Brent Bolthouse Opens The Bungalow Huntington Beach: "In Our DNA, We Are a Neighborhood Bar"

The new outpost is a sibling to Santa Monica's popular watering hole at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Bolthouse Productions

Nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse has gone south ... to Huntington Beach, that is. 

The well-known Bolthouse hit it so big with his ever-packed Westside hotspot The Bungalow Santa Monica at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows that he and his compadres (including longtime partner Jen Rosero) have doubled down, expanding the imprint to Orange County with the July opening of The Bungalow Huntington Beach. The Pacific Ocean views are, of course, included in the new Pacific City location at 21058 Pacific Coast Highway, but the menu and the vibe are totally different.

Bolthouse sat down with The Hollywood Reporter in Santa Monica to talk about his latest venture — celebrated at a Surfrider Foundation benefit event featuring Incubus members Brandon Boyd and Mike Einziger on July 7 — how Instagram played a role in the design and what revelers can expect from a night on the town in Huntington Beach. 

Congratulations on the new location. Do you know a lot about the kinds of people who live in Huntington and how nightlife compares to this city?

Anybody who's living next to the water is a certain kind of person. They've got a certain something in their soul that draws them to the water, and I think that's universal. In Santa Monica, there are some industry people, but also a lot of hedge funds, tech, and West Coast offices of East Coast companies. Down there it seems to be a lot of action sportswear, and it's where Vans started.

Bungalow Huntington Beach co-owners Jen Rosero and Brent Bolthouse and recording artist Brandon Boyd attend the grand opening of The Bungalow Huntington Beach on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Bolthouse Productions)

When you decided to have this new spot in Huntington Beach, what was your approach?

In our DNA, we are a neighborhood bar. We've learned so much by being here in Santa Monica, where I think we've become a quintessential part of the community. And I think what makes the two communities different is that while we are next to the water [in both locations], we're at different perspectives of the water. In Santa Monica, you're looking on top of the water and in Huntington you're on the sand looking at the surf, which is a different perspective. They let you burn fires on the beach on Huntington Beach, so you're smelling wood and there's this rustic smell in the air and you can see there's 50 fires across the street from where the Bungalow is and it's awesome. But from a design perspective, Santa Monica was always rooted in the '70s. We always try to find a muse for our projects — at least I do. For Santa Monica, it was like this great woman who loved Baja California and traveled the world. She retired and brought all of her stuff to this place. For Huntington Beach — a place where surfing sort of was birthed in the '50s — our compass for design was Ray Eames. But not for what you typically think of when you hear the name Ray Eames — like a beautiful chair or an amazing table or a sofa — but how would Ray Eames live if this were her Bohemian beach house. So we're similar but we're different. 


Don't neglect your walls. Art at #TheBungalowHB (photo: @candacesays)

A photo posted by The Bungalow Huntington Beach (@thebungalowhb) on

Who is the interior designer?

We worked with Studio Collective again, who we worked with for the Santa Monica location. They're so awesome and we know each other really well know. 

What about the cocktails and the food? What are the differences?

We're keeping our margarita the same, as well as our sangria — two of our signature drinks that people love a lot. We've crafted cocktails around names of famous people from Huntington Beach as well as famous things that have happened there. We have one drink called Shooting the Pier, which is a '60s surfer term. On the food, in Santa Monica we have a great partnership at Fig. They handle the food for Bungalow and it's fantastic. In Huntington Beach, we partnered with a restaurant called Bear Flag Fish Co., which is unbelievable. It's a family-owned fish market and they're from Newport. The father and grandfather were fishermen. The owners are delightful, beautiful humans that I have just become so fond of and I'm so excited about our collaborations. We're on the second floor on PCH above the restaurant, so we put a dumb waiter between us. They have the kitchen and I get to do what we're good at — selling drinks, playing great music, beautiful décor — while they make us fantastic food.


Working on the food with our partner @bearflagfishco Opening in July

A photo posted by The Bungalow Huntington Beach (@thebungalowhb) on

What about the music?

The music is very similar to Santa Monica. The soundscape that we've created here is everything from old Memphis soul to The Beatles. We're gonna keep that same thing, because that's our signature. I want Bungalow to be a place that when you go there it still feels like a familiar pair of jeans even if you're in a different city. You're like, "Oh great, I love the music," ya know? That's really important.

The Bungalow Santa Monica is popular on Instagram. How did that factor into the design of Huntington Beach? How do up go about making a bar Instagram-worthy?

It's funny you say that because as we were designing Santa Monica, we were having those conversations about to create Instagram moments. That's sort of how the "amore" sign in our bar came up because we wanted to create these little vignettes, because that's such a big part of people's lives now — those Instagram moments. People live and die by that. We took the same approach in Huntington, but the difference there is that we built it from the ground up. We got to lay it out the way we wanted to, we got to put the walls where we wanted to put the walls. So we created these really great [Instagram] spaces. We've got a great view of the pier, we've got a great view of the water, and on a clear day you can see Catalina. It's pretty magical. So I think we're gonna have some great Instagram moments.


View from above. Regram @brentbolthouse

A photo posted by The Bungalow Huntington Beach (@thebungalowhb) on