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San Clemente Journal

Landers Liquor Bar & Supply House - A Venture into Uniqueness

Oct 13, 2021 12:10PM ● By Mary Colarik

Landers has something for everyone.

by Mary Colarik

Chance Owen, the owner of the recently opened restaurant, Landers Liquor Bar and Supply House in North Beach, was instantly engaging and enthusiastic about his family’s new endeavor when we met at the venue on a weekday afternoon in early June. 

Raised mostly in Pasadena, Owen has always been intrigued by the architecture of the gorgeous Spanish style houses and buildings that are prevalent in many communities throughout California, and he has chosen one of the original restaurant buildings in the North Beach area to house his newest venture. 

 

The historic site he chose first housed The Aquarium Café Restaurant, and was opened 90-years-ago in May 1931. In those days, its uniquely themed restaurant had huge fish tanks with bright, colorful fish swimming in water pumped in from the ocean, as well as a large maple dance floor - very inviting for people of all ages. A beautifully preserved Spanish style building, with amazing dark wood beams, this structure has since featured seven different restaurants over the last nine decades.

Owens high school years were spent in Three Rivers near Sequoia National Park, and he attended San Diego State University graduating with a degree in Marketing and Communication where he met Kim Owen, a fellow Marketing and Communication major, who owns and operates the retail side of the business. Working together, Landers Liquor Bar and Supply House, is once again becoming a fun and entertaining restaurant complete with homemade style food prepared on the premises, stiff custom crafted cocktails, and retail therapy in the offering; a little something for everyone.

 

Owen chose the name Landers for his two restaurants because of the time he has spent over the years in Landers - a small, unincorporated community in the high desert near Joshua Tree National Park. The community is known for Giant Rock, the largest free-standing boulder in the world, Integration, a circular building, the only all-wood acoustically perfect sound chamber in the USA, and incredibly starry, starry nights. This is where Owen often heads to embrace riding dirt bikes through endless open trails. His motto for both his restaurants, Landers in Costa Mesa and now here in San Clemente is, “inspired by the high desert, influenced by the coastal lifestyle.” His infectious spirit and attitude embody the uniqueness of all that the California lifestyles offer individuals.

Inside, Landers restaurant occupies a large circular space featuring a wraparound bar, surrounded by cozy booths and a sizable outdoor patio with a welcoming ocean view. The interior perimeter of the building houses merchandise - apparel and lots of interesting and fun vintage items. Landers branded goods are inspired by American - industrial work wear, western styles, surf and Moto attire. The unique mix of additional items follows a similar theme, carefully combining the curated new pieces with vintage and found objects. Some intriguing items on display and for sale include, a 1959 BSA motorcycle, USA Flag, a distressed-painted 1965 test bomb, blue and yellow glass objects which flank the front window. An unusual find noticed by my companion, was a vintage Aloha salt and pepper shaker set. One of the more permanent pieces, in the middle of the restaurant, hanging from the ceiling right under the skylight, are gigantic, 1940s rustic windmill blades found in Warner Springs … definitely a conversation piece for patrons enjoying drinks and food at the bar.

My companion and I had the pleasure of meeting the Executive Chef, Albert Lopez. Lopez was previously the chef at the luxurious Peninsula in Beverly Hills and at the Hollywood Bowl. Lopez discussed the various menu offerings and came up with a smattering of small dishes for us to try including: mussels in a broth of white wine, lemon zest, shallots, garlic and sherry vinegar served with bread for dipping in a yummy broth. My dining companion remarked, “the broth is what makes an outstanding mussels dish.”  

 Next, came a decadent mac and cheese made with shell pasta, two cheeses, sharp cheddar and Monterey jack, perfectly baked and browned; a shaved pear salad, consisting of Lola Rosa lettuce, dried cranberries, Comice pears, red mustard frill, roasted pepitas and goat cheese dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette; branzino, a mild Italian sea bass, and braised short ribs, served with potato puree. Wow! All delicious! And although I enjoyed everything tasted, my favorite was the mussels. My companion, however, preferred the pear salad which has the option of adding avocado, steak or chicken. Lopez and the bar manager/drink designer, Isle Anderson both mentioned another standout customer favorite is the Fried Chicken Sandwich. There are several appetizers, salads and entrees on the menu. Currently, no desserts are featured, although they hope to have Lauduree Macarons soon. 

The drink offerings are fabulous. First, Owen had the bartender serve a Prescription Chardonnay - very delicious and refreshing. Next, Anderson prepared a Calamity Jane cocktail, (one of 11 specialty drinks), consisting of tequila, jalapeno, watermelon, orange, and pineapple juice - refreshing, with a bit of spicy zing. My companion enjoyed the colorful Cowboy drink, made with vodka, watermelon juice, pea seed flower and simple syrup. Most of the cocktails have a western themed name such as The Duke and Copperhead, and also offered is their interpretation of the Chocolate Espresso Martini … Jitter Juice. Several beers, including a rotating draft beer, red and white wine, rose, sparkling wine and champagne, and an extensive, impressive list of spirits are also available.

Owen’s main career focus remains rooted in the apparel/wholesale and manufacturing industry, however, he and Kim and their children, Chloe, (a senior at Chapman University) and Caden, (a sophomore at the University of Arizona) all work at both the Costa Mesa and San Clemente locations. They embrace the restaurants as their extended family with great people working to create the Landers vibe. Dan Thompson rounds out the management staff at the San Clemente spot, and the entire staff was so super friendly and welcoming that we spent the afternoon enjoying the retail space and atmosphere in both the bar and restaurant. 

 

In his free time Chance and his son often head out to Landers to ride dirt bikes or take a spin around local tracks, yet they can also be found surfing locally, at Uppers, Lowers or San O. He and Chloe enjoy riding their Harley’s down the PCH from Landers in Costa Mesa to the San Clemente Landers. This family seems to thrive on work hard, play hard energy.
Plans for the San Clemente location include a Western Night, Bike Night, Live Music and DJ music nights as well as community engaged pop-ups.

Take a step inside this iconic building steeped in our Spanish Village by the Sea history, and you might have a chance to engage in a lively conversation with Owen whose infectious, talkative spirit will keep you entertained while tasting good food and drink. Personally … I’m looking forward to enjoying more mussels and another Calamity Jane soon, and hopefully by the time you are reading this Landers will be offering a Sunday Brunch menu.
     
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