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Club Sandwich Takes on New Meaning at Eatery

Dining: Golf-themed restaurant backed by Kevin Costner and Jack Nicklaus is planned for an early 1999 opening at South Coast Plaza.

July 23, 1998|LESLIE EARNEST | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Clubhouse International, a celebrity-backed restaurant venture, said Wednesday it will open a golf-themed eatery and pro shop at South Coast Plaza early next year.

The Clubhouse . . . Where You Belong, will open next to Robinsons-May following a $10-million construction project, which is now underway.

Investors in the Illinois-based company include actors Kevin Costner and Robert Wagner, and golfers Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples. The project is designed to make customers feel they are part of an exclusive club.

"It's really as beautiful as any private club in the world, but we're priced for everybody," President Keith Rudman said.

The standard menu features entrees that cost between $9.95 and $16.50. The "premium menu" lists a steak dinner for $34.95. Customers will be called "members."

Rudman said the celebrities are likely to visit the club regularly, particularly Costner, Wagner and Couples, who have homes in the Los Angeles area.

"Their money's on the table like my money is and they're very active in our business," Rudman said. "They're as excited about the Clubhouse as we are."

The company said it decided to build a second Clubhouse because of the success of its flagship restaurant in Oak Brook, Ill. Clubhouse International plans to develop 35 more restaurants in the United States and abroad by 2003.

Rudman said the company selected Costa Mesa for its second site after its real estate representative said, "The best place in the country to go is South Coast Plaza, if you can get in." A deal was struck following meetings with the center's owners and managers, he said.

The Clubhouse is replacing the Riviera Restaurant, which closed earlier this year after 31 years.

While design details have not been finalized, the 17,500-square-foot eatery will look much like the Illinois restaurant and pro shop, which resembles a posh clubhouse with marble floors, a sweeping staircase, Persian rugs and velvet drapes. A ticker tape runs continually above the bar, keeping patrons apprised of stock prices.

The exterior will be brick and limestone with copper cornices and limestone columns.

The Clubhouse will have about 200 employees, Rudman said.

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