Say ‘Farewell” to the Ritz in Newport Beach

The Ritz, which first put down roots near the Newport Pier in 1977 and then moved years later to the more upscale Newport Center, will shut its doors Feb. 15, the victim of changing tastes and a landlord who wants to move in “a different direction.”

The Irvine Co. opted not to renew the restaurant’s lease, choosing instead to convert the space into something other than a restaurant. The Ritz’s owners are hoping to find a new location, but nothing has been finalized.

With trendy restaurants such as Javier’s, Fig & Olive and Red O on the scene, perhaps time simply took its toll on the Ritz, a fixture among Orange County’s elite, who would gather for dinners served by a friendly staff adhering to strict formal dining standards.

“It was the movers and shakers that were there,” said Jim Allen, who frequented the Ritz for lunch. “It was, at the time, the place to be seen.”

Allen likened the restaurant in its heyday to a sort of country club and a home base for many businessmen. The most loyal joined the Ritz Brothers, who gathered five times a year and donated to charities. The Ritz Sisters, a similar group, formed later.

Allen recalled taking clients out for martinis at lunch and seeing well-dressed women come in at the fashionable hour of 1:30 or 2 p.m.

“There was a time when no other restaurant could even come close,” said Laurie Virtue, the restaurant’s controller. “We were it.”

But with competition and an evolving clientele, the restaurant has changed.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: