The City of Newport Beach moved its Civic Center from an outdated facility on the Balboa Peninsula to a beautiful new location at Newport Center in 2013.
What to do with the old property? Simple: let Bob Olson and its based in Newport Beach Development RD Olson build a boutique hotel called Lido House on the property, an award-winning hotel that draws inspiration from the Cape Cod aesthetic of the hotel developer’s former home on Balboa Island.
Within the 130-room Lido House, opened in 2018 as part of the Marriott Autograph Collectionis The mayor’s tablea restaurant supervised by the Executive Chef-Partner Riley Huddlestonwhose culinary bio is as remarkable as the Lido Hotel.
Earning his ribs as a chef, mixologist, pastry chef and restaurateur at elite New York and Chicago establishments, Huddleston is known for his fine dishes that blend classic French training with modern cooking techniques.
The Oregon native was part of the opening team for the award-winning contest LondonHouse Chicago, a luxury hotel in Chicago. Huddleston served as executive chef and beverage director, arranging everything from food and beverage menu concepts to musical selections.
Prior to that, Huddleston was in Boise, Idaho, where he served as chef at a fine dining restaurant and later helped open a successful restaurant chain called Woody Frywhich grew to six locations before Huddleston sold his shares.
He then went to Timber Cove Resort on the Sonoma Coast, at the time owned by Olson. He became director of food and beverage, a heady title for Huddleston, who was 24 at the time.
After two successful years at Timber Cove, Olson sold the property and Huddleston moved to Chicago before being brought back to California by Olson and his new Lido House hotel.
Huddleston is a partner in the project and oversees several Marriott hotel restaurants, but he and Olson have a special deal with the Marriott to run the Lido House.
“Our mission here at Lido House is to create an experience exactly like nothing else. This ethos transcends everything we do here, especially our food and beverage programs,” Huddleston said.
Added a new leader
At the Mayor’s Table, aptly named for its location on the city’s former Town Hall site, Huddleston showcases the vibrant flavors of seasonal ingredients while serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. , as well as the weekend brunch.
Huddleston also has a new executive chef at the mayor’s table, Jonathan Delacruzwho took the reins of the kitchen, giving Huddleston time to create new dishes and new cocktails.
“We were becoming a well-oiled machine, but the pandemic kind of derailed us,” Huddleston said. “Now it finally feels really good, it’s really taking shape and it’s falling into place.”
With the Lido House’s location on the Balboa Peninsula, Huddleston has learned that its clientele isn’t typical of a hotel restaurant.
“We’re actually about 70% locals and 30% hotel guests,” Huddleston said. “It’s very unusual, but that was the philosophy of opening the hotel and restaurant. Bob wanted it to be from the community, and the community was behind us to build the hotel.
We respond to the community, we want them here. It’s the nostalgia of being in Newport, the locals come and bring their friends. To be a boutique hotel, you need premises. This creates true hospitality.
Huddleston said the menu has evolved since the restaurant opened.
“When we opened we were all about seafood and veggies, which is what you’d expect, you’re not driving on the 405 freeway and seeing cattle. You’re next to the ocean. “But steaks became our best seller. Then during the pandemic, everyone was cooking steaks at home, not many people were cooking seafood.”
So now the demand has returned to seafood.