except Smiley’s father-in-law, given just nine months to live in 2009, would survive another ten years with the aid of Smiley’s homemade products ... and that really is the most remarkable story of all. “I started this company to help people,” Smiley says. “It cost me a heartbreaking loss, but it also gave me the ability to make a difference every day.”

Use code WAVEMAKERS for an additional 10% off your purchase. Even better? Stack this discount on top of the buyone-get-one free promo Aries is running through January 2.

Visit www.ariesessentials.com for more information.

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Just 18 months young, the brand is now sold online and in select San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County stores. There’s also a 100% money back guarantee. “I’m proud of the fact that since we launched the business, we’ve had just one return,” Smiley says. The reason? “The customer was allergic to lavender and didn’t realize it was in the product.”

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GIFT IT: Allons Ensemble Wines WineGuyandWineGal.com

“The wine honors the moment, the cork holds the memory, but the people it connects makes the magic. Let’s raise a glass together … with the good stuff.”

Wine

–David Dees, Wine Guy

WINE GUY &

GAL

Send a little sip of Sonoma to friends and

family this holiday season with a couple of reds from David Dees and Lyndsay Hayes, better known as Wine Guy and Wine Gal. The native Californians, who once bonded over a shared passion for wine, recently worked with winemaker Bobby Donnell to create two new red wines from Sonoma County – a Pinot Noir using grapes from the Russian River Valley and a Zinfandel from Dry Creek. The 2019 and 2018 vintages, respectively, have been aging in 100% French oak barrels, but they’re now ready to move to their new homes (i.e. under the tree of someone on your holiday shopping list). With online ordering and free shipping/delivery for wine club members, Wine Guy and Wine Gal make that move easy. The hard part is just deciding how many bottles you’ll order … eight of the Pinot, eight of the Zin, or eight of each?

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You can also order just one of the Pinot Noir or the Zinfandel, but why would you do that when three bottles lands you free shipping and 15% off? Besides, both of these vintages were made in small batches, which means if you don’t get your hands on them now, you might miss out on them forever. Cue major FOMO, especially once you read Wine Guy and Wine Gal’s descriptions of these bottles.

The Pinot Noir, with its flavors of red currants, vanilla and spice, is described as sexy, “[showing] up with the same seductive bouquet of roses you would bring to your date.” Meanwhile, the Syrah and Petite Sirah added to the Zinfandel “elevate this party in a bottle to an affair to remember” with notes of both sweetness and spice. Now are you afraid of missing out? And if that’s not enough, the duo provides recommendations on their website for food pairings – maybe some beef carpaccio for the Pinot or a smoky mac and cheese with the Zinfandel – to bring out the best in these bottles. That extra guidance should come as no surprise, considering Wine Guy and Wine Gal’s love for educating and exciting people about wine is clear, from hosting private tastings to launching a web series next year. And perhaps most obvious is that the Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are produced under “Allons Ensemble,” a label that literally means “let’s pair together.” But as David – err, Wine Guy – points out, the best pairing with wine is the people you’re with. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?


GIFT IT: Starry Candle StarryCandle.com

Candle STARRY

Maybe you’re prone to procrastination (we see you, Taurus),

or feeling indecisive (that’s for all you Virgos out there), and you’ve still got gifts to check off your shopping list this holiday season. Whatever the reason, we’ve got you covered with a present that’s personalized enough so any last-minute gift recipients will think you’d been planning on it all along. Introducing Starry Candle, which delivers its subscribers a monthly package containing a zodiac-specific candle in a fresh new fragrance, along with a horoscope reading. (And yes, Leo, that means that your Starry Candle package will be unique and not like the one your Sagittarius friend receives. That would just be insulting.) Assuming you’re not scared of commitment (*cough* Gemini *cough*), you can opt for a three- or six-month subscription to save. There are also one-time packages available to give the candles a try without locking yourself in for the longer term. But with a guarantee that the recipient will love his or her candle’s scent – or Starry Candle will replace it – there’s no real risk in gifting a full-fledged membership. Although these candles may have been “born in the cosmos,” the natural soy wax blends are made by small batch suppliers in the U.S. before they’re shipped out each month. And if knowing they’re made locally doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy enough, maybe the fact that the company donates 10% of every purchase will. Starry Candle has teamed up with Starlight Children’s Foundation, a non-profit whose programs help deliver happiness and healing to seriously ill or injured kids across the country. So, with every package or subscription you purchase, you’re also helping to positively impact the lives of children in need. If you were looking for a sign, there ya go.

BONUS: Use promo code WAVE and get 15% OFF your order


Endless un S

GIFT IT: Surf Lessons EndlessSunSurf.com

It’s like the old adage goes:

If you live in Southern California and you don’t surf, do you even live in Southern California? That’s because a curl is to California the way an outside break is to Orange County. They’re kind of a package deal. And speaking of swell deals and surfing (wow, we really ran with this one, huh?), Endless Sun Surf School offers it all. Established in 1963 – coincidentally the same year The Beach Boys released their hit single Surfin’ U.S.A. – Endless Sun Surf School in Newport Beach has served as one of the area’s premier surf instructors for more than half a decade. In fact, it’s one of only three surf schools in Newport Beach permitted for lessons. Since Mike Love sang about “them wearing their baggies, Huarache sandals too,” the school’s surf instructors have taught thousands of people of all ages and abilities how to surf. After all, lessons are available 365 days a year, so there’s sure to be some date on your calendar—or your gift recipient’s calendar—that will work for a private or group surf lesson.

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But if you’re not set to schedule that lesson now, don’t worry. Endless Sun Surf School offers gift certificates. Pick up one or two or

SURF SCHOOL

10 for your Southern California friends and family so that they can literally get on board when they’re ready. Endless Sun Surf School’s instructors are professionals – some have even competed in the World Surf League – but perhaps most importantly, they’re all CPR and First Aid certified. If that weren’t enough, lessons take place near the Newport Beach Pier, which is considered one of the safest beaches to surf in California, thanks to its flat topography, gentle surf and proximity to lifeguard headquarters. All the surf lesson-taker has to do is show up at the Newport Beach Pier on lesson day. They don’t even have to worry about bringing a board or a wetsuit; Endless Sun Surf School has got them covered, quite literally from head to toe. This holiday season, join the ranks of thousands of other Endless Sun Surf School students who’ve gone … dare we say it? ... surfin’ U.S.A.


Apothecary + TReSs

GIFT IT: TReSs Apothecary + Salon Gift cards ShopTReSsApothecary.com

SALON

At the intersection of boho chic and

luxuriously cool, there exists TReSs Apothecary + Salon, a 1,250-square-foot waterfront salon in Lido Marina Village that’s the ultimate local haven for treatyourself beauty. At TReSs, stylists become friends, and friends will be seriously jealous of your awesome new ‘do.

Tera Stephens, a Southern California native and in-demand hair stylist, launched TReSs January 2016 with a focus on world-class service in a hip yet inviting setting. (The location was originally a harbor home built in the 1940s, and Tera enlisted renowned architect Rand Kruse to reconstruct the building’s vibe to fit the salon.) It’s low-key, minimalist beauty at its highest form of expression, right here in Newport Beach. “I wanted to create a space where my clients could take a moment to slow down and enjoy an escape with truly exceptional, personalized service,” Tera explains on her website. Today, TReSs clients receive safe, sanitary and individualized care—and not just for color, cut, style, extensions, oil treatments or makeup

touch-ups. The salon offers premium beverage service and meal delivery too. Plus, they’ve been selling organic, handcrafted and impossible-tofind products since before David even thought about opening Rose Apothecary in Schitts Creek. TReSs just launched an online retail store, so if you can’t make your way to the salon, you can still gift your friends and family premium hair, beauty and wellness products by visiting ShopTReSsApothecary.com. The salon also offers gift cards, which might just be the perfect present for the holiday season. Why not give the gift of a fresh start to the new year? We all could use that after 2020, right? And as the uber-talented stylists at TReSs prove, everyone feels better when they’re looking their best.


GIFT IT: Gift certificates, merchandise 2603 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Cassidy’s

BAR & GRILL

If Orange County had a Cheers, Cassidy’s

might well be it – that local bar where everybody knows your name (and your shame). Located on Balboa Peninsula, the Newport Beach establishment sits inside an unassuming one-story building sandwiched between lanes of Newport Boulevard and just a few blocks from the beach. Although it’s the kind of place that caters to Newport locals – the bartenders often have a drink ready for their regulars before they can find a seat – it should also be a required stop for tourists. (But don’t tell the locals we said that …) That’s because Cassidy’s is known as the best dive bar in the O.C., the kind of place where finance bros shoot Jäger alongside surfers sipping beers while a first date plays pool in the corner. But it’s not just the atmosphere and the cast of characters who rotate through the narrow building that make it a special spot. Cassidy’s is also recognized as having the best burger in the O.C. But don’t go there expecting one of those gourmet concoctions topped with things like duck bacon or black truffle butter. That’s not their style.

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At Cassidy’s, the burger is as classic and unpretentious as the rest of the bar. All you need is a toasted bun, a slice of Cheddar cheese, and the usual lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. The only thing that could make it better is a slathering of Cassidy’s “special sauce” and an ice-cold beer from their fridge. Because they sell gift certificates, you can literally give a present in good taste this holiday season, whether your gift recipient spends it on a burger, a few beers or bar merchandise. (We’re kind of partial to the black snapback hat with a tropical brim.) And “shopping” at Cassidy’s is kind of a win-win since it’s a great excuse for you to stop by the bar to play a game of pool, spin a song on the digital jukebox and scarf down a burger of your own. Just remember to ask for the special sauce.


WHERE DO YOU

West Oceanfront?

POST A PHOTO ON YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED OR STORY TO SHOW US WHERE YOU'RE READING OUR MAGAZINE. (YES, EVEN IF IT'S FROM HERE.) TAG US @WESTOCEANFRONT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ITEMS FROM OUR SMALL BUSINESS GIFT GUIDE!


ina T s. M

Photo: Marcus Branch

Hello? I have Ms. Tina on the line. Oh, hello.

I’m sitting on the edge of a chair in my

office at 10:30 in the morning wondering how on earth I got to be on the phone with Ms. Tina Knowles Lawson. She’s the matriarch of all matriarchs—you might know her daughters, Beyoncé and Solange?—a celebrated fashion designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader. Her resumé is filled with so many wildly amazing accomplishments, it’ll make you want to get out of your work-from-home sweatpants, put on your most fashionable ensemble and make it happen. Ms. Tina’s demeanor is immediately friendly. We laugh about a joke I can’t remember and within minutes, I feel like I’m talking to a friend. As we chat, she’s comforting and positive, tempering her achievements with humility and an everpresent desire to do no less than change the world. She’s often celebrated for her stylish wins—Ms. Tina designed for Destiny’s Child, Beyonce’s tours and appearances, and has been featured on the pages of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, InStyle and more. She’s been on major TV shows

(Good Morning America, The View, The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show) and she’s currently the co-founder and co-artistic director of Where Art Can Occur (WACO) Theater Center, along with her husband, Richard Lawson. Two of WACO’s core programs are called Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors, both yearlong mentorships for teenage boys and girls, respectively. Mentors get assigned to deserving participants who want to live full and productive lives but may not have the financial means to do so. The programs focus on building self-esteem and personal development through the restorative power of creative expression. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ms. Tina is her unmistakable altruism. I can hear it echoing in every word she speaks. I thank her for taking time to talk with me. “Of course, I’m happy to,” she says, and really means it. That’s when I realize being Ms. Tina isn’t an accolade. It’s an art.

MELISSA: What’s your advice for staying resilient during the holiday season when it might be a little tough on people who can’t see family or friends? MS. TINA: For me, after those initial first two months of staying inside, I was really unhappy. I hadn’t seen my children or grandchildren and when

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being

the ART of

by Melissa Kandel

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they’re in L.A., I see them almost daily. I couldn’t see anyone. I was stuck in the house. One day I just went out to say my morning prayers and it hit me: Take this energy and put it into something positive. I was really kind of feeling sorry for myself but there was a lot going on. Hospitals were running out of equipment. My husband and I have a friend who runs an organization called Matthew 25. He had a trucking company and he turned it into a non-profit and every time there’s a disaster, he goes and brings supplies. I said, “Let me call them and see if they have anything they can bring to these hospitals.” One of the hospitals that really needed equipment was in New Orleans. The mayor was saying they didn’t have anything. So, I called my friend and he said, “Yeah. We have plenty of masks and supplies.” Then I called my doctor in Houston and asked him if he needed anything and he said, “Oh we just started a clinic for people who couldn’t get into the hospital.” After that my whole demeanor changed. I just felt in my soul like I had a purpose. I had a reason. It brought about such a change in my attitude and my spirit. Doing something for other people took away all that sadness. It’s what happens when you try to get out of yourself and I think that brings about a feeling like you can fight and make a difference. That’s amazing. And you’re also involved with community outreach at WACO Theater Center? For the 94 kids we mentor, we got them to do a voting initiative where they signed up relatives and friends, and we gave $1,000 to the kid who signed up the most people. It really brought it home to me that in their economic situation, they felt powerless. They felt like they couldn’t do anything. Getting out and getting their relatives

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to vote, explaining how it affects the community and their family, when they started doing that their whole demeanor changed just like mine did. When you do something to help other people, you feel such self-esteem. You feel like you have some control. To anyone reading this who wants to pursue a career in the arts, what would you suggest they do today to hone their skills and progress their career forward? That is what WACO Theater Center is all about. I think they should find some kind of local place, a little theater or a place where they’re singing or dancing and just volunteer. When my kids were coming along we were in Houston, which is not the mecca of entertainment. But we found things for them to do. You can always find a community center that is doing some type of entertainment. You can seek out dance studios and ask if you can volunteer. I’ve always believed in bartering. If you don’t have money, see how you can work in exchange for taking dance lessons or singing lessons. There are opportunities wherever you go. I don’t care how small the town is. Find an open mic and make your mistakes. I remember with my kids, my husband and I volunteered for everything, so we could have access for our kids. That’s my advice. And don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to mess up. That’s why you’re volunteering. The audience isn’t as critical. Make a fool of yourself. You are a true inspiration. Who are some people who inspire you? My mom. It sounds like such a cliché, but my mom is deceased now, and I grew up with her having all the kids in the neighborhood at our house, taking them to the beach and taking them to ride the ferry—anything that was free. She was a great teacher in teaching me that you don’t have to have a lot of money to help people. I grew up really poor but it’s about taking initiative and finding things to do and giving back to people. She was probably my biggest inspiration. There are so many people who have inspired me over the years. I guess the usual suspects. There’s


Let’s talk about WACO Theater Center and the art you showcase there. Can you tell me a little about the new “I Got the Mic” series and how that got started? My husband and I went to Ghana in December of last year and we were able to take 10 of our kids from Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors and have a celebration there. We realized that when people look at Africa, they don’t distinguish between Ghana or South Africa or Tanzania, they kind of put it all together. So, when we were there, we thought about those distinctions and that’s how this got started. We came up with the idea of “I’ve Got the Mic,” which allows people to come and say their poetry and sing and dance and do whatever their talent is. The people we’ve been highlighting talk about the evolution of music in Africa, the evolution of certain dance, foods, fashion and the influence it’s had on their particular culture. That’s how it kind of evolved. It’s been such a great platform for people because poetry sometimes doesn’t have a platform and these poets don’t have a place to go to talk about their art. The fashion is really cool, and I’ve met some great designers out [in Ghana]. Waco Theater Center has gone virtual. On a positive note, do you think the uptick in virtual programming has given people even more access to the artists, wordsmiths, actors and innovators you feature on your platforms?

Some of the feedback I’ve gotten from people is like, “Wow, I didn’t even realize that I liked poetry.” It’s something people rarely see but such an interesting thing. With our kids’ programs, a lot of those kids have so many feelings and don’t know how to express them and now they’re writing poetry. It gets their feelings out. It’s something they feel good about. The virtual aspect has been great because people have time to sit down and listen and they never had that before. Everyone’s Zooming now. Otherwise, people were so busy doing day-to-day activities and they didn’t have time to sit down and watch the news. Even the people who have never been politically active this year for the first time are paying attention and are interested in what’s going on in the world other than their world. It took out a lot of selfishness in our ability to ignore things and act like we don’t see things. I think that this has been the worst time, and, in some ways, it has been a good time because families can be together. I’ve never spent so much time with my family. I’ve been with my daughter and grandkids and we’ve been all together for a month. My kids are pretty busy … I’d say so … Yes, and the grandkids were here and for the first time we ate together three times a day and saw each other every day. If I could find any kind of silver lining in this, it would be that people who have family members around them are treasuring the time with them like never before.

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a lady, her name is Ms. Andrea Davis, and she had a large charity and when I was maybe 30, she was in Houston and did all these fundraisers. She would raise money and give it to different organizations, and I was a benefactor of one of those. [She donated] to the S.H.A.P.E. Center, a community center in Houston where I brought my kids to sing and dance and hone their skills and compete. So, that inspired me to want to do the same thing. I always wanted to have a community center and now between Richard and I, we’ve opened one.

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E

ver heard of a helper’s high? It’s what psychologists call the state of euphoria you feel after a charitable activity. And fun fact: Giving back produces the same kind of endorphins in your brain you’d experience after indulging in warm, gooey butter cake—we’re looking at you, Mastro’s—or running a few sweaty miles on a sunrising beach. But beyond generating a high, helping people also creates a why. Donating time, money or resources can bring prolific purpose to a stretch of boring days or infuse meaning through a hearty injection of altruism. Wondering where to start? Glad you asked, West Oceanfront friends. We’re listing some opportunities to inspire your spirit of selflessness right here on this very page, (and technically the next one, too). Read on!

the charities. MUSICALLY FED, ANGELS ON THE MOVE Normally, on any given day, you’d see Musically Fed working with artists, promoters, venues and catering teams to donate excess tour catering to charitable organizations that serve the homeless and the food insecure, especially veterans.

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But we aren’t in normal times. Currently, the live music and entertainment industry is in desperate need of support and Musically Fed is dedicated and ready to assist. Musically Fed recently teamed up with Gallagher Staging to put on a food drive at the company’s facility

Joe Gallagher dressed as Santa for the December toy drive.

in La Mirada, California. The plan was to organize and provide a minimum of 200 cars with boxes full of groceries and essentials for those in the entertainment industry who have been out of work. “Our industry was deeply impacted at the beginning of this year and will surely be the last to recover,” said Joey Gallagher, co-founder and CEO of Gallagher Staging. “There aren’t a lot of people who understand the current devastation that the live music and entertainment industry is facing, even though they might be in a


position to help, so we as a community decided to step up and help our own.” A large group of entertainment professionals and companies came together in mid-December to help organize and carry out this mission for the good of the industry they love so much. The charity event was conducted with the necessary social distancing precautions, full sanitation and disinfecting, including the use of proper personal protective equipment. In addition to Gallagher Staging and Musically Fed, Rhino Staging, The Clinic, Bigger Hammer and Insomniac Cares participated as well. And if providing more than two semitrucks worth of food and essentials wasn’t enough, the team at Watchtower Studios, the live production venue located on the Gallagher campus, hosted a toy drive in collaboration with Angels on the Move to bring some holiday cheer to kids in need. At the time of publication, the initiative had already reached its goal of more than 400 toys collected and counting. “A mentor of mine has always said, ‘It’s almost selfish to give because the rewards are far greater for the giver than the receiver,’” Gallagher explains. “This collective act of giving is a reflection of the strength of our industry and the promise of a bright future ahead.” To get involved and learn more, visit: • www.musicallyfed.org • www.angelsonthemove.org

the charity. PROJECT HOPE This holiday season, Julia Morton, real estate expert with White Sail Realty, is supporting Project Hope Alliance, a non-

doingGood by Melissa Kandel

Julia Morton


profit organization on a mission to end the cycle of homelessness one child at a time. For the holidays, Project Hope Alliance (PHA) has a variety of programs to help give the gift of hope. These programs include: • Support Hope – Each $100 donated fulfills a wish list for a child in the program. The organization will be transforming its onsite community space into Santa’s Workshop and parents will have the ability to choose gifts, allowing them the dignity of providing joy for their children during the holiday season. Visit www.projecthopealliance.org/holidays then click “Support Hope” and select an amount to participate. • Donate Gift Cards – Click here to select a gift card through Amazon. PHA has indicated the needs of each gift card, so you can choose one that’s high priority on their children’s wish list! Click here to start shopping or visit www.projecthopealliance.com/holidays and scroll down to “Donate Gift Cards” then click “Check out what our teenagers want most!”

“Children should have a chance for success in life without worrying about obstacles presented by homelessness,” Morton says about her desire to participate in the cause. “My parents had the ability to provide a loving, safe and stable environment for me and my siblings to grow into productive adults with the ability to support ourselves. I want children living in homelessness now to have the ability to end the cycle for themselves and their future children.”

the charity. CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHAPTER Networking, giving back and bringing awareness to an important cause all converge in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Southern California Chapter’s Tomorrow’s Leaders program. Tomorrow’s Leaders is a young professional program designed to offer like-minded professionals leadership skills and career-building opportunities while they make a difference in the lives of those with cystic fibrosis, a debilitating genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. Benefits of Tomorrow’s Leaders, include: unique events

KC White

held monthly; the ability to network with local, statewide and national professionals; the chance to develop and enhance leadership skills; and a connection to the community through its up-andcoming leaders. For more information or to become a member of Tomorrow’s Leaders, email Associate Executive Director Shaina Fleisser at sflesser@cff.org. Find additional information on the chapter website: www.cff.org/OrangeCounty. And to put things in perspective, here are a few words from KC White, a 41-year-old mother living with cystic fibrosis:


The CF Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis, and nearly every CF-specific drug available today was made possible with financial support. I am alive today because of the generosity of others who have donated their time and resources to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My dream is to live long enough to celebrate my son’s milestones – his graduations, his wedding and maybe even hold my own grandchildren someday. Whenever I worry that my dream might be not possible, I also chose hope and continue to put my faith in the CF Foundation and those who support it. To learn more about the work the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is doing to add more tomorrows for those living with CF, visit www.cff.org.

the charity. O.C. UNITED According to the organization’s mission statement, O.C. United empowers “individuals, families and communities through restorative relationships and whole-person care.”

“Aged-out foster youth presents a huge challenge and when you learn about it, you want to do something about to help,” says O.C. United Executive Director Jay Williams. “There’s a myth that if you get foster kids adopted into great families, they’ll instantly have a great connection and values will align,” explains Amy Gaw, who works as director of operations and foster care initiative at O.C. United. In reality, Gaw says foster children face intense social and emotional challenges that require highly personalized care. “They’ve had a breakdown in the most fundamental relationship with their family,” she says. “A restorative relationship is really where you have to start.” And that’s exactly where the team of volunteers and staff at O.C. United come in, providing additional support for atrisk youth and former foster young adults. Through the organization’s THRIVE program, restorative relationships are built among staff, mentors and volunteers,

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When I was diagnosed in the early 1980s, cystic fibrosis (CF) was a disease of little hope. Most people with CF didn’t live to adulthood. My family was devasted by my diagnosis and worried about my future, but instead of living in fear, they chose hope. We put our faith in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the promise of advances in research. It hasn’t been easy—coughing, stomach aches, countless doctor’s visits, hours of treatments each day, PICC lines for IV medication, hospital stays, surgeries and more pills than I can count. But it has been worth it. My family and I celebrated when I graduated from high school and then college. We danced at my wedding 17 years ago. And 14 years ago, to our great joy, I gave birth to my son, Mac.

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who guide participants toward healthy personal development. The program offers practical services like budget coaching, simple cooking, mentoring, job search training as well as other important life skills, while connecting participants to local trade school and opportunities for higher education. So, how can you help? Gaw says local assistance is needed for the THRIVE program. You can sign up to volunteer or even teach a skill to participants. (Email info@ ocunited.com for details.) Additionally, O.C. United is working with young adults who are ready and able to launch into the world but can’t afford rent in Orange County. O.C. For these young adults, the organization is seeking places they can rent that are able to be listed at slightly below market rate.

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“It’s a way to give back and help kids make it here,” says Williams. “It sends a message to these kids that the people in this community know you’re worth it. They know you’re valuable.” For more information about O.C. United, visit www.ocunited.org.

the charity. SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK OF ORANGE COUNTY For the sixth year in a row, the Nicolai Glazer Real Estate Group of Pacific Sotheby’s in Newport Beach is organizing a holiday food drive that runs through January 9. Unlike the previous five years, this year they’ve also gone virtual. Participants have two options to donate:


• Virtually. To donate virtually, visit www. yourfooddrive.org/#NGRE or go to www. NicolaiGlazer.com and click on the link at the top of the team’s website. If you’re wondering how much to give, $1 helps provide three meals! • Traditionally. To participate, place nonperishable, non-expired items in a bag. Email info@nicolaglazer.com with your address. You’ll receive a reply with a confirmation of pick-up date. You can also call to schedule your pick-up: (949)-306-8339.

“Just call me and I’ll come to your house and pick up your donations or guide you as best as I can,” Glazer says. “We want to make this initiative user friendly for everybody.” The whole idea started when Glazer was thinking about ways to give back to the community he serves. “A food drive is the quickest and most immediate gratification for the people who need dinner today or lunch tomorrow,” he explains. And Glazer’s food drive delivers. In six years, his team’s efforts have resulted in more than 24,000 pounds of food donated. “It’s amazing,” he says. “People have opened their hearts and their wallets to support what’s going on and help people through the uncertainty of the unknown.” For information bout the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, visit www.feedoc.org.


C O bstacle ourse the of ENTREPRENEURSHIP: by Joey Gallagher

How to Fight, Pivot and Win Every Time

the backstory.

So there I am, standing in front of my employees, discussing this challenging project, and instead of worrying about the complexities of what I was about to tell them, I stared into fifty sets of eyes and thought about the fifty families that were now counting on this company to succeed. A good business owner goes to sleep and wakes up with the pressure of creating not only a prosperous, profitable business but

also (and more importantly) a place that provides a better life for their employees and those who depend on them. If you can achieve both, I promise it’s a win-win. You launch a business with the intention of working for yourself, which may seem glamorous in those motivational Instagram posts but while you think you’re building a shiny path to freedom, you’re actually building the most treacherous obstacle course you’ll ever experience. It’s why some people aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur. And that’s OK. The genetic fabric of an entrepreneur is made from long days and big challenges, coupled with a special kind of resiliency not everyone can fully embrace.

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It started with a company meeting. I was just a year into my business — Gallagher Staging — and decided to take on a project that most young companies of my size would never have even considered. But I knew we were ready. We’d get it done.

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Here’s the thing about the mental fortitude of an entrepreneur: You might not even know you have it until you’re on the obstacle course and someone throws a gigantic fireball at your head. While the nonentrepreneur runs away, the entrepreneur stands tall. They catch fire then forge on, transforming those flames into energy that pushes their company forward.

the mindset.

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Solid leadership is the foundation for sustainable growth, excellent customer service, employee satisfaction … it’s everything. Take care of your team and your team will take care of your company and clients. It doesn’t matter if you’re running

a local bike shop with three employees or a manufacturing facility with 250 employees, the philosophy universally applies. Being a good leader means accepting and overcoming temporary challenges. Being a great leader is a lifelong commitment to personal and professional improvement. A great leader is passionate, and has the distinct ability to help their team members become passionate about the work as well. They also have a positive mindset, and train their employees to operate with actionable optimism. There is no problem that can’t be solved if you focus on a solution. Even the problems of 2020.


the pivot.

the balancing act.

This year caused a complete shutdown of my business, which had expanded from those initial 50 employees to more than 160 employees. In 2019, we were building the main stage at Coachella and Stagecoach, and constructing multiple custom sets for some of the most famous entertainers in the world. Then the music stopped.

Without balance I do not consider a business successful, no matter how impressive it may be on a balance sheet. Without real balance a business will consistently fail to realize lasting success. To give their best, team members need a healthy balance of work and home life, just as every manager or CEO does.

Instead of giving up, I decided — without hesitation — to fight. I created several new businesses utilizing my hard-earned knowledge and hard-working team. The difficulties I’d maneuvered through in the past prepared me for 2020 and its neverending hurdles. (Remember, the bigger your goals, the bigger your obstacles.) Flexibility is critical to the longevity of a business. I’ve constantly had to shift strategies to stay relevant and weather changes in the market. Pivoting could mean altering product lines, marketing tactics or even focusing on an entirely new marketplace. When you adapt to challenges or changes, you safeguard your long-term success. My team and I were saved because I took immediate action and made the decision to survive. But years of tough decision-making prepared me for that moment, standing at the edge of a brand-new obstacle course with unimaginable twists and turns, determined to emerge victorious on the other side. Decisions a business owner implements along the way should be calculated ones. It’s extremely crucial to listen to your gut by utilizing what I consider to be my most powerful tool: my business sense. If you are constantly connected with your employees, clients and industry, your business sense will be strong. Use it and you’ll crush the obstacle course every time.

Nobody should spread themselves too thin. Responsibility should be delegated to the team and its managers with the appropriate systems in place to ensure accountability, productivity and performance. Balance isn’t just about profitability, it’s also about employees’ mental wellbeing. We come in contact with people every day who are struggling in their personal life or at work — it could be a neighbor, a friend, a stranger on the street or one of your employees. Creating a workplace culture that accepts the messiness of real life (and the real people who live it) will bring a sense of humanity and humility to your organization. It’s truly magical and carries over to the product or service your company is providing. Everyone has a bad day. Ridicule or attacks will never fix anything. I strongly recommend businesses establish a company-wide culture of support. Bad days get better, but it takes a familylike company culture to turn them around. When your company is defined by balance and empathy, a bad day — or an entirely bad year — becomes just another obstacle you can and will overcome.


Outdoor ctivities A

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HIKES

h, the great outdoors! Is there anything better than Awalking among the wilds of wildflowers or taking in a blue, cloud-puffed sky from a trail winding through untamed terrain? Experience SoCal nature in all its wintry glory with these six hikes that’ll prove why they call this coast the best one yet.

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by Dana Janssen

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THE HIKE: Bommer Canyon Trail Head THE PIN DROP: 6400 Shady Canyon Trail, Irvine, CA 92603 THE RUNDOWN: This Irvine Ranch natural landmark, measuring more than 57,000 acres of open space, draws in hikers, walkers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and outdoor enthusiasts with its dramatic ancient oak, sweeping sycamore groves and rugged rock outcrops. Trails are open 7 a.m. to sunset every day of the week. Dogs aren’t permitted but the adjacent Quail Loop Trail is pawfriendly. Visit www.letsgooutside.org for information about self-guided hiking trails; some trails at Bommer Canyon require pre-registration for guided programs.


THE HIKE: Crystal Cove State Park THE PIN DROP: 8471 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651 THE RUNDOWN: With 18 miles of hiking trails fanning across 2,400 acres, Crystal Cove State Park offers a little something for everyone. Traversing the sharp descent and gnarly switchbacks of the Ticketron Deer Canyon Loop trail will remind you that this area is much more than a beach. Hikers and backpackers take advantage of campgrounds found in the canyon and backcountry higher elevations, which unfold with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The park is open 6 a.m. to sunset and only welcomes dogs on the three-mile, paved bluff trail on the coastal side of Pacific Coast Highway. Visit www.crystalcovestatepark.com for park specifics.

THE HIKE: Alta Laguna Park (“Top of the World”) THE PIN DROP: 3299 Alta Laguna Blvd., Laguna Beach, CA 92651 THE RUNDOWN: Visitors love the “Top of the World” because it boasts some of the best panoramic ocean views in Orange County. A web of quiet hiking trails spring from the zenith of Alta Laguna Park, with direct access to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The trails at Aliso and Wood Canyons vary in difficulty, from flat, wide fire roads to single-track, windy paths through the canyons. Spoiler alert: Whether you choose smooth or steep paths, there’s no wrong decision here; every trail in this park is prime for a hike, bike or even a picnic. Watching a golden sunset melt into a horizon separated by ocean and sky at Alta Laguna Park is nothing short of magic. Open 7 a.m. to sunset, the park is cool with dogs on a leash. For the latest “Top of the World” scoop, go to www.ocparks.com/parks/aliso.

THE HIKE: Back Bay Loop Trail

THE RUNDOWN: This well-marked trail affords plenty of chances to check out scenic stops like Upper Castaways Park, Back Bay View Park and Big Canyon. The trail meanders around the swampy Back Bay, perfect for butterfly and bird watchers seeking to experience Newport Beach’s natural scenery in its prime. For a lengthier escape, the Back Bay Loop merges with the 22-mile Mountains to Sea Trail, which runs all the way through Irvine into Weir Canyon. Back Bay is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset and is dog friendly, as long as you keep your dog on a leash. For all the details, visit www.newportbeachca.gov and search “Back Bay Loop Trail.”

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THE PIN DROP: 600 Shellmaker Rd., Newport Beach, CA 92660

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THE HIKE: Dana Point Sea Caves/ Pirate’s Cave THE PIN DROP: 34289 CA-1, Dana Point, CA 92629 (Note: This is NOT the actual location of the caves. This is the address of a Del Taco you’ll pass when driving southbound on Pacific Coast Highway from Newport Beach. Once you pass the Del Taco on your right, continue on about a block and turn right at the next road, Dana Point Harbor Drive. Travel another 1.3 miles to the parking lot at the end of the road.

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THE LOWDOWN: Unlike several sea caves down the Southern California coastline, these caves are some of the easiest to access. The short, 1.2-mile, round-trip hike leads directly to Pirate’s Cave, a large, picturesque cave framed by crashing waves and a postcard-worthy view. Pro tip: Plan your hike during low tide and wear comfortable shoes, so you can climb down the steps and navigate the rocks like a SoCal hiking champion. The caves are open sunrise to sunset daily, and aren’t dog friendly.

THE HIKE: Saddleback Mountain/Holy Jim Trail THE PIN DROP: Holy Jim Canyon Rd., Corona, CA 92883 THE RUNDOWN: Seeking adventure? The Holy Jim Trail might be for you. The trail offers access to Santiago Peak (also known as Saddleback Mountain), which at 5,689 feet, is Orange County’s highest natural vista. It’s a tough, 15.9-mile hike out and back, so if you’re not down for a serious trek up, you can always opt to visit the lessdifficult, lower Modjeska Peak. But if the mountain is calling, the view at the top on a clear day is seriously unbeatable. Dogs can join on a leash.


short fiction to escape

Mrs. Westphalia sipped her tea. She was getting very good, almost expert level, at making tea on the black varnished stove top shoved between the washing machine and her nightstand.

Invest in a solid stove. You won’t regret it on those frigid nights when you just need something to warm your belly. Nothing like it, really. Frank the salesman was right. The air inside her van had turned brittle tonight. Not even the space heater she bought at that drug store in Whitefish could toast a cold as bone deep as this. She missed Frank occasionally, even if she barely knew him. He had a certain easygoing charm that hummed from his thin, gray mustache to the roll of forehead shading his brow. For years, she’d pass Frank’s Van Shop & More on her way to work and when she sat at her desk and stared at those beige walls, Mrs. Westphalia would imagine opening the door to his shop. A bell tinkled at her unexpected entrance, and there next to a bright red “SALES EVERY DAY EVEN SUNDAY” sign would be Frank, standing in the middle of the showroom, smiling in a pink button-down with a “Frank” name tag pinned to his shirt. (As if she didn’t already know.) He would ask her what kind of van she wanted, and she’d smile, too, because she had no idea. “A green one?” Making photocopies, Mrs. Westphalia wasn’t actually standing in front of the large machine but driving slowly in her new van. Answering the phone – Mr. Zurk’s office, how may I direct your call? – she’d feel the cool wind in her hair and laugh at how she absentmindedly left the windows down (not again!) on this spiraling mountain road to nowhere. One Friday in April, she edged into her spot on the fourth floor of the office garage and before she could turn off the ignition, put the car in reverse. With a satisfying screech, her old Mercedes-Benz twisted down the parking structure and turned left onto McHull Street. It was raining, water sloshed against her windshield. A clap of thunder, another pour of rain and Mrs. Westphalia rode on, loving the drama of it all.

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Van

the

THAT MRS. WESTPHALIA BOUGHT by Melissa Kandel


If she wasn’t wiser, Mrs. Westphalia might’ve thought Frank’s Van Shop & More was closed. The lights were off and the parking lot, usually scattered with vans for sale, was empty. “Sorry, we’re in a bit of a blackout as you can probably tell,” Frank said as his doorbell chimed to the tune of Mrs. Westphalia’s footsteps. “Still selling today though, especially if you’re willing to buy with cash.” There are juxtapositions in life, she thought, when the rhythm of what you thought might destroy your light becomes the very thing that saves you. The Law Offices of Zurk & Benedict & Benedict LLP were having serious issues with their payment system; yesterday, they’d given Mrs. Westphalia her weekly salary in cash. Later in the afternoon, she planned to deposit it at the bank. She looked into the darkness of Frank’s Van Shop & More, patting the wad of cash in her pocket. “I do.” And with those words, so began the marriage of Mrs. Westphalia and a limegreen 1971 Volkswagen Bus with a rusting fuel door and 208,000 miles to its name. The van was the only one in the dealership she could afford. Frank, unsure how long the blackout would last, wanted to make at least one sale that day, so sold. “If this rain doesn’t stop, yours might be the only van we move,” he told her. “And I honestly thought we’d never sell this old boy to anyone.”

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“Lucky me.” Mrs. Westphalia wasn’t worried about the vintage van. Eventually, she’d fix it up with a new coat of paint and whatever else it needed to run with her forever. The road, once closed to her by a threewalled cubicle and a stack of unsent faxes, was finally open. Now she could follow its concrete currents anywhere. That first night she got as far as Bainbridge, Idaho. The second night she drove the van off the side of the road and parked it by a river protected by the gray of snow-spotted mountaintops. The sun fell, the moon rose, and Mrs. Westphalia finally understood the wild rush of letting go. Under the shadow of a waxing gibbous, gripping a cup of hot tea, she promised her van she’d never settle for law office secretary again.


She counted stars in Provo. She smoked her first cigarette in Paris, Wyoming. She slept on a California King at a two-room motel in Yosemite, watched the Big Sur tide and got a duck tattoo at a dive bar in Helena. If the breeze blew just right, she could still smell the whiskey that somehow got mixed with the ink on her wrist. Mrs. Westphalia’s newfound language was a lexicon of dusty roads and self-serve gas stations. She soon learned there was a certain way to speak to a convenience store employee if you wanted a fresh cup of coffee and not whatever sat dull in the pot. As for the art of navigating the geographic unknown, she’d become a master. Until

today, sitting on a vinyl chair surrounded by the silver hubcaps of Jonny’s Auto Repair in Newport Beach. It was only a matter of time until the van broke down, but Mrs. Westphalia thought she had figured out time, how to bend its yellow dashes to her whim. “Mrs. Westphalia?” “Yes?” A man appeared, his mustache thicker than Frank’s, hands stained with grease. “Hi there, I’m Jackson.” “Hello.” “So, we took a look at your van …” The next words hung lifelessly in the plasticsmelling air. Jonny’s Auto Repair was kept cooler than midnight on the plains of New Mexico. “It’s OK,” Mrs. Westphalia said, breathlessly calm. “Tell me.” She was no longer worried. The decision had been made before she stepped into the shop or figured out how to boil tea. “It’s not too bad, really. We can repair it; you’ll just be without your vehicle for about three days.” Her tattoo itched. Across the street, she could see a small music store. Something brown hung from the display window. Maybe a Fender Stratocaster. She’d always wanted a guitar. The bells attached to the front door of Jonny’s Auto Repair clanked as Mrs. Westphalia walked out, turning once more to Jackson and tossing him the extra set of keys to her van. “Keep it.”


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West Oceanfront Magazine • Winter 2020/2021  

Illuminating the final shadows of 2020 with an editorial gift of light. West Oceanfront Magazine Winter 2020/2021.

West Oceanfront Magazine • Winter 2020/2021  

Illuminating the final shadows of 2020 with an editorial gift of light. West Oceanfront Magazine Winter 2020/2021.