A company that operates waterfront restaurants in Hawaii and California is the top candidate to build a new restaurant at the base of the city pier, officials said Thursday.
If talks this week are successful, TS Restaurants will build a $5-million restaurant called Duke's Surf City to replace the former Maxwell's by the Sea, which closed early this year, city and company officials said.
The pierside restaurant would have a surfing theme and would be named after famed surfer Duke Kahanamoku, said Rob Thibaut, president and owner of TS Restaurants.
"We think this is perhaps the premier location in Southern California for our type of operations," said Thibaut, who was in Huntington Beach on Thursday for negotiations. The city, he said, is "providing us with the best location on the coast."
The company has 14 locations now, including Duke's restaurants on Hawaii's Waikiki Beach and in Kauai.
The new restaurant would be on the site of Maxwell's, which operated for years in an aged building that was condemned and closed by the city in January after winter storms undermined its foundation. The existing structure would be demolished to make way for Duke's.
Ron Hagan, the city's community services director, said TS Restaurants was "what we were looking for to be the main attraction at the pier and downtown." City Council members, he said, wanted something distinctive--"a destination attraction, and they also wanted a restaurant that would provide something for all demographics."
The new restaurant would be 16,000 to 18,000 square feet--less than half the size that the city and the California Coastal Commission approved for the location earlier this summer. Details of the building's design and a lease agreement with TS Restaurants would be worked out by the City Council in October, Hagan said.
The city selected seven finalists from the 26 companies that submitted proposals to open a pierside restaurant, Hagan said. It chose TS Restaurants, he said, for the quality of its food and service, its concept for the city location and because it has the financial means to build and operate the restaurant.