Merle’s Coffee shop opened in 1951 at the corner of Coast Highway and MacArthur Blvd., a space now occupied by the Corona del Mar Plaza. Merle’s, which billed itself as a drive-in, offered a typical menu of coffee shop staples. In the early 1960s, the restaurant changed ownership and Merle’s became The Zoo drive-in. Perhaps the most memorable feature of The Zoo was the gorilla-costumed employee who stood on the corner to attract customers.
Perhaps the most iconic building in the Newport Beach neighborhood of Corona del Mar is the tutor-style Five Crowns. Thanks to one woman’s remarkable foresight and intuition, Corona del Mar hosts a traditional English inn. Matilda MacCulloch was a woman with vision. After traveling throughout Europe, marrying a Scottish nobleman, and living for many years in England, she wanted to have a taste of England to Southern California. Through her determination and love of architecture, Corona del Mar has its very own English inn.