‘Aviator Nation Dreamland’ takes flight with grand debut

Aviator Nation Dreamland Managing Director Kelly Furano is shown at the restaurant/gathering spot located at the old Malibu Inn building. Photo by Jimy Tallal/TMT.

Many have been looking at the old Malibu Inn building across from the pier for the past couple years — now painted a bright blue — and couldn’t figure out what was happening there. One part of the building was clearly the Aviator Nation clothing store. But what, if anything, were they intending to do with the rest of the 10,000-square-foot structure that used to be a restaurant? It had been turned into a vast lounge area with comfy chairs and sofas scattered around, but no obvious purpose other than lounging.

Now we have the scoop: they’re calling the space “Aviator Nation Dreamland,” and its grand debut opening days are happening right now. Described by management as “the hottest new venue in Malibu,” the space is now a dedicated restaurant with full food and beverage offerings every day (except Monday, as well as a music venue with weekly live music and ticketed events. The inside décor is stunningly artistic and unique, with a real ’70s vibe — just as the owner intended.

We caught up with the managing director of Dreamland, Kelly Furano, at last Thursday’s Malibu/Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce “Sunset Mixer” event. She explained how the building had been an iconic venue for music beginning over 50 years ago, and that Aviator’s owner wanted to honor that tradition.

“Dreamland is an iconic music venue from the ’70s that we’re bringing back to the Malibu community. Music is the core DNA,” Kelly said. “I want all kinds of talent to grow and thrive here with the community of artists and creatives in Malibu. We want to unite through music, engage the community and deliver awesome food.”

Kelly described most of Aviator’s designers and employees as “25 to 35 years old, hungry, passionate entrepreneurs, with substance, trying to re-imagine this space as it was in the ’70s. We hand painted all these murals on the walls. Every detail is thoughtfully curated. I feel pride in ownership. We wanted to capture the soul of what this building was in the past.”

The building does have a long and storied history in Malibu. It was originally built around 1920, and located about where SuperCare Drugs is now. Around 1950, the entire building was moved to its current location across from the Malibu Pier.

By 1975, the name had been changed to Crazy Horse Saloon. Legend has it that music great Neil Young ran the place, but local historians contend that Young was probably just an investor – the actual proprietors were Harold Fatt and Tom Blake. In the ’70s and ’80s, the venue was said to have hosted The Doors, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and The Beach Boys. The Malibu Inn name returned in the 2000s and the building owners and/or tenants changed several more times.  

Kelly expressed some frustration at the city’s slow approval process in getting the restaurant and music venue up and running: “It’s been a heavy lift and a bit of a challenge — the learning curve to get things done the right way.” 

“We hemorrhaged rent for two years on this place getting it just right,” Kelly continued. “But we’re focused on quality versus quantity, and willing to take the time to get things right.”

Aviator Nation as a company has existed for 14 years, and Kelly has been with them for the past six or seven years; helping them open several retail stores around LA, as well as in Malibu.

She comes by her love of music venues combined with restaurants honestly enough. Her dad, Dave Furano, is a well-known concert tour promoter (Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Barbara Streisand) who ran the San Francisco rock emporium Winterland, founded the first company to sell rock ‘n roll merchandise like T-shirts, and is co-founder/ owner of Rock & Brews in Manhattan Beach.

The Dreamland menu consists of breakfast all day beginning at 9 a.m., pizzas, tacos, shareables (hummus, French fries, etc.) and salads; and beverages that include coffees, specialty cocktails, and teas. They close at 9 or 10 p.m. each night. Dreamland features weekly Monday Composers’ Breakfasts, Taco Tuesdays and Aloha Fridays, and is located at 22967 Pacific Coast Highway.

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The Malibu/Pacific Palisades Sunset Mixer event at Aviator Nation Dreamland was held last Thursday evening, Sept. 29. Photo by Jimy Tallal/TMT.