Sapphire, Cellar. Craft. Cook sits on one of the most historically significant pieces of commercial land in Laguna Beach. Nearly a century ago, it was the home of The Pottery Shack, which brothers Roy and Van Childs and their wives opened in 1937 with $80 worth of pots and vases. The Pottery Shack, whose original location in 1936 was in two old log cabins at the corner of Coast Highway and Anita Street, quickly became an internationally famous tourist attraction. It was one of several large pottery factories that flourished during the war years in Laguna Beach, and the only one to survive.
The history of the 37,500-square-foot property, with frontage on South Coast Highway and Brooks and Glenneyre Streets, goes back even further. A home originally stood on the site at 1200 S. Coast Highway, followed by a restaurant, the Yum-Yum Tea Room.
In 1972, after 36 years of operating the Pottery Shack, the Childs family sold the property to Pier One Imports, which had plans to use the property as a basis for national expansion. After those plans fizzled, the property passed back into private hands and, in 2004, the Pottery Shack – one of Laguna's favorite shopping venues – closed its retail store.
In 2006, after two years of caring renovation, "The Shack" was lovingly reborn as The Old Pottery Place. The collection of distinctive shops, food purveyors, and offices once again welcomed visitors from around the globe. The renovation was in compliance with the U.S. Secretary of Interior's specifications for historical structures and happened under the auspices of the Laguna Beach Heritage Committee. Many of the structures, materials, and features of the original site still can be seen both outside and inside the stores, shops, and offices.
In 2007, Sapphire Laguna Restaurant and Pantry opened on the property. Acclaimed chef-owner Azmin Ghahreman provided "global comfort food" in an inviting indoor-outdoor venue with a decidedly California vibe. In March 2020, the restaurant was rechristened Sapphire, Cellar. Craft. Cook after Gharreman sold the restaurant to Russ Bendel, a highly successful local restaurateur. The current landlord of the entire property, which consists of 15 separate parcels, is Joe Hanauer, an investor in commercial, office, medical, and residential real estate as well as real estate-related businesses.
An iconic statue of Eiler Larsen, the official "greeter" of Laguna Beach who used to welcome people near Main Beach, remains a prominent feature on the property -- a nod to its status as an iconic and beloved piece of Laguna Beach history.
Statue of Laguna Beach's Greeter
Photo by Sarah King
The Pottery Shack in the late 1940s
Photo from Laguna Beach Historical Society