The flames that lit up the Dana Point skyscape on December 29, 2007 destroyed the building housing Proud Mary's. But not even fire could wipe out the tradition that is the restaurant's heritage. That tradition began because of a woman with humble Midwest roots endured, and the tradition flourished under new family ownership.
Mary Merrill, Proud Mary's founder, believed that a family united in love and purpose could accomplish miracles. She and her five children moved to California a year after her husband's tragic death in 1970. She quickly saw the opportunity of her lifetime in the empty Dana Point storefront that became Proud Mary's in 1977.
The Zdrakas family kept Mary's miracle and her dream alive. They took over the business July 2005. The restaurant thrived as a comfortable, unpretentious place where friends and family could enjoy good food and a spectacular view. The fire shocked and saddened the Zdrakases and the community, but soon words of comfort and support poured in from places near and far.
The consolation we received doubled our resolve to rebuild, we knew we would face many obstacles, but we also knew we couldn't give up. Too many people were counting on us.
The County of Orange, The City of Dana Point, and Vintage Marina Partners put their heads together, and slowly began to rebuild the Dana Point landmark. And just as Mary Merrill had a vision for an empty storefront, the Zdrakas family had a vision for the razed building. They saw a new beginning. A patio with a spacious dining area twice the size of the previous patio; an interior with breathtaking harbor views; and the addition of a dinner menu with gourmet salads, prime beef, fish plates and small desserts. And as it goes, they began trying out new recipes on friends, serving mouth-watering appetizers at small, intimate dinner parties.
Much has happened to our family in a very short time, we believe in our hearts that as we step with confidence into the future, we will make Proud Mary's even prouder. We thank you, our faithful customers, for helping us keep our dream alive.