Member Spotlight: Lumberyard
Lumberyard longtime towny fave adds tasty twists to the menu
By J.J. Ballesteros, President, LB Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber Spotlight is meant to highlight a unique business member of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce
Since 2008, Lumberyard Restaurant has been a Laguna Beach favorite for locals and visitors alike. Centrally located across from City Hall and boasting alpenhaus chalet charm with quality food and friendly service, it is no surprise Lumberyard is a downtown dining staple. As a local, you are guaranteed to run into someone you know!
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Courtesy of the LB Chamber of Commerce
(L-R) Cary Redfearn and J.J. Ballesteros
Owner Cary Redfearn’s affinity for our alluring beach community was sparked early on. Cary discovered Laguna Beach in the late 1960s while on family trips from LA to bodysurf with his Dad. Over the years, Cary made Laguna Beach his home – he regularly visited his parents (who moved here in 1974), rooted and raised his own family here, opened The Lumberyard in 2008 and most recently Slice Pizza in 2017. Having raised his kids in Laguna, Cary understands the importance of giving back to the community. He served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in 2017-2018, and has supported several of Laguna’s non-profits over the years; including: SchoolPower’s Chef Challenge, Laguna Beach High School Boosters, Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Laguna Playhouse, Suzy Q Center and the Friendship Shelter.
I sat down with Cary to learn more about his perspective on running a business in Laguna Beach and what has made him a successful restaurateur.
J.J. Ballesteros: With so many years of restaurant experience in different cities, what was it about Laguna Beach that made you want to open a restaurant here?
Cary Redfearn: Those family trips in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. They convinced me that I wanted to wind-up in Laguna Beach at some time in my life. After I graduated high school in 1974, my folks moved to Laguna and each visit to see them convinced me that there are few, if any better places to live. When the time came for me to open my own restaurant, I looked in Laguna and found a few intriguing locations, but my business partner wasn’t a fan because of the lack of parking. We ended up opening Oysters restaurant in Corona del Mar, and I ran it for more than 21 years. Eventually, the Lumberyard location became available in 2008 and I jumped in with both feet!
J.J. We all know a restaurant needs three things to have a chance at being successful: quality food, great service and a friendly atmosphere. Your hospitable approach of checking in with customers around the restaurant sets you apart. Why is this important to you?
C.R. My favorite part of owning and managing a restaurant is getting to know my guests and interacting with them. I like taking food and drinks to tables – it allows me the opportunity to check in with tables with purpose, rather than just walking around and inquiring “how is everything?” Along with my managers, we are part of the service model – when a server, bartender, food runner or host gets too busy, we can step in and assist thereby keeping the flow and quality level of service consistent. Of course, being on the floor also allows me to talk about the menu and recommend new food items, wines and spirits.
J.J. The pandemic impacted everyone and every business in town. What were some of the keys to making it through the tough stretches?
C.R. Staying nimble and keeping up with all of the information coming from Health Agencies and federal, state and local government. Taking over the Yard Bar with approvals from my landlord and the City of Laguna Beach saved my restaurant. Once we were allowed to serve guests outside, we were able to bring back the entire staff. In addition, the parklet in front of Slice expanded the opportunity for outdoor dining and helped create a nice synergy with the street scene on Forest Avenue.
J.J. You were a past Board Member of the Chamber and still remain a voice for the business community at pertinent Council Meetings. Why do you feel it is important to do so?
C.R. Laguna Beach is a special town – I have been vacationing and visiting for decades, purchased my first home here in 1988, raised my family here, sent my kids to the Laguna public schools and now I own two businesses in town. I think my experiences as both a resident and business owner provide some practical insight as to the needs of both constituencies. Most especially in small communities, every voice matters; the more residents and business owners contribute to the discussion, the better equipped we are for the present and guided for the future.
J.J. The downtown and overall business in Laguna continues to evolve. Related to this, are there any changes or things you would like to see differently?
C.R. Parking – I wish we had built an attractive structure at the entrance to town 30 years ago to help alleviate traffic downtown and reduce congestion as people search for spots and/or park in the neighborhoods. Hopefully, we’re finally moving forward with the proposed parking project as I believe it will benefit both residents and visitors. It’s not the complete answer to our parking problem but it’s a start – additional “pocket parking” throughout town would help too. Both of my restaurants actually have parking so this is not a selfish desire but rather a solution to a major issue that most of our city guests face.
J.J. Is there anything else you would like us to know about you or The Lumberyard?
C.R. Tinned Fish and It’s-It Ice Cream! We’re now selling platters of my latest obsession, conservas (also known as “tinned fish”) at Lumberyard. These delightful tins are not the ones you grew up seeing at the local grocery store, but rather the best line-caught or pole-caught sustainable fish and shellfish from Spain and Portugal. They are also packed in olive oil, loaded with Omega-3s, and delicious! At Slice, we’ve introduced It’s-It Ice Cream sandwiches. I grew up in the Bay Area where It’s-It Ice Cream sandwiches started. They are delicious homestyle cookies, ice cream in the middle, and the whole thing is dipped in dark chocolate. It’s our latest offering – yum!
Above all else, I have a fantastic staff for which I am incredibly grateful for. We love being part of the Laguna Beach community!
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As a resident Laguna local, if you have not been to either of these iconic restaurants, now’s the time. Catch Cary behind the bar or walking the floor at either Lumberyard or Slice Pizza and ask his recommendation on the latest libation or tasty creation.
Lumberyard: 384 Forest Ave #10, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Call 949.715.3900. www.lblumberyard.com
Slice Pizza: 477 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Call 949.715.3993. www.slicelb.com.