What’s up with The Drake, Wild Taco, and Red Dragon: progress details and updates


Residents have been eagerly anticipating the opening of three local restaurants – The Drake, Wild Taco, and Red Dragon. As reported, “City staff is aware of the following progress” on two of the locations.

The Drake

Laguna Beach’s Director of Community Development Greg Pfost says that construction is well underway at The Drake, and it will open when completed. While the restaurant may open as early as sometime in August, they do not have a confirmed opening date.

The Drake, located at 2894 S Coast Hwy, is the project of executive chef and ownership partner Paul Gstrein (formerly of Bistango and Bayside) and sons, including his sous chef son Nick Gstrein. The culinary team will feature modern California fare with global influences. The restaurant will also have a piano bar lounge, an enclosed firewall patio, and will feature live music nightly – jazz, R&B, and blues. 

Whats up The Drake

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Courtesy of Facebook

The Drake during construction – “Where great food meets great music”

The Drake, named after the famous New York City hotel, is an expanded version of the Tabu Grill space at the corner of Nyes Place and Coast Highway.

Wild Taco

 “Wild Taco submitted for a building plan check and the tenant improvement plans are currently under review by the City. Once the permit is issued, they may move forward and complete construction and then open. No opening date is available at this time,” says Pfost. 

Wild Taco, owned by Bear Flag Fish Co, is proposing a 56-seat fast casual restaurant (in the building formerly occupied by Johnny Rockets) serving Baja Californian cuisine with a farm-to-table style menu dedicated to sourcing the freshest ingredients from produce, farm-raised organic meats, and locally caught wild fish. There will also be beer and wine service. It’s located on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Coast Highway.

Whats up Wild Taco

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Wild Taco took over the building formerly housing Johnny Rockets 

The interior design will draw influence from Baja California and California surf culture. No alterations to the building exterior were proposed at the time the process began earlier in the year. 

Red Dragon 

Jim Conrad, local architect in charge of the Red Dragon project, says that the halt in construction has been a result of a disagreement between the City and Coastal Commission on exactly what is a minor and major remodel – and whether the demolition exceeds the limits. 

Before the new property owner Enshan Zhao bought it for three million dollars, the owner of the property at 680 S Coast Hwy – a location that once housed the popular Mosun Sushi & Sake and Club M – kept the place dormant.

Construction initially began in January of 2018.

According to Conrad, the Coastal Commission didn’t want to allow the construction to continue, but the City determined Red Dragon has not exceeded the limits and construction may be resumed. However, it must wait until after the summer, since it will require lane closures that would further bog down summer traffic.

According to www.reddragonca.com, Red Dragon will be a new upscale Chinese restaurant that will provide authentic Cantonese cuisine (meals and dim sum). The project will feature a fine dining restaurant, including private rooms, a terrace, an indoor bar and lounge, a rooftop bar and lounge, and an exterior patio dining area.

Stu News will continue to provide updates on these projects, including opening dates when announced.