From left to right are David Brown, Brandy Iniquez, Alicia Barry and Stuart Eberhardt, who have teamed up to open a new restaurant in Idyllwild named Golden Nugget Bar & Grill. Photo by Susan Monroe

Stuart Eberhardt and his fiancé Alicia Barry, along with friend and partner David Brown and friend Chef Brandy Iniguez, are “working our hearts out,” said Eberhardt, toward the opening of Golden Nugget Bar & Grill in the near future.

The friend team have a unified vision for the Golden Nugget, which is being set up in the old Arriba’s restaurant. They want to make the Golden Nugget a fun and friendly place for the Idyllwild community to gather seven days a week. They plan to offer food, beer, pool and bingo for a start. Iniguez said their menu will start out simple; it will include soup and salad specials, hamburgers with fries, and chicken wings. They plan to make their fare easily affordable.

“We live here and love it here,” said Eberhardt. “Our son goes to school here, and we want to provide a service for the community.” “We want to help the community in whatever way we can,” said Barry. Recently, they donated a 40-foot shipping container to the Idyllwild Help Center to house donated furniture so it will be out of the weather.

In their lives before Idyllwild, Eberhardt and Barry had a horse ranch in Perris and ran their own construction company. As a family, they came to Idyllwild to visit, loved it and wanted to stay. “It’s not for everybody,” said Eberhardt. “We’ve seen a lot of people come and go, but we know as a family that it is for us.”

The exact date of the opening of the Golden Nugget Bar & Grill is yet unknown. The group is getting ready to submit new plans with the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control. In the meantime, they are giving the old Arriba’s a do-over inside and out with paint and professional cleaning.

The group believes the Idyllwild local community is their “bread and butter,” and that “tourists are an added bonus.” The Golden Nugget operation will target the needs of the Idyllwild community first. Eberhardt said, “We are working hard, taking it one step at a time.” He adds, “We want to get it done right.”

In addition to the Golden Nugget Bar & Grill, there are plans for a Chinese/American restaurant in an adjacent building. Barry said that when they did a survey on Facebook, “People have been asking for Chinese food.” We already have a cook who’s ready and waiting.

Benita Haeggquist, the owner of Lemon Lily & Jack, is passionate about “the holistic healing art of skin care” she practices at her studio. Her studio is in the Courtyard building. Lemon Lily & Jack had a “soft” opening on Valentine’s Day, she said.

When asked why she named her studio Lemon Lily & Jack, Haeggquist said, “It was named after the love story of my life, my grandparents.” Lily will be 90 in May and Jack will be 99 in October. “Lemon” was put before Lily because the rare, nearly extinct flower, Lemon Lily, blooms here in Idyllwild and represents her love of Idyllwild. “Idyllwild has a rare healing gift,” said Haeggquist, “and I want to give back to the community through my studio.”

The healing art of skin care is what Haeggquist has been doing for the last 15 years. When doing a facial, she uses the handmade artisan products that “nourish the skin and feed your spirit,” according to Haeggquist. She looks for “the messages the skin wants to tell … All organs are represented in the face, the face reflects what else is going on in the body, it is all connected, it’s about wholeness,” said Haeggquist. In addition to a facial, Benita gives nutritional advice and does face mapping, as well as aroma- and crystal-based therapy.

When she works with a client, she puts her heart and soul into it. She said her clients tell her, “This is so much more than a facial.”