Sean Campbell’s first meal in Orange County — shortly after landing from Florida at John Wayne Airport — was at The Quiet Woman. A year later, he and his now wife, Lynne Campbell, were dating, hanging out at the Corona del Mar institution at 3224 East Coast Highway.
And on Tuesday, the couple proudly unveiled the newly remodeled space, which was strangely familiar while at the same time totally new and fresh.
“That was what we wanted,” Sean said while waiters brought around brand-new cocktails invented for the occasion. “We didn’t want it to be jarring, but we wanted it to be fresh.”
The newly remodeled space has more light, elegant new pendant lighting and a stunning display that features wine bottles built into the wall by the host’s station. The band’s stage is still there in the corner (where Sean sat, before there was a stage, for his first meal so many years ago), the headless woman is still on display by the entrance…But now she’s featured, well-lighted, with a story to go with her presence.
“Ten or twelve years ago, a guy walked in with her under his arms,” Lynne says. He went on to tell the bartender that his mom just passed away, and the statue was in the garage. The family had it, because the dad had stolen it — probably after a few drinks — years before. The man had been meaning to return it for years, but he finally decided the time was right.
“It really needs to go back home,” the man said before disappearing without even leaving his nam.
The Quiet Woman is filled with stories, especially about the regulars. There is art on the walls featuring portraits of patrons from different generations, one over a table where there is on occasion a wake for one of the subjects in the painting overhead. The remodeled space now also showcases stunning portraits, all by women artists, adorning the walls.
“Becky’s Night Out” is one of the most popular paintings you’ll see — a passed out redhead, once owned by a friend of the Campbell’s, purchased in New Orleans, and now hanging where everyone in the restaurant or bar can clearly see her. (The painting’s real title is “Dream” but no one calls it that.)
Lynne and Sean bought the restaurant 21 years ago with the idea they would stay true to the pub-like, traditional feeling of the 45-year-old village institution. Early on, they spruced up the dining room, then a decade later updated the kitchen. This new remodel marks the most significant overhaul The Quiet Woman has seen.
“It was time,” Sean said.
Meanwhile, the couple said they have plans for a new sandwich shop that will soon be opening next door. The Little Woman will feature lunch items and will have delivery service.
“Stay tuned,” Lynne said. “We have a lot going on.”