Huntington Beach

Ruby’s return to pier rejected

RUBY’S DINER at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier in 2018 (Shutterstock).

A proposal to return a Ruby’s Diner to the end of the city pier has been rejected in favor of a more elaborate – but potentially risky – choice.

The Huntington Beach City Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday – with Councilmember Erik Peterson opposed – to negotiate an exclusive negotiating agreement with Surf City Partners for an eatery referred to as “Huntington’s.”

That contradicted the recommendations of city staff and the city’s Economic Development Committee to support the bid of Ruby’s Hospitality Group LLC.

Councilmember Mike Posey supported Surf City Partners because his job is to “protect the taxpayer” and choose the proposal that would “lease for the maximum revenue.”

City Manager Oliver Chi said the city’s recommendation was based in large part on the issue of operating a business on that site. “It’s just too much for a small spot on the pier,” he said. But, he added, “if the council wants to go for the home run,” staff would do its part.

The proposal for Ruby’s, which operated a restaurant on the pier from 1996 to 2020, was for a smaller footprint than the existing building. The “new” Ruby’s would focus on a walk-up approach with a more modest menu featuring burgers, hot dogs, breakfasts and sweets. The base annual rent would be $90,000 for the property, which is owned by the city.

ARTIST’S RENDERING of the proposed “Huntington’s” eatery (City of Huntington Beach).

“Huntington’s” is envisioned as a “locals eatery” with indoor and outdoor dining featuring “high quality comfort food and beverages, including fine wines, local craft beers and libations.” Rent is projected at $180,000 a year.

The proposal by “Let’s Go Fishing,” which is renting the space, was not considered a strong candidate by city staff or the council, but will be permitted to remain open while negotiations continue.

Also on Tuesday night, the council:

  • approved extending temporary closure of the second block of Main Street to vehicular traffic through the end of 2021;
  • approved an agreement with Seaside Inc. LLC worth $150,000 for an outdoor ice skating rink at the Pier Plaza (Councilmember Erik Peterson opposed);
  • approved formation of a 2021 Charter Revision Committee – including seven alternates – to conduct a review of the city charter;
  • directed the Community Services Commission to work with other interested parties – including the surfing community, the Historic Resources Board and the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council – to develop a proposal for a public memorial honoring surfing icon Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti within 120 days.

The next regular meeting of the council is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 21.

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