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San Clemente Journal

H.H. Cotton’s - Making Things New

Jun 06, 2023 11:34AM ● By Nina Welch

Maureen Aitken, Head Chef Javier Sanchez, Katie Carrolla and Chris Aitken.

By Nina Welch
A prominent restaurant on the corner of Ola Vista and Avenida Del Mar has launched a rediscover H.H. Cotton’s Campaign during their seventh-year anniversary. According to Chris Aitken, owner and operating partner, the remodel includes new flooring, new bar, outdoor dining space, and a complete renovation of their backroom area, fittingly called the Hamilton Room.

The largest event space in the downtown area, it features vintage photographs of Henry Hamilton Cotton and President Nixon. Private events such as wedding rehearsal dinners, birthday celebrations, cocktail parties, fundraisers and live music and dancing takes place in this refurbished room. Chris’ wife, Maureen Aitken, is the Private Events Manager in charge of organizing the events.

The favorite occasion of H.H. Cotton’s is the Fifth Annual Marine Thanksgiving Feast. Last year, 225 Marines came to the restaurant to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. According to Maureen, this heart-warming, worthwhile event is sponsored by local businesses. Last year, each marine received a goody bag, which included socks from Stance and a sandwich coupon from Jimmy Johns. A raffle also took place with the chance to win gaming systems and speakers, purchased at Costco with funds donated by the business community. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, called in to thank our local Marines for their service.
   A big draw to the Hamilton Room is the ever-so popular line dancing, which is a fun and social way to enjoy music and exercise with choreographed steps. The best news is you don’t need a partner. You have a whole line of partners. 

On Monday introduction to line dancing is from 5:30-6:30pm. Dance instructor Anne Leslie calls the steps to a group of her students and curious onlookers to teach beginner line dancing. Intermediate to advanced lessons are from 7-8pm. The fee is $10 paid directly to the instructor.
Free line dancing to D.J. music continues from 8-9:30pm with a different vibe. A younger demographic, men in cowboy attire and women in fringe boots and Daisy Dukes, do the line dance with fervor. Turn-turn, clap-clap, shake-shake, shimmy-shimmy. After an hour of the dance workout, one woman remarked that she clocked in at 7,000 steps on her watch, which equals to approximately 3 ½ miles. 

Another popular happening at Cotton’s includes a full-scale live music program. Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, varied types of music performances rock the restaurant, and one can dance with a partner to the larger bands in the Hamilton Room.
Both attorneys, Chris and Maureen are San Clemente residents since the 1970s. Chris is active in the community as the former long-term Chair of the San Clemente Downtown Business Association, and he’s on the Chamber of Commerce Board. The couple raised their four children in San Clemente, Tyler, Notre Dame graduate in business, Jack, NYU, Tisch School of Music, Shane, who will be playing volleyball for UCI next year, and Annalise, a high school freshman who performs in local musical theatre. 

Come to H.H. Cotton’s for line dancing, live music, brunch with bottomless mimosas, and don’t forget to enjoy Chef Javier’s Pozole Bowl. For special events information, the brunch menu, and the live music schedule, go to