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Newport Beach’s Bluewater Grill set to reopen this month

Newport Beach’s Bluewater Grill set to reopen this month

When co-owner Jim Ulcickas closed down the Bluewater Grill on Lido Park Drive in January for minor renovations, he thought they’d be able to reopen in February, but there were delays. Now it looks like they’ll be able to welcome guests again this month.

Ulcickas said they signed off on a new lease in January, and he and co-owner Rick Staunton decided to update the interior of the restaurant to be more current and to mirror their other locations in Santa Barbara and Avalon.

The Newport Beach location, opened in 1996, was Bluewater Grill’s first and, according to Ulkcickas, the business has served at least 7 million customers since.

“What started out as a cosmetic makeover turned into a full-scale renovation,” said Ulcickas, who added that they had done a remodel when they moved into the location some two decades ago but didn’t change any of its interior structure.

“We went in to redo the floor in the kitchen, but we noticed as we were moving some of the equipment that there were structural elements that had deteriorated,” Ulcickas said. “We called the city and we said, ‘Hey, we need to do some work here,’ and we got a plan and addressed it. So, now hopefully, we’re back in business.”

Co-founders Rick Staunton and Jim Ulcickas, from left, look forward to the reopening of their Bluewater Grill restaurant in Newport Beach.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Residents have been clamoring online for the restaurant’s reopening date, with some leaving comments on the Bluewater Grill’s Facebook page and other local groups asking for updates.

Ulcickas was happy to announce he expects the restaurant will reopen toward the end of the week of April 11, though that will depend on city inspectors. Diners are encouraged to check with the location to make sure regular operating hours have resumed.

“We definitely kept the display kitchen with the counter where you can sit and watch the cooks. There’s not a lot of places where you can see a symphony of chefs putting up to a 1,000 meals a day. Seeing all the nonverbal communications, that’s part of the fun. We retained the counter,” said Ulcickas. “We have a nice patio, a little private patio. We retained the same shape, just updated all the tables, chairs, wall-coverings, stone, flooring and paint.”

Ulcickas described the new look to the restaurant as “contemporary but classic” and said the owners were sensitive to what their regulars liked about the Bluewater Grill. He said he and Staunton felt it was necessary to continue to make gradual changes to remain current while not leaning too hard into trying to be trendy.

“The contractors are blown away by the number of people who show up and poke their noses in and monitor the progress. We feel very fortunate to have such a loyal following.”

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