By Breeana Greenberg
Though Waterman’s Harbor restaurant has closed, owner Damian Collins is looking to the future and hoping to keep employees on at a new restaurant concept he expects to open in Summer 2023.
Waterman’s Harbor closed its doors on June 1, after Collins felt the restaurant could not offer the same quality of service during the construction and revitalization process of the Dana Point Harbor.
The new restaurant will be a Mexican seafood-based concept that Collins hopes to open in Capistrano Beach. Collins plans to travel from Cabo San Lucas to Mexico City to Baja California, gathering ideas for the food and drink menus.
“We want to emulate some of the dishes that we see on our trip down there,” Collins said. “I think it’ll be a lot different than any of the other Mexican restaurants in town.”
The night before the restaurant closed, staff and vendors gathered for a goodbye party. Together, the staff watched slideshows of the progression in building Waterman’s after taking over the former Jolly Roger restaurant in 2013.
“We watched the slideshows last night of when we started at Waterman’s, how much of a mess that building was, and we basically took it down to the studs, reconfigured everything,” Collins said. “I mean, it was like almost from the ground up. There’s parts where you just kind of—emotionally, it was a tough night.”
However, Collins said that the decision to close Waterman’s was ultimately the best business decision.
“Businesswise, Burnham Ward was really helpful in getting us through all this and playing fair and being good to us,” Collins said of one of the developers involved in the harbor revitalization plans.
Collins said that keeping the restaurant open throughout construction would not have allowed him to offer the best experience for his customers.
“We all want the harbor down there to be the dream that they’ve shown us on paper,” Collins said. “That just wasn’t going to happen with us in that location and going through all the construction and everything.”
“They’re in a tough spot, because they have to build and have their construction that doesn’t always coincide with running a restaurant,” Collins continued. “We just came to a mutual agreement that we would part ways and maybe one day in the future, do another restaurant down there.”
Until the new restaurant is up and running, Collins plans to keep as many of Waterman’s staff as possible employed at his other two restaurants, Stillwater Spirits & Sounds and Sunsets.
“We had a great run at Waterman’s; we feel really good about what’s happening,” Collins said.
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com