Last Monday, February 3, employees arriving at the Beach House Restaurant in Cardiff were surprised to learn they no longer had a job.
Servers Justin and Dylan arrived at 10:00 a.m. to find the owners taking items out of the building. The managing partner, Nick Pike, told them that the restaurant was closed.
“No one had a clue, “ said Justin.
The Beach House, at 2530 S. Coast Highway 101, had been a fixture on Cardiff’s beachfront Restaurant Row for 20 years. It offered oceanfront fine-dining downstairs and upstairs, with a light menu served on the deck overlooking the beach.
At 10:00 a.m. on February 5, some 20 employees showed up in the parking lot under the assumption the owners would be there by noon with their final paychecks.
The manager of the valet-parking service was also there with several of his valets. He said the restaurant owed his firm $25,000. A driver for Alsco linen service arrived to drop off the next week’s linens.
Servers Jenell and Alisha said the restaurant's quality had been going down for months.
“We lost most of our regular customers.” said Jenell. “We had mostly tourists; they’d come for the view.”
Alisha added, “Our paychecks often bounced. Sometimes we’d have to tell customers it was cash-only, that our credit-card machine was down, just to get enough cash to be paid.”
Other former employees said the manager put up work schedules last week and recently hired five new employees.
As the former employees milled around waiting, a banner was posted over the monument sign facing Coast Highway 101, reading, “Closed for Remodel.”
A former employee said it was “complete B.S. The building’s owners may be reopening, but those guys [the current owners] aren’t.” The general manager opened the back door of the restaurant. Some of the group went upstairs to the deck to grab a beer. Others were asked to wait outside.
Owned by the Pike family of Orange County, the restaurant’s flagship location in Laguna Beach closed after last summer. But these haven't been the only times the Pike family name has been in the restaurant news.
The Pike family was one of the franchisees for Bob’s Big Boy, which they attempted to revive in Southern California. The firm’s four restaurants in Baker, El Cajon, Hesperia, and Temecula have all closed. (Nine other franchised Bob’s Big Boys are still in operation in Southern California.)
The L.A. Times reported last year that a federal court ordered the Pike company to pay more than $40,000 in damages and franchise fees to the franchisor, Elias Brothers Big Boy, headquartered in Michigan, and to cease and desist using the Big Boy image and signs on their restaurants.
The Pike family also owns the “World’s Tallest Thermometer,” located next to the Baker Big Boy location. The I-15 landmark reportedly cost $8000 a month in electricity and was turned off a few years ago. It is reportedly up for sale for $1.25 million.