Shocking local restaurant closures

  • Denny’s on Portola,  Foothill Ranch closing today, Monday, January 31.
  • The entire Laguna Hills Mall upstairs Food Court. Barricades going up this week, impacting Sbarro, Hot Dog On a Stock, and Chinese Express.
  • Black Forest Bakery in Lake Forest closed Dec. 24. The owners cited the bad economy for the closure.
  • McDonald’s at The Shops at Mission Viejo has closed
  • The Chronic Tacos at 23781 El Toro Road in Lake Forest has closed. The restaurant phone number is disconnected, and the location is no longer listed on the chain’s website.

and temporary closing, per the OC Register:

  • The Sizzler in Lake Forest on Jan. 31 to undergo a top-to-bottom remodel that will transform the aging restaurant into a modern eatery with new furniture, TVs and a revamped menu.  “It’s an extreme makeover,” said Sally Myers, whose Temecula-based company, BMW Management, operates 25 Sizzlers throughout California. “We’re taking Sizzler as our guest knows it today, and it’s going away. ”  The Lake Forest restaurant will serve its last meal Sunday, Jan. 30.  It is among a handful in the chain being transformed to revive the Sizzler brand. The restaurant reopens later this year, and will be the first in Orange County to adopt the new Sizzler look.

“It will be a Sizzler like Orange County has never seen before,” Myers said.

Some foods and the ordering system will also change. Myers reopened a remodeled Sizzler in Murrieta in November, and so far, she said the feedback has been good.  Menu prices will remain the same, she added.  To get a look at the food, decor and structure changes expected at the Sizzler in O.C., check out our food gallery of photos: Behind the Scenes of Sizzler’s Big Remodel

A new, less expensive concept in massage offered by Pandora Massage at Laguna Hills Mall

I was very short on time the day I went in, my first visit.  I just noticed them driving by so on impulse, I decided to stop and see what their services were and prices.  The first thing I noticed was the soothing sounds of a flute accompanied by a chirping bird. The ambiance is comfortable with a somewhat tropical/Asian decor, very clean, and prices were less expensive than other moderately priced salons I’ve been to.  What I like is that you don’t undress for a massage at Pandora. No hassle of dressing and undressing, make up stays intact, no oily hair so you can go on about your day looking as good as you did when you left the house, but much more relaxed.   All their massage tables are set up in one open space, but fanned out so you have a sense of privacy.  The massage tables may be the most comfortable I’ve layed on.

Again on impulse, I asked for a combination foot/shoulder/neck/back massage for 15 minutes.  It went a little longer but they didn’t charge extra.  Just a 20 minute or so massage and I was so relaxed, I had to peel myself off the massage table.  I didn’t want to move.  Although their website,, says the massages are for one hour each, they are happy to provide shorter massages that fit your budget or time you have available.

I have a standing appointment at my nail salon every 2 weeks and most of the time, I’ll ask for a longer foot massage or a shoulder/neck/back massage.  I’ll be coming to Pandora for that in the future.  The price is the same, meaning inexpensive, but the quality of massage is better and the soothing environment works wonders.

Issa Hanna, a retired pharmacist, owns Pandora Massage, which only opened 6 weeks ago.   He mentioned they have a large selection of music a customer can choose from if desired.  Then he said the magic words that bought my loyalty on the spot — if established customers are out and about, feeling muscle tension or pain, he’ll be happy to have a masseuse provide a 5 minute massage at no charge. Yep, Pandora’s phone number went immediately into my cell phone Contacts list.

Pandora’s offering a special right now – two one-hour massages for the price of one.  Such a deal!  Use both for yourself or bring a friend.

Pandora Massage is located on the back side of the mall not too far from Sears, and can only be accessed from the parking lot, not from inside the mall.

Open 10am to 10pm everyday. Phone:  (949) 465-0005.  Walk-in’s welcome, appointments preferred.

Does consciousness survive death? A can’t-miss program 2/5/11, Laguna Woods

brain/consciousnessThe International Foundation for Survival Research of Laguna Hills is devoted to providing public information, without interpretation, regarding experiences and research related to life beyond death.  They sponsor the popular Life After Life club of Laguna Woods Village.  Their February 5th meeting, open to the public,  promises to be fascinating for people interested in this topic.

Boston medium Joanne Gerber will be giving “spot readings” to audience members.  Joanne has been studied by the Veritas Research Program at the University of Arizona, which tests the hypothesis that the consciousness of a person survives physical death.  She’s also been studied by the prestigious Windbridge Research Institute, an independent research organization consisting of  scientists with varied backgrounds, specialties and interests,  investigating what our bodies, minds, and spirits are capable of, and how that information can best serve living things.

Joanne will be giving “spot” readings to members of the audience.  She’ll also be offering private and group sessions in the Laguna area.  For more information, you can reach Joanne at  781-883-5403.

Also at this event, Robert and Phran Ginsberg from New York will speak.  After their son died, the Ginsberg’s started the Forever Family Foundation in part to provide a forum where individuals and families who have suffered the loss of a loved one can turn to for support, information, and hope provided by ongoing research into the survival of consciousness.  They are co-hosts of the Foundation’s radio show, “Signs of Life.”

The program will be followed with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert.

When:  Saturday, Feb. 5. 2011, 1:30pm to 4pm

Where:  Laguna Woods Village,  CLUBHOUSE 7*

Cost:      $15, payable in advance by January 28. (Mail check, payable to Life After Life Club, to 848 Ronda Mendoza, Unit P, Laguna Woods, CA 92637.  For info, call Elizabeth at 949-707-1633.

*Directions:  The closest cross streets are Moulton Prwy and El Toro Rd.  You’ll enter the driveway entrance to Clubhouse 7 from Moulton at the first light north of El Toro Rd.  If you’re coming from El Toro Rd, you’ll have to make a U-turn at Gate 12.  If you’ve reached Santa Maria Ave (where Polly’s Pies and Fresh and Easy are located), you’ve gone too far.  If coming from the north (ie Lake Forest Blvd) driving in the direction of El Toro, you’ll pass Santa Maria Ave and make a right turn into the driveway entrance to Clubhouse 7.

If  using the freeway, exit El Toro Road.  If coming from the south, turn left on El Toro, right on Moulton Pkwy.  If coming from the north, exit El Toro Rd, which lands you on Paseo de la Carlotta. Make a left, then near immediate right on El Toro. For more information, call Elizabeth at 949-707-1633.

Quiz–What’s 50% off at Mother’s Market & Kitchen every single day?

Mother's Market, Laguna WoodsAnswer:

At 7:00 PM and after, all food from their hot case, including the quiche!  The hot case is located at the take-out counter.

How could I not know this?  They carry my two remedies, Cold Sores Begone and Canker Sores Begone, and I’ve shopped there for years.  Tonight, I brought home chile rellanos, some kind of curry dish, spinach and mushroom quiche, and vegetables they call lemon piccata. Yep, that’s about as hard as I want it to get to prepare a meal.

The closest Mother’s Market in the Saddleback area is located in Laguna Woods behind Laguna Hills Mall at Paseo de Valencia and El Toro Rd.

No Healthcare Coverage Due to Economy? Free or Low Cost Clinics Available in OC

Click on Orange County Health Care Agency.

Although not free, the Minute Clinic (located in select CVS Pharmacy locations) are less expensive than a doctor’s visit, and staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners.  Click HERE for info on their Mission Viejo location at La Paz and Marguerite Parkway.




Dial 511 To Check SoCal Traffic Conditions Before Leaving the House or On the Road

Traffic jamI didn’t know this existed until today!  It’s a free travel information service that provides traffic, transit and commuter service information in Orange County, Los Angeles and Ventura counties via a toll-free phone number, 511, and website,  It can even help you plan a trip on a bus or train or find a carpool or vanpool partner.

Calling 511 directly provides you with:

  • Traffic, including freeway travel times and speeds, road construction and traffic incidents
  • Trip planning such as bus and train schedules and a trip planner that helps you find the best transit route for your trip
  • Commuter services including finding a vanpool or carpool partner or locating a park-and-ride facility near you
  • Bike information such as bike maps, how to take bikes on buses and trains and links to area airports and taxis
  • Latest weather in your neighborhood or any other city in Southern California

A new year, desire to get fix-it jobs done, but concerned about expense?

A few people who used my excellent handyman due to my recommendation, suggested I write about him again since many people don’t go too far back scrolling through a blog.  His name is Daniel Tena and he happens to be a licensed contractor.  His rates are very reasonable, so don’t let that be reason not to call or get your projects, big or small, finally done with–especially if there’s a danger issue involved.  His contact information is: Cell ph:  949-485-8458 , Home ph:  949-365-1085.

Here’s the link to the original blog which provides more information.

Authentic NY Deli Pastrami and Corned Beef in Irvine – and the Best Rye Bread

It’s Tommy Pastrami New York Delicatessen, a casual restaurant in a strip mall located at 8685 Irvine Center Drive in Irvine.  Phone  (949) 753-7445

Customer favorites are the pastrami, corned beef, chili and excellent rye bread although other selections include brisket, oven roasted fresh turkey, roast beef, homemade chopped liver, fresh homemade chicken salad, albacore tuna salad, egg salad, homemade chicken matzo ball soup, and more.

The pastrami is leaner and less greasy than what’s offered at The Hat.  With that said, Tommy Pastrami is on the pricey side.

Open Monday thru Saturday,  10:00 am – 8 pm;  Closed Sunday with the exception of catering

Weigh Your Pets Free Anytime at Mission Viejo Pet Store

Inside the Pet Stop Warehouse is a professional pet scale just like what you see in your vet’s office.  It’s accessible for anyone’s use, and there’s no pressure or obligation to make a purchase.  If your pet’s weight is an issue, or you’re just curious about it, stop by any time.

The store is located in the Portola Shopping Center at Marguerite and Santa Marguerite Parkways.  You won’t find the store facing the same direction as CVS, Ralph’s Market, or the bagel store.  Drive toward the back of the shopping center next to Starbuck’s and you’ll see the Pet Stop Warehouse on your right.

A year ago, I wrote about why I like this independently owned pet store so much.  You can read it here.

Lorna is the owner, very knowledgeable, and holistic oriented.

Phone:  949-305-0532