Ranch & Coast Magazine

August 2023

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A Whale of a Return La Jolla's La Valencia Hotel answers the call for a classic to rise again HEN YOU'RE AN ICON, sometimes change can be a bumpy ride. And when you're the historic and revered La Valencia Hotel, with a public who's deeply invested in your role within the community, there's more than yourself to consider. So when the venerated pink La Jolla landmark made the decision to close its beloved but aging Whaling Bar in 2013 and merged the space with the adjacent Café la Rue, surely it wasn't made without careful and extensive research. But still. e public response to the transition was swift and not entirely favorable. "From a public perception, the love affair was and remains the Whaling Bar," says La Valencia General Manager Summer Shoemaker, who joined the hotel in 2019, well after the change took place. "It's been consistently a question of 'When is the Whaling Bar coming back?' I think probably even since the day that Café la Rue opened, to some degree." So, after a decade, La V has announced an about-face: the return of the Whaling Bar and the resumption of its rightful position on Prospect Street. According to Shoemaker, though public opinion was only softly solicited via a survey, people were more than eager to share their thoughts on what they'd like to see in its new form. "We didn't even broadcast or advertise it," says Shoemaker. "It was just lightly pushed out there, and we got over 600 comments and completed surveys back." In addition to the consensus on the need for the Whaling Bar's return, there was agreement on a few key elements that stood out to the La V team. "It was really surprising how many people consistently said over and over that they wanted it to be dark [inside] and that was of utmost importance, and how much they really cherished the booths," recalls Shoemaker, who says that the feedback was influential in design decisions for the new Whaling Bar. Of course, paramount to many was that the mural that graced the original Whaling Bar's walls — one BY DEANNA MURPHY | PHOTO BY VINCENT KNAKAL detour destinations W La Valencia General Manager Summer Shoemaker, SDCM Beverage Director Eric Johnson, SDCM Executive Chef and Managing Partner Brian Redzikowski, and SDCM Owner/ Operator Matt Spencer ranchandcoast.com 72 AUGUST 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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