Owners said logistic discrepancy led to lease termination

Sue, left, and Mike McGeary stand outside the business Beach Garden Café on Friday. They will have to close after July 31 as their lease was not renewed. Photo: Eric Heinz
Sue, left, and Mike McGeary stand outside the business Beach Garden Café on Friday. They will have to close after July 31 as their lease was not renewed. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz

One of San Clemente’s Pier Bowl businesses will have to move at the end of the month, after its lease agreement was not renewed.

The owners of Beach Garden Cafe, Sue and Mike McGeary, said their lease is not going to be renewed after almost 20 years. The cafe is located at 618 Avenida Victoria, right near San Clemente Pier.

“The issue is with our cooking equipment,” Mike said. “We have a hood motor that’s located outside of our building in between our building and the new building (located next to the business). Our property owner wanted to put stairs between us and the new building, and they asked us to relocate that hood motor.”

The owners said they looked at “ventless” systems, but because they emit heavy grease particles in a small area, Sue said that wouldn’t be feasible. Additionally, they said no one would recommend them doing this.

After exhausting resources on restaurant consultants and trying to find a way to keep the lease, it wasn’t enough to persuade the owner, Mike said.

“We just didn’t realize we were going to be done,” Sue said.

Sue McGeary works during a busy Friday morning at Beach Garden Café. The café will close after July 31 as the lease was not renewed. Photo: Eric Heinz
Sue McGeary works during a busy Friday morning at Beach Garden Café. The café will close after July 31 as the lease was not renewed. Photo: Eric Heinz

Both Sue and Mike said they are not sure if they will seek another location. They said it’s in their plans, but nothing has been explored at this time.

In 1993, the couple purchased the Pier Market, adjacent to Beach Garden Cafe, which had brought them to San Clemente from Diamond Bar. Their son now owns the market.

They attribute a well-rounded business method to their success by providing “great food, caring about our customers, building relationships, great servers, great cooks—the whole package,” Sue said.

The Beach Garden Cafe is the undisputed champion of the clam chowder cook-off at Seafest in San Clemente, winning the top prize nine years in a row.

Working with the family has also been enjoyable, Mike said.

“We’ve just met generations of people,” Mike said. “It was fun to watch it grow. From how little it did when we opened to what it does now is shocking.”

Sue said she will miss the employees, customers and other people who they would meet near the café.

“What I’ll miss is the people, my friends, my customers, my employees,” Sue said. “It’s all about the people.”

Mike also thanked his loyal customers who he said have shown remorse for the loss of the location.

“We appreciate their business and we think the world of them,” Mike said.

The last day Beach Garden Cafe will be open in its current location is July 31.

“At least if we’re going to close, we’re going out on top,” Sue said.

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comments (9)

  • Come be a part of the North Beach area we would love to have you as a part
    of the wonderful revitalized Historic District and Art District. Im pretty sure
    you will find it easier to do business hear and rewarding to be part of the
    new fun friendly North Beach. To all business that are being pushed out of
    their long term locations, we welcome you with open arms.
    From the North Beach Art District

  • I hope that if you wish to continue on, a viable options becomes available for you. You have served this community for so many years on so many levels; I know your patrons would follow you anywhere. I’m with Don, come to North Beach!!!!! Hugs and best of luck.

  • You have the best clam chowder and employees and train and pier view we’ve seen anywhere. We hope you can relocate close by. Thanks for many fine memories at what we consider to be a beautiful and delightful family restaurant!

  • WHAT???????? As a former employee of the Beach Garden, a very PROUD former employee, it seems like this is an absolutely terrible idea! Now I know why when I drove by on the 4th looking for parking so I could come say Hi to Sue (which I didn’t find), that she was wearing a sad face. This news hurts my heart in so many ways. The Beach Garden is part of the heart and soul of the pier bowl, and it’s a shame the owners won’t work to find a resolution. There ALWAYS IS ONE. Love you both, Mike and Sue. There are going to be a LOT of sad and, frankly, shocked folks. I know I am both of those things.

  • I too vote for a North Beach move, we would love to have them. Always loved the restaurant, and it’s the people who make our town the best — good luck to them both!

  • Dianne Terwilliger Reply

    My family members and I have been coming to the Beach Garden for many years and are really sorry to hear this. I graduated from SCHS (class of ’68) and although I no longer live in the area, my family still does as do a lot of friends. Your staff were always so friendly and accommodated our dogs, your restaurant was always our go to for breakfasts or lunches. You will be missed! Please seriously consider staying in town, we will follow you!

  • Yes, come to North Beach! I have been going to Beach Garden Cafe for over 26 years now, and will certainly miss it if you don’t relocate! What a bummer!

  • We are San Clemente timeshare owners and can only come down twice a year. I have looked forward to your restaurant each time & esp. love your clam chowder. And you have the BEST crab sandwich with fries I ever had! You just have to open your restaurant again in the area.

  • I worked for at the Beach Garden Cafe’ for almost 10 years before this new over took over. I loved this area, the food, and the restaurant. It breaks my heart to see it go.

comments (9)

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