The last year of Alicia Whitney’s life has been hectic to say the least. The owner and founder of the uber successful SeaLegs Wine Bar located in both Huntington Beach and LAX, she’s added quite a few more babies to her family of restaurants.
SeaSalt Woodfire Grill was already under construction and scheduled to debut in April of 2016 when she placed a bid with the California State Parks at Bolsa Chica State Beach to open and operate four concessions along the three-mile stretch of oceanfront boardwalk. She figured she’d bid for all four to increase her chances and didn’t really expect to win as more than 30 other restauranteurs had applied as well. Alas, the world works in mysterious ways, and Whitney and her crew write a pretty darn good pitch (we’re talking 26 chapter plans for each location). She won all four, and just like that she was looking at not just the one opening in 2016, but five.
Sitting down with Alicia Whitney at the newly opened SeaLegs at the Beach it’s easy to see why she does so well in her businesses. She’s bubbly, fun, and genuinely loves what she does. She credits her right hand men, the esteemed chef, Alexander Dale and her VP of Operations, Omar Khashen for getting the ball rolling and keeping it rolling so smoothly. “We’re the trailblazers, the pioneers. There was nothing out there that was quite like what we were doing,” says Whitney. “I knew I had to do it, it was a lifetime opportunity. I knew I would kick myself if I drove by and saw that someone else had them.”
It was hard work, and hard work that needed to be done quick. With only months to get ready for business, they were faced with the task of bringing the dilapidated concessions that had been vacant for years back to life. A task that Whitney and her “dream team” tackled with flying colors. So much so in fact, that the state is hoping this will be the re-brand Bolsa Chica needs to compete with its neighboring beach towns. “Bolsa Chica is such a diamond in the rough and it’s not as utilized as the others even though it’s prettier and has the wetlands,” explains Whitney. “It’s truly paradise. It’s like we took a piece of Miami, a piece of Cabo, and a piece of the Hamptons and we get to call it Bolsa Chica.”
The menus for each concession are different and decadent. SeaLegs on the Beach’s award winning Champagne Brunch is already making a name for itself with their Bananas Foster French Toast, and there’s just something about eating their signature flatbreads on the sand with a glass of Rose at sunset.
Now, with only one more opening to go and the Fourth of July behind her (over 1,000 people celebrated at SeaLegs at the Beach over the holiday) Whitney can finally breath a sigh of relief. Every restaurant she touches turns to gold, and the people of Bolsa Chica like it. There’s a giant mural on the wall that boldly states, “If you are lucky enough to drink wine by the sea, you are lucky enough,” and Southern California, you’re in luck, because we’ve just found your local resort. Four of them.
*As seen on LocaleMagazine.com