Monday, September 18, 2006

News Release: Laguna Had a Gay Ol' Time on Labor Day Weekend

Laguna Beach Has Record Labor Gay Weekend

LAGUNA BEACH, CA - Laguna is back. In speaking to residents, visitors and gay and straight business owners in Laguna Beach the past two weeks, it is apparent that the 2006 three-day Labor Day Weekend broke all records.

"There has been a buzz here all summer," said Joel Herzer, owner of Woody's at the Beach, 1305 South Coast Highway, a predominantly gay Restaurant and Bar in Laguna Beach. "Business has really picked up over this past summer, and we just recorded a 25% increase in our sales and profit over last Labor Day. And Labor Day 2005 had been our biggest Labor Day Weekend since we opened our doors in 1998.

"Thanks to all of the attention that the Boom Boom Room has been getting throughout the summer, the whole town has really picked up. We are getting so many first time visitors to Laguna and our old customers are going out more often. It reminds me of when I first moved to Laguna Beach in the mid 80's. The gay vibe is definitely back in Laguna," stated Herzer.

The Boom Boom Room was recently given a second life thanks to building owner Steven Udvar-Hazy, who extended the landmark bar's lease for another year. The Boom was set to close on September 4th, but the extension will keep it open. It has been a gay bar in the same location for over 60 years, and is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the western United States.

The grassroots effort to SAVE the BOOM!!! began a petition drive Memorial Weekend and during the summer was successful in gathering over 5,000 signatures from residents and visitors alike. The petition urges the Laguna Beach City Council to help keep the Boom Boom Room and the Coast Inn permanently open as a gay bar and hotel.

"Laguna Beach is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego," added Herzer. There are over half a million gay people living within a 60 mile radius of Laguna Beach. If only 1% of them came to Laguna for a weekend the City would be flush with cash and all the gay and straight businesses would really prosper. We need to actively go after this $15 billion a year gay travel market," concluded Herzer.

Joel can be reached at: 949/376-8809


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We're Still Here

This week has been quiet on the Save the Boom front, but news stories are still trickling in.

Here are two stores from San Francisco's leading gay newspaper, the Bay Are Reporter:
A story on our initial efforts and a story on our recent success.

And the September issue of DOT is still not online, but they did a great story:

and this from Coast Magazine:

Last year, the South Coast Inn (Laguna Beach's second oldest hotel) and the famous Boom Boom Room was sold for $13 million to Beverly Hills billionaire Steven Udvar-Hazy, who reportedly planned to replace the inn and the popular Boom Boom Room with an 11-room boutique hotel and restaurant. Some locals feared that the loss of the Boom Boom Room “the oldest gay bar in the western U.S.“ was another sad sign that Laguna Beach's gay community is gradually shrinking.

However, Laguna Beach resident Fred Karger fought hard to keep the party going at the big Boom. He assembled volunteers, tried negotiating with the new owner, collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition, and put together an informative website to help save this beloved bar. Luckily, it worked: the bar's current owners extend their lease for another year.

Housed inside the South Coast Inn (Laguna Beach's second-oldest hotel), the Boom Boom Room benefited from the flourishing coastal area. However, it didn't start out that way. The Boom Boom Room "then called The Seven Seas" opened in 1927 as a serviceman's bar. Starting in the late '70s, the historic club and bar became a center for the city's burgeoning gay community. Soon, with celebrities like Rock Hudson and Bette Midler stopping by, patrons both gay and straight were waiting hours just to get inside.
For more information, visit

ALSO: We'll keep you posted on our efforts and the result of our petition drive. And as always, be sure to stop by the Boom for a drink or dinner.