Restaurateur couple bids ‘adieu’ to a Malibu institution

Daniel Forge opened BeauRivage Restaurant with his wife, Luciana, in 1982. Devon Meyers/TMT

The BeauRivage is in escrow. A representative from the company

buying the restaurant would not comment on what the plans are for it. Current owner Daniel Forge says he believes it will remain a restaurant.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

With its pink, bougainvillea-covered walls and distinctive copper dome, BeauRivage has become a popular eatery, watering hole and local landmark. But after a lengthy battle to add a 27-room bed and breakfast to the property, longtime owners Daniel and Luciana Forge are calling it quits.

“When we bought it we wanted to make a nice little resort,” said Daniel Forge of his one-time plans. “We carried it up until we had the problem with [the California] Coastal [Commission].”

According to public records, the property located at 26025 Pacific Coast Highway is in escrow. The buyer has been identified as Emster III properties of Sherman Oaks. Matt Epstein, the managing member of Emster III, said this week that discussing detailed plans would be premature until the close of escrow. But Forge said BeauRivage is expected to continue to operate as a restaurant and his staff would stay on.

Its cozy ambiance and romantic ocean view setting made BeauRivage a favored locale for weddings and special events. The kitchen features a varied Mediterranean mix of French and Italian cuisines.

The Forges purchased the property in 1982 and spent years seeking permits and fighting lawsuits to construct initially a shopping mall, and later a bed and breakfast. In 2003 the Malibu City Council approved a municipal permit that would have allowed the couple to construct a 16,240 square foot bed and breakfast on their land situated north of Corral Canyon.

The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit citing various environmental concerns including inadequate protection for steelhead trout in nearby Solstice Creek. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs ruled against the Sierra Club, rejecting arguments that the project’s environmental impact report was insufficient. A state appellate panel agreed with the lower court’s decision, and the California Supreme Court later declined to hear the case.

The Forges’ big blow came in August 2005 when the California Coastal Commission unanimously rejected their coastal development permit application. That decision proved to be the last straw.

“The city of Malibu was not too bad,” Daniel Forge said, “But the Sierra Club and Coastal made our lives impossible.”

The Forges, now both in their 80s, say the time is right to walk away. “Big change is coming,” Daniel Forge observed. “I can’t wait for that, so let some new blood in.”

Forge described the new owners as “very nice people” with “a solid organization.” They also might be better equipped to deal with local challenges. “They have mucho dinero and that’s what you need in Malibu.”

Daniel, who is French, and Luciana, who is Italian, plan to take a break on the European Riviera. But before that, they will remain at the restaurant until Sept. 1 to oversee previously booked weddings and events. “I could write a book on weddings,” Forge said. He probably could pen a tale or two about his celebrity clientele. Dick Clark was there the first week he opened, and Johnny Carson was a regular.

After 25 years, the Forges said they take with them “many wonderful years and fabulous people.” “We will miss that,” he said, “But there comes a time when you have to say goodbye.”