The Dana Point Town Center is bustling with new activity after three new businesses recently opened their doors in the Prado West development, with more to open in the coming months.
Penelope Pots, a green boutique that offers plants, bouquets, pots, home décor, jewelry and more, celebrated the opening of its newest location in the Lantern District in late March, while local chef Danielle Kuhn opened the wine and cheese shop Avec Moi and relocated her Maison Café + Market in early April.
Jackie Miller, a landscape architect, launched Penelope Pots in 2014 as an event and floral design concept. In 2020, Miller opened her first brick-and-mortar location in Long Beach at the Second & PCH development.
The storefront was initially intended to be an event venue, but when the pandemic hit, Miller pivoted and created a retail shop. Since then, Penelope Pots has opened new retail locations in Newport Beach and now Dana Point, as well as an event space in Huntington Beach.
With the newest location opening, Operations Coordinator Amber Mehta explained that customers can expect “the freshest, most beautiful flowers and plants available in the market.”
“We offer a carefully curated selection of unique gifts, allowing our customers to find something special if they’re looking to add on for a gift,” Mehta continued. “Whether you’re looking to freshen up your home with a new plant or searching for gifts for a special someone, or just want something lovely for yourself, we have a little something for everyone.”
Penelope Pots celebrated its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce on March 31.
“Jackie was so overwhelmed with the support and encouragement that day, like it was three times the turnout than we expected and just so many affirming and encouraging words,” Mehta said. “We just felt really welcomed in that area and just knew, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is the place for us.’ ”
“We’re so excited to continue connecting with the Dana Point clientele,” Mehta continued. “We’ve met so many people in the area that have been the most lovely, amazing people, and we’re just feeling right at home there.”
On April 4, Kuhn celebrated the reopening of Maison Café on the corner of Del Prado and Amber Lantern after relocating from its former location on Pacific Coast Highway.
Maison continues to offer a seasonal menu of organic produce, drawing inspiration from the French and Italian countryside. The café offers fresh coffee and pastries daily. From Tuesday through Saturday, Maison offers its daytime menu from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., its dinner and bar menus from 5-10 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Next door to Maison on Amber Lantern, Kuhn also opened Avec Moi, a wine and cheese shop. Avec Moi is open six days a week.
Clean Juice, a certified organic franchise offering a variety of healthy food options, is expected to open in Prado West in early May. Franchise owner Mendi Bartell explained that Clean Juice is far more than just juices.
“I’ll be selling sandwiches, wraps, acai bowls, salads, specialty toasts, smoothies, protein shakes, hand-macerated juices and cold-pressed juices, wellness shots, all kinds of great stuff on my menu,” Bartell said.
The franchise has 196 stores either open or in development. The Dana Point location will be Clean Juice’s third location in Southern California and the second in Orange County.
The new juice and food bar will also have a catering arm to serve local businesses. Clean Juice will open in the Prado West square, across from Bear Coast Coffee’s newest location.
“Prado West is the pinnacle of Dana Point now,” Bartell said. “I actually looked at a space that was the old Jamba Juice in Ocean Ranch, and then as I was sitting in the parking lot of Ocean Ranch, I pulled up an email that had Prado West in it, and I’m like, ‘Nope, I’ve got to go to Prado West.’ ”
Within two days, Bartell said she had toured the space at Prado West and began negotiating a lease soon after that.
“I love the walkability of Prado West,” Bartell said. “I love what Raintree, the landlord, all of the exciting plans that they have to bring the community to Prado West, so for me it was a no-brainer.”
After a year in the making, Bartell said she is excited for Clean Juice to finally open the week of May 15. Bartell plans to host a variety of events throughout the week to celebrate the opening.
Max Fisher, owner of the Schwack restaurants, expects to open his latest concept, Homeslice, in late May or early June. Fisher anticipates construction to be finished by late April or early May, with efforts to hire new staff in May.
Though the new restaurant will open across the street from The Shwack Beach Grill, Homeslice is expected to be a divergence from Fisher’s other restaurant concepts, including the The Schwack Cantina in San Clemente.
“Homeslice is kind of a community-based place where we want people to feel welcomed,” Fisher said. “We want to be ingrained in the community, kind of like I am across the street, where you can just pop in at any time; you don’t need a reservation, you don’t need to be dressed a certain way.”
“It’s just all about a relaxed, cool environment for people to share a bunch of food and drinks and have a good time,” Fisher continued.
Homeslice is expected to offer a unique menu of tasting plates, as Fisher envisioned an environment where friends can share a variety of small plates together.
“This is going to be a very unique menu, single-off items that you won’t find anywhere else,” Fisher said. “We have lasagna nachos. We have parmesan-crusted Italian sausage tacos. We have really unique pizza ideas. We have baked pastas.”
“It’s more of a playful Italian menu than anything else,” Fisher continued. “And the whole idea behind it is shared plates, cocktails. You go there with friends, you guys all pick something, and everybody shares. So, it’s a real community environment.”
The menu was developed in partnership with Marc Sullavin, and the restaurant was designed with partner Kegan Neill.
Though Fisher noted that it’s a challenging time to open a restaurant with food costs at an all-time high, he added, “We have an unbelievable community that has always supported everything I’ve done.”
Fisher said he feels “like we’ll get the same support for this when it opens, and we’ll be ready to go.”