“GREETER’S CORNER offers casual, welcome atmosphere by the sea”
By DANIEL CHANG
The Orange County Register
He came a long way for a vagabond. After all, how many Orange County people have statues in their likeness displayed in pulic places?
John Wayne. Slain Arab American civil-rights leader Alex Odeh. And Eller Larsen, whose carved-wood image is more a treatment to his endurance and personality than celebrity or civic achievement — although the beloved Laguna
greeter had some of that, too.
Nearly 20 years after his death, Larsen’s legacy endures in the redwood sculpture standing out¬side The Greeter’s Corner Restaurant —one of the most scenic and cozy breakfast nooks in Laguna Beach.
For those who don’t know, Larsen was the Danish immi¬grant who often stood near the corner of South Coast Highway and Forest Avenue in Laguna Beach, waving and smiling at passers-by for nearly 40 years. City leaders proclaimed him Official Laguna Greeter in 1963 (count that as a civic achieve¬ment).
The Greeter’s Corner menu offers omelettes and other egg dishes for breakfast, as well as burgers, sandwiches, seafood, salads and appetizers for lunch and supper. If you step into the greeter’s footprints outside, then you’ll probably want to try the breakfast special named after him: scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes and fried potatoes ($7.65).
While the food is hearty and the atmosphere casual, probably the best thing about the Greeter’s Corner is the wood deck overlooking Main Beach.
If you lounge on the deck over a plate of eggs and pota¬toes, it is apparent why Larsen hung around so long. The sea is so close you can smell it. The sidewalks are busy with skaters, strollers, beach combers, tourists, delivery boys and meter maids. And the Pacific horizon is the back¬drop:”Can you imagine a more beautiful spot in the world?” asks Leslie De Duijtsche, a waitress at Greeter’s Corner and something of a celebrity in her own right.
Known as the “Purple Lady” among regular customers, De Duijtsche has served food at Greeter’s Corner since moving to Laguna from Detroit 15 years ago.
“I love looking at the ocean all -day long,” she says. “I’m 53 years old, and I feel like it’s the first day of summer vacation and I’m still a teen-ager.” But why do they call you the Purple Lady? “I just always feel so good when I wear purple,” she says. Rules say Dc Duijtsche has to wear a white shirt and black slacks to work. But check out the purple satin slippers with the purple garland bows. Is everything she owns colored purple? “My toothbrush, my telephone — everything in my apartment, from floor to ceiling, is purple,” she says. With a gig like that, we might be in store for a statue of De Duijtsche.
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