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A rendering of the La Ventura catering and event center, proposed for South El Camino Real and Avenida San Gabriel. Photo: Courtesy of Don Kappauf

By Eric Heinz

As Southern California’s market for weddings and other events continues to grow, Iva Lee’s in San Clemente is trying to claim its stake.

Eric Wagoner, co-owner of Iva Lee’s, and Don Kappauf, who owns land in the city, are working to create a new establishment for catering events.

Iva Lee’s has an agreement to be the sole caterer of the planned establishment, Kappauf said.

Kappauf had been waiting for an opportunity with a committed lessee in order to construct the building.

“I had a building planned and approved for retail and commercial, and I couldn’t get anybody to lease it,” Kappauf said. “At that time, if you couldn’t get anybody to lease it then you couldn’t get any financing from the bank. Prior to everything, I just decided to do it about two years ago.”

Currently, the building design has been approved by the city but the final permitting for it has not. Both Kappauf and Wagoner said they are not sure when construction will start. When construction does begin, it should be between six to seven months to complete.

Co-owner of Iva Lee’s Eric Wagoner (left) and landowner Don Kappauf stand Tuesday in Iva Lee’s catering business office. Photo: Eric Heinz

“This is the home stretch,” Kappauf said.

The building is planned to be 5,500 square feet and will include a full kitchen, ballroom, private dressing rooms for weddings, enough parking for about 150 people and a 1,600-square-foot patio.

“We’ll have our sales staff there a couple days a week giving tours to brides and grooms,” Kappauf said. “Mainly events will be on weekends but we’re not opposed to doing weekday events. We’re going to try to do 80 to 100 weddings throughout the year.”

The center will be available for various types of events.

“Everything will be prepared and served hot on site,” Wagoner said.

The name of the center, La Ventura, is in memory of Wagoner’s and Kappauf’s friend Danny Ventura, who died a few years ago. Ventura introduced Wagoner and Kappauf during a golf outing.

Information about the permitting and the specifics of the building, visit the city of San Clemente website, and search for La Ventura.

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