Chef Craig Strong, after serving nine years as executive chef at award-winning Studio restaurant, is opening and cheffing his own restaurant, Ocean at Main, in downtown Laguna Beach. Located at 222 Ocean Avenue near Main Beach, Ocean at Main is in the former Taverna location and is slated to open by October 2018. It will be open daily for lunch and dinner.
Strong, who presently lives in Laguna Beach with his family, warmly envisions the 126-seat, 4,500-square-foot Ocean at Main as a welcoming establishment in this idyllic Southern California community. To help achieve his goal, the restaurant, which received a $2 million renovation when it became Taverna, will undergo a physical refresh by Laguna-based Laurie Alter of Tuvalu Home and a rebranding spearheaded by Strong. Dylan Cloughen, who worked with Strong previously and was most recently with the Mina Group, will serve as general manager.
Ocean at Main is located in the early 1940s iconic building that housed the venerable Laguna Beach financial institution, Laguna Federal Savings, whose motto was, “We’re local and we love it.” The historic building’s structure and existing Mission Craftsman-style will remain like the prominent wooden beams, trim and cabinets. And Tuvalu, known for its use of coastal-centric design, will introduce new tables and upholstered and cushioned chairs and ocean blue, sea glass and sea foam hues to the indoor dining area, bar and lounge and outdoor patio with its stunning focal point – an existing tiled mural and fountain.
Strong’s commitment to providing a warm, approachable Southern California dining experience is a culmination of his years at top-level fine dining establishments, including Studio at Montage Laguna Beach, The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa, Hotel Arts Barcelona and The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, Georgia. Strong will continue to support the local agricultural community and regional purveyors he has worked with over the years.
He will serve chef-driven, seasonally changing dishes that highlight pristine ingredients – paying tribute to his French mentors like Paul Bocuse, with a slightly “lighter hand.” California’s diverse, fresh products and healthy lifestyle choices will be reflected on the menu, offering just-caught seafood and other mains, along with an emphasis on straight-from-the-farm vegetables. The menu will include flat breads – making use of the kitchen’s existing pizza oven. Crafted cocktail, beer and wine lists will celebrate local talents and resources.
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