Then & Now: The Corner at Park and Forest Avenues

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View of Forest Avenue from South Coast Highway, 1920 | Photo Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society
View of Forest Avenue from South Coast Highway, 1920 | Photo Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

At the corner where Park and Forest avenues meet South Coast Highway, in the building with the bright blue awnings, workers have scooped frozen treats into cups and cones for 21 years at Chantilly Ice Cream. Locals and vacationers stop in to cool off after a day at Main Beach, indulging in flavors from rocky road to mango sorbet.

However, this triangular-shaped lot hasn’t always been home to an ice cream shop. Immediately prior, it was a bakery selling croissants and other pastries, says, Chantilly owner Robert Sarhad. A second floor add-on now provides office space for a real estate agency. Longtime residents may recall this spot was once occupied by Park Forest Pharmacy and, before that, Rankin’s Drugs.

Park Forest Pharmacy, 1974 | Photo by Douglas Miller
Park Forest Pharmacy, 1974 | Photo by Douglas Miller

A bronze plaque engraved with the name “Rankin” is embedded in the ground by the door, while a historic gate dating back to the early 1900s is preserved on a pole in front of the wood-frame structure at 202 Park Ave. These words are painted in black letters on the white, wooden slats: “This gate hangs well and hinders none, refresh and rest, then travel on.”

Chantilly Ice Cream, 2015  | Photo by Jody Tiongco
Chantilly Ice Cream, 2015 | Photo by Jody Tiongco

The sign was originally posted in front of a Forest Avenue ice cream parlor opened by Carl Hofer, who held a contest to name the business; the winning moniker, “The Gate,” was suggested by a little girl whose father had seen an English pub by that name, according to the book “Pioneer Days of Laguna Beach” by Merle and Mabel Ramsey. The gate, made by Carl’s father, came along when he moved his business to the Park and Forest corner and, although it was removed by the next owner, was reinstalled by Rankin when he took over and has remained there ever since.

-Written by Laguna Beach Magazine Staff

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