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Defunct restaurant in Big Sur with killer views may soon reopen—along with new hotel

Bixby Bridge in the background and people in the foreground taking pictures and posing right next to the clif.
Some two-and-a-half hours south of San Francisco, the Bixby Bridge has long been a huge tourist draw. But good luck finding a meal in the area. | Source: Tayfun Anadolu/Getty Images

Seven years after the HBO drama Big Little Lies introduced a whole new generation to the beauty of Big Sur, the storm-battered region got a bit of welcome news: Visitors might soon be able to stay the night nearby. A derelict, 2.5-acre parcel of oceanfront land near the Rocky Creek Bridge may once again be a full-service restaurant and inn, complete with public restrooms, now that the California Coastal Commission has reached an agreement with the landowner, billionaire Patrice Pastor.

According to the Mercury News, under the terms of the agreement, Pastor may redevelop the site of the former Rocky Point restaurant, which operated from 1947 until 2020 and which he purchased in 2021 for $8 million. The current refurbishment plan calls for a 166-seat restaurant plus a 14-room inn.

Kirk Gafill, the president of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, said several buildings currently stand on the Rocky Point parcel, including rental units, although he was uncertain whether any redevelopment proposal involved refurbishment or demolition. In either case, Pastor’s plans will considerably improve the public’s ability to enjoy Big Sur.

“Most of the public services on the Big Sur coast are offered by private businesses, so anytime a private business closes, it’s a significant diminishment of services to the traveling public,” Gafill said.

Although public access to Rocky Point’s trails and vistas has not been seriously impeded in the interim, Pastor agreed to unlock the defunct restaurant’s gates and remove any “no trespassing” signs, replacing them with signage indicating the public may visit the site. Per the Mercury News, he also agreed to construct a restroom, improve the existing trails and ensure that drivers can safely park their cars along that dramatic stretch of Highway 1, approximately two-and-a-half hours south of San Francisco. 

The Coastal Commission will vote on whether to formally adopt the agreement at its June 14 meeting.

a long shot of a coastal, cliffside highway showing a section of road eroded away
This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of Highway 1 south of Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur. | Source: Caltrans/AP

A native of Monaco, Pastor has been on something of a buying spree in the nearby affluent town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, acquiring more than a dozen properties since 2015. A representative for his local real estate firm, Esperanza Carmel, did not respond to a request for comment.

State regulators have had to contend with at least one other high-profile dispute over public access to the coast. Approximately 100 miles up the coast in Half Moon Bay, billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has waged a fervent, 15-year war to restrict the public from reaching Martins Beach, where he owns a $32 million home. 

Of course, billionaire landowners have not been the only impediments to accessing beaches south of the Bay Area, as the past two winters have wreaked havoc on Highway 1 in and around Big Sur. On March 31, late-season rains eroded the cliff face near the Rocky Creek Bridge, barely a mile north of the Bixby Bridge. Known as the “Rocky Creep Slip Out,” it caused a section of the road to fall away, closing it to traffic until May 17.

But that incident pales beside a much-larger closure to the south. In January 2023, a massive slide near the unincorporated hamlet of Lucia buried a two-mile section of the famously scenic road, forcing travelers from the south to make a three-hour inland detour to reach Carmel and points north. Caltrans projects that slide will be cleared by summer.

Astrid Kane can be reached at