Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Parasol

The Parasol, Seal Beach (Rossmoor), CA.

There is some very exciting news afoot in the Googie community, as we speak! According to several good sources, it is confirmed that the iconic Parasol restaurant in Rossmoor/Seal Beach will be re-opening in 2007 as Orange County's first Mel's Drive-In!

Several changes have happened with the plans for The Parasol. Initially, the building was slated for demolition, along with Rossmoor Bowl and other locations in the shopping center. A group of upset members of the community banded together and called themselves "The Friends of the Parasol," and initiated a petition (which garnered over 10,000 signatures) to prevent the closure of the restaurant, which was popular with the nearby Leisure World retirement community. Once every other building in the center was leveled, it was clear that the Parasol would, in fact, be saved and renovated.

For about 6 weeks, the plan seemed solid, until a bit of news was released in late May. Roy Hall, the restaurant's operator, had been unable to reach an agreement on lease terms with Century National Properties, the landlord of the property, and so left the project. This put a bit of a damper on the situation. Even if the restaurant was restored, it would be done without many of it's most famous elements-- the parasol-shaped chandeliers and lamps.

But Century National Properties is still spending $1.5 million to renovate this little restaurant, which opened in 1967.

Mel's Drive-In is a perfect company to take over as tenant of this venerated Googie landmark. Operating since 1947, Mel's has operated out of some of the most outlandish Googie buildings. Featured in Lucas' American Graffiti, and functioning in Universal theme parks worldwide, the noteriety of the Mel's name, as well as their attention to the history of the building, should spell good news for the community. Rossmoor, a community with the highest gross income of any area in North Orange County, can now have their cake (keeping an old establishment with a long history), and eat it too ( a brand-new shopping center). The news was announced on August 31, 2006 in the OC Register. [link]

Thank you, Seal Beach, Century National Properties, and Mel's Drive-In for proving that Googie's got some worth, and can still be topical to our society today!

Here are several more links with pictures and information about The Parasol, for those interested:

  • Article in OC Weekly w/ interior photo, Aug 22, 2002. [link]
  • Article in OC Register about closure, Mar 15, 2006. [link]
  • Article in OC Register about closure, Mar 14, 2006. [link]
  • Article in Yahoo! Finance about new tenant (Mel's), Aug 31, 2006. [link]

The Parasol Restaurant
12241 Seal Beach Blvd.
Seal Beach, CA 90740


googiemel said...

I just want to leave a comment, because I try to work with a little semblance of professionalism and I try not to speak in the first person in my blog (it's not very academic), but it's actually The Parasol restaurant which inspired me to really study and observe Googie architecture. I had wanted to eat there before it closed, and when it closed without a word, I was horrified; I thought it was going to be demolished and that I had missed my chance. But this proves that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel, even for Googie.

Bob said...

Thanks for the cool update. The parasol was also the inspiration for my interest in Googie. But the parasol that I grew up with was on Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance. Back in June I posted and article on my blog when I feared the O.C. Parasol would suffer the same fate. Thanks for your efforts to document all the O.C. Googie we have left.

Major Pepperidge said...

I am very happy to hear that the Parasol will be around for years to come! Thanks very much for the news.

J-Bar said...

This just in, Mel's in the Parasol is now open. Read this:

J-Bar said...

Here's the direct link, sorry:

Feel free to share this story with your friends.