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A Note from Shaena

A few weeks ago, StuNewsLaguna co-sponsored Rock for the Cause at Mozambique Restaurant, raising more than $8,000 for Friendship Shelter, a nonprofit that helps the homeless. 

Laguna holds hundreds of fundraisers each year, and often it is hard to know exactly how donations will help the cause involved. That’s why it is exciting to learn about Friendship Shelter launching its first outreach pilot program starting on July 5 in Laguna Beach’s downtown business district. You helped make it happen!

The goal of the program will be to connect homeless people downtown with resources that are available to them, and begin to work with them on ending their homelessness, according to executive director of Friendship Shelter, Dawn Price. (See article on Front Page I for more details.)

It warms my heart to know that this program is being tested and could prove so beneficial to the homeless – and to the Laguna Beach community. 

We’re all helping to make lives around us a little happier each time we volunteer and/or donate to causes like these – and this one is particularly dear to my heart, and was one of Stu’s favorites also.

Thank you for all you do.


 We Love Laguna and We Love What We Do!

And we’re having fun doing it thanks to you, our readers! 


Save trees – read StuNewsLaguna!


Don’t forget – call 715-1736with your news tips!

Press releases, emails, letters and cell phone photos - email:


Shaena & Lynette

Diane Armitage

Cocktail craft master Sean Melia takes on Laguna’s “Speakeasy”

If you’ve been reading my blog posts and StuNewscolumns long enough, you know that I have three favorite bartenders in Laguna Beach, each of which is an absolute master of mixology: 

Neil Skewes, resident genius at Starfish Asian Cuisine.

Adam Bernstein, resident genius at Sapphire Laguna.

Sean Melia, who was most recently at Okura.

These are the guys whose passion for cocktail creatin’ is a measured, researched science.

They’re the same guys, though, who will also ask your favorite flavors and mix something on the fly. 

The Masters of the Mix

This last Friday afternoon, I was sitting at Adam’s Sapphire bar and, when I waffled on my usual favorite cocktail there (his Buddha Margarita), he noted that he remembered that I prefer tequila and pineapple. 

As an average human, I will never understand how a bartender of this stature can remember so many details about each of his hundreds of patrons, but I’m always flattered and surprised when he’s able to whip up a unique blend that suits my fancy. 

Neil Skewes might be the best-ever at this skill, as he’s been creating and serving drinks to Laguna locals and diehard fans since before French 75 was constructed by David Wilhelm. He’s been at this for 30 years in Dana Point and Laguna, and is often called upon to consult on a restaurant’s opening cocktail list.

Sean Melia has been bartending in Laguna Beach for 26 years, first cutting his cocktail teeth in 1991 at The Saloon when it was still under the ownership of my good friend, Charlie Barr. 

Over the progression of years, Sean’s worked for Marc Cohen’s 230 Forest, at Romeo Cucina, Partners Bistro, Sundried Tomato and, then, Okura Sushi.

Now, This Place Be Jumpin’!

And now Sean Melia is settling in to The Durban Room, Mozambique’s gorgeous “speakeasy.” 

“This is the bartending job that everyone in Orange County wants,” says Melia with a giant grin. 

“We wanted to get someone in here who understands that creating cocktails can be entertainment in and of itself,” says Ivan Spiers, Mozambique’s owner. 

Photo by Diane Armitage

Laguna’s “speakeasy” – the Durban Room

“Sean is so fantastic at what he does – people love watching him work and interacting with him,” says Spiers. 

Recently redesigned as a Prohibition-style speakeasy by Hollywood Production Designer (and Laguna resident) Nelson Coates, the Durban Room will be expanding its hours this coming weekend (June 30) for late night dining and entertainment (Friday and Saturday till midnight). 

The Durban Room offers an opulent hideaway with the finest live R&B, full dinner menus, premier wines and whiskeys and, yes, craft cocktails of the craftiest kinds. 

Francois Dean, one of the most extraordinary musicians I’ve yet met, has taken up Friday evening residence in The Durban Room through the summer months. He will be singing his phenomenal R&B on the front end with an even livelier mix once the 10 o’clock hour strikes. 

With Sean and Francois in the house, I’ve pretty much died and gone to heaven.

Sean says he’s already started putting the word out to friends and loyal fans about the switch to the Durban Room at Mozambique. 

“I can’t wait to see their faces when they walk into this place,” says Sean. “I have friends who live a block away who say they’ve never been inside the Durban Room. It is, hands down, the best bar in South Orange County that no one’s ever heard about!”

With Sean Melia and Francois Dean in residence, I think this speakeasy’s secret may be out. 

Diane Armitage is the best-selling author of the book, The Best of Laguna Beach, and offers a cornucopia of ideas and upcoming events at her blog,

Something for everyone in our wilderness parks

Reservations required

Sign-up online:

949-923-2235. Parking: $3


Laguna Coast

Wilderness Park


Fitness Hike at Ridge Park

Thurs, June 29

8:30-11 a.m.

Raise your heart rate and your spirits on this moderate, fast-paced, 6.5-mile hike (700-ft. elevation gain) over very steep, uneven terrain with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteers. Ages 15 and up. Not for beginners. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Ridge Park Staging Area (Newport Coast Drive to Ridge Park Rd. east to end; meet at the gate.) Online reservations required. For questions, call 949-497-8324 Mon-Fri or 949-923-2200 Sat/Sun. Parking: Free.

Family Hike

Sat, July 1

3-5 p.m.

Come and enjoy an easy, 2.5-mile family hike over moderate but uneven terrain (45-ft. elevation gain). Starting at the James Dilley Preserve, we will hike one of the most diverse areas of the park to Barbara’s Lake and back. Hike is led by Laguna Canyon Foundation naturalist volunteers. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, James Dilley Preserve (I-5 or 405 south to 133 south to stoplight at 73 toll road; make a U-turn, go 1 block. Dilley is on the right). For questions, call 949-497-8324 Mon-Fri or 949-923-2200 Sat/Sun. Parking: $3/vehicle. Register online at website above.

Bird Walk, Nix to Barbara’s Lake

Sun, July 2

8-11 a.m.

Spot local native and summer resident bird with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists on this 1.5m hike over primarily flat, but uneven terrain through one of the most diverse plant communities in the US. No experience necessary. Ages 12 and up. (minors must be accompanied by an adult). Wear hiking or walking shoes and bring your binoculars (limited binoculars available on loan). Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area/Nix Nature Center (west side of Laguna Canyon Road/SR-133, approximately 3.5 miles south of I-5/405). For questions call: 949-497-8324 Mon-Fri & 949-923-2235 Sat/Sun. Parking: $3/vehicle. Online registration.


Aliso and Wood Canyons

Wilderness Park


No events during this time.


Bluebird Music in the Park is just around the corner

Bluebird Music in the Park concerts will begin on July 16 and continue every Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. until August 27.

Here’s the listing:

7/16: Cubensis (Grateful Dead Music)

7/23: Tom Nolan Band (Blues)

7/30: Hollywood U2

8/6: Stone Soul

8/13: Los Pinguos (Argentinian)

8/20: Upstream (Reggae/Calypso)

8/27: Springsteen Experience

Click on photo for a larger image

Music in the Park is always fun, whatever decade is celebrated

The City asks concert-goers to note the following:

The concerts are free and funded by the lodging establishments.

No dogs are allowed in the park.

No smoking is allowed on the sidewalk or inside the park.

Alcohol is allowed with a full meal. 

Free trolley service is available to the park.

City Hall

Committee Meetings – Etc.


Tues, June 27

City Council Meeting

6 p.m.

Mon, July 3

Emergency Disaster Preparedness Committee

6-8 p.m.

Susi Q Center

Community Room


Volume 9, Issue 51                                                                                  June 27, 2017

This summer, I will attend
This summer, I will attend
You must select at least one item to vote!

Events, programs at Susi Q

Events require advance registration by calling (949) 464-6645

Parking is Free!

Laguna Beach Seniors is on Facebook! Sign up to receive our newsletter:


Hearing Screenings

2nd Thurs | 1:30-3:30pm | Free

Hearing screening and consultationwith audiologist Dr. Rose-Marie Davisincludes complimentary hearing aid cleaningand minor repairs. Call 949-464-6645to schedule an appointment.

Family Caregiver

Support Group

2nd & 4th Wed | 3- 4:30pm | Free

Sharing confidential, emotional support and resources among caregivers.

Club Q Laguna

1st and 3rd Friday | 3-5pm

Join Laguna’s LGBT seniors for seasonal potlucks, free movies and snacks, speakers, and outside group events. In good company, the club also enjoys working on community service projects.

Ted Talks

1st & 3rd Tuesday | 10-12 p.m.

Limited Space

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, in the form of short, powerful talks. Contact Al Gumb if you’d like to join: 

Computer Assistance

Thursdays Noon-3pm. Please call ahead. One-on-one help with your laptop, smart phone, or tablet, PC & Mac/Apple, Windows 7&8.

Benefits Enrollment Center

Council on Aging and Laguna Beach Seniors introduce the Benefits Enrollment Center at The Susi Q to assist seniors and persons with disabilities find and apply for benefit programs.

Enrollment Available every first Monday 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. Free 

Call to register: 949-464-6645

Social Services Support

Feeling the Blues Counseling

One-on-one sessions for men and women.Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. 10 free sessions. Call for more information (949) 715-8104

More Susi Q events below

More events, programs at the Susi Q

Events require advance registration by calling (949) 464-6645

Parking is Free!

Laguna Beach Seniors is on Facebook! Sign up to receive our newsletter:


*NEW* Living Well with Cancer Support Group

2nd & 4th Tue | 10-11:30am | Free

A caring support group open to individuals over 50 touched by any type of cancer. For more information, reach out to facilitator Sandra Weiss at 949-499-5293 or email her at 

*NEW* Ties That Bind Men’s Group

Fridays | 11am-12:30pm | Free

For men 50+, get support from the general stress of everyday living and any other issues affecting your well-being. Open group, drop-ins welcome. Contact facilitator Clint Christie, M.A. at 949-715-8104 for details.

Care Management

Mon – Fri | 9am- 5pm |

Saturday (apt. only) | 9am – 1pm


Providing linkage to resources that promote safety and quality of life. Call for appt.

Small Circle Standing Yoga

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9-10am. $4 per class. The overall benefits will affect every aspect of your health and the quality of your daily life. Exercises can be performed while standing or while sitting in a chair. No floor or mat exercises are performed. Instructor: Wayne Lawrence

Adult Hula Lessons

Fridays from 1:30-2:30pm

$3 suggested donation per class. Come and dance the hula with us! The gentle and graceful movements will make you forget your troubles and mentally transport you to the islands. 

Take the bus to the Susi Q

The city’s blue buses now stop right in front of the Susi Q Monday – Saturday all day. 

Schedules will be posted at all bus stops, so getting here is easier than ever. You won’t have to deal with traffic or parking!

Interpreting Current Events 

Tuesday and Friday | 9:30- 11:30am

Join this discussion of newsworthy events, and topics of special interest.


Join us for Bingo every Monday and Thursday from 10:30-11:30am. Try your luck to win prizes and gift cards. National Charity League sponsors “Birthday Celebration Bingo” on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, from 10:30-11:30am. Free!

Monday Movie and Popcorn

Free every Monday from 12:30-3pm. See movie schedule at

Intermediate Ballroom Dancing

Mon | 2- 3pm | Intermediate | $7 per class – Drop-ins welcome! Waltz, Rumba, Swing, Watusi, ChaCha, Country two-step, Fox Trot. No partner required.  Instructor: Candis Davis

Health Insurance Counseling (HICAP)

1st & 3rd Mon | 9am- Noon | Free

Providing assistance and objective information to help seniors and disabled persons make informed decisions about health care coverage, Medicare benefits and supplemental insurance plan options.  Sponsored by the Council on Aging.  Call 949-464-6645 for an appointment.

More Susi Q events below

More events, programs at the Susi Q

Events require advance registration by calling (949) 464-6645

Parking is Free!

Laguna Beach Seniors is on Facebook! Sign up to receive our newsletter:


Free Legal Clinic

Seaside Legal Services

Providing professional legal assistance to seniors age 55+ who cannot afford counsel. Attorney’s Jane Fulton and Leslie Lindgren provide help and/or referrals for family law; health-related issues; consumer problems; conservatorships; housing; elder abuse; bankruptcy; wills and power of attorney. Must be an OC resident with proof of residency. Call first to make an appointment, 949-715-8104. No walk-ins.

Contemporary Short Story Seminar

2nd & 4th Tuesdays | 2 – 4 pm

Members will take turns leading discussions of selected stories. Contact Alison King, Ph. D. for more information: (714) 608-1322 or email her at:

Free Estate Planning Legal Advice

3rd Thursday of each month from 12-2 p.m. Local Attorney Leslie Daff is available to answer questions pertaining to estate planning, probate, and trust administration and to prepare and notarize financial powers of attorney, advanced health care directives, and HIPAA authorizations at no charge.

We have Bridge for all levels!

Call to find out about classes!


Bridge Group needs fourths

The Round Robin Bridge group is looking for new players and substitute players. The group meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 11:30am-2:30pm at the Susi Q. If interested, please contact Penny Joseph at

Tabletop Treasures

Every other Monday | 9am – Noon (check the front desk for schedule)

Fabulous recycled and second time around treasures for sale at bargain prices. Small donated items are always appreciated for drop off from 9am-3pm. No clothing please. Proceeds benefit weekly Bingo and fund the Laguna Beach High School Scholarship from LBS.

Heart to Heart

Join Laguna residents and facilitator Kay Wenger, LMFT, in a supportive atmosphere where concerns, coping skills, and helping tips are shared. This free ongoing group meets every Monday 10-11:30 a.m.

Open Game Room

Wednesdays | 12:30-4:30pm 

Game day fun including Scrabble, Mahjongg and other board games .

Needle Arts Guild 

The Susi Q Community Needle Arts Guild meets on the last Friday of every month at 1 pm creating handmade items for local organizations. 

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiver Support Group

Join us the first Wednesday of every month from 1-3 p.m. for an informational meeting and informal discussion.  Strategies will be shared for dealing with loved ones who are affected by the disease.

Table Tennis every week

Tabletop tennis, or ping pong as some might label it, is offered every Mon & Wed | 12:30 – 4pm

Friday | 12:30 – 2:30pm

Saturday times vary

There is a $25 annual fee. 

Bring your own paddle or borrow one of ours.  All we ask is that you wear non-skidding shoes. 

All levels of play are welcome!

Crystal Cove State Park

Family Plein Air Art Exploration

Tues, June 27, 9 a.m. - noon

These fun family workshops are intended for parents, grandparents, and children ages 8 and up.  During the three-hour program, family teams will explore the basics of plein air painting, and then each family member will create a masterpiece that captures the summer spirit of the Cove. Instructor: Alan Nowell Class Size: Limited to 12 Public Price: $80 for Adult & Child Pair / $35 for Each Additional Participant Conservancy Member Price: $65 for Adult & Child Pair / $30 for Each Additional Participant Ages: 8 - Up. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Where: Cottage #13 (The Beaches Cottage) What to Bring: Water, sunscreen, long sleeve shirt, hat, and stool or chair (optional). Parking: $15 Day Use fee per vehicle; free with State Parks annual pass.

Freesea glass jewelry class

making activity 

Wed, June 28,10 a.m.- 4 p.m. 

Held in the Education 

Commons in the Historic District at Crystal Cove State Park. Park in the Los Trancos lot - PCH inland at stoplight Los Trancos then walk across the street or take the shuttle. Day use fee.

Community Days 

Wed, June 28, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Every Wednesday in beginning June 28 through August 30, step back in time as the Education Commons comes to life with fun, historical activities for the whole family. Learn to sketch or dance, try your hand at a traditional craft, or explore the science of Crystal Cove State Park.

The Great Plein Air Exploration

Thurs, June 29, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Crystal Cove State Park has a long history of plein air artists painting and preserving its beautiful landscapes. Now every summer, you can be a part of this 100-year-old tradition! Spend a relaxing day with one of Crystal Cove State Park’s plein air artists while capturing the beauty of the Cove on canvas. No experience required; this introductory class is recommended for novices only. All supplies will be provided. Class size is limited to 12. Instructors: Laura Rosenkranz
Cost: General Public $85, CCA Members: $70 Ages: Minimum age is 18. Where: Cottage #13 (The Beaches Cottage) What to Bring: Water, sunscreen, long sleeve shirt, hat, and stool or chair (optional). Parking: $15 Day Use fee per vehicle; free with State Parks annual pass. All participants must fill out a liability release.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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