Community pays tribute to Manhattan Beach restaurant owner after sudden heart attack
On Friday morning, some 200 people paddled out off of 26th Street in Manhattan Beach in tribute of Clint Clausen, a Manhattan Beach resident and restaurant owner who died of a heart attack earlier this month during a family vacation in Charleston, South Carolina.
The 44-year-old Tuscon native, remembered for his vivacious laugh and outgoing personality, owned Four Daughters’ Kitchen with his wife Kori, a yoga teacher. After the paddle out Friday, Four Daughters Kitchen hosted a crowded gathering with friends, family and customers, sharing photos and memories of Clint over lunch donated from neighboring restaurants. They were there from noon to 5 p.m.
“He just made everybody so happy,” said Chad Daring, next door neighbor and close friend. “He touched everyone he met. What really reassured it was when I heard it from people who had only met him once. They were heartbroken. It hurts knowing that some people won’t ever get to meet him.”
On Aug. 8, the last night of their family vacation, Kori Clausen was sitting in her husband’s arms when he took a particularly deep breath and jerked his head back. She felt his entire body go limp.
“I knew at that moment that there was nothing left in his eyes,” she recounted. “I think it was instant.”
For a long 15 minutes, her brother and brother-in-law tried to resuscitate him with CPR, but to no avail. Upstairs, the couple’s four girls — Haily, 12, Leila, 10, Sophia, 8, and Sloan, 6 — sat in a prayer circle with their cousins.
When the EMT arrived, the heart attack had already taken his life. The coroners later told her that he had an enlarged heart: two of his arteries had been 90-percent blocked, another was 70 percent blocked.
“I’m so thankful for the way everything went down,” Kori said. “It’s horrible and it sucks, but I was in his arms. I was there with him and we were having a good time. There’s so many things I’m thankful for in the midst of this sucky thing.”
The two met 17 years ago in Las Vegas, where they both lived — she as a professional dancer and he as a manager at the upscale Italian restaurant Bertolini’s then later at the Bellagio and MGM Grand. They hit it off on a night out with mutual friends at a Cheesecake Factory and began dating.
A wedding and four kids later, the Clausen’s moved to Manhattan Beach in October of 2009 after Clint got a job as a director of operations for SBE Entertainment in Los Angeles. It had always been her dream to live at the beach, Kori said.
Clint, a former UNLV basketball player, had his own dream: to open up a family restaurant. When Clint found himself unemployed that fall, the couple decided to take a leap and invest everything into manifesting this dream of his.
“It was one of those things, if you don’t do it the universe forces you to do it,” Kori said. “We took everything and put everything into it. It was a scary time. We didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.”
On Jan 18, 2010, Four Daughters Kitchen opened its doors a few blocks from the beach on the north end of Manhattan Beach. The beach-style, 60-seat eatery quickly became a hit among locals. Clint loved hanging out at the restaurant and making people laugh, Kori said.
“He knew everybody,” she said. “He’s just the funniest, nicest, outgoing, positive person I know. I’m always in awe. He’s never too tired to talk to anybody. He loves being the center of attention and telling stories, and he exaggerated a lot.”
In the wake of his sudden death, the community he once served has banded together in support of Kori and the girls, known as the “Clausen Angels.” In addition to a meal train for the family, a bereavement fund has been set up on PayPal.
“You can really feel all the love and support that everybody is pouring in,” Daring said. “It’s a reflection of who he was.”
And on Oct. 11, the first annual Clausen 4DK Fours Volleyball Tournament will take place at the Marine Avenue Courts to celebrate Clausen’s legacy and raise college funds for the girls.
“I’m so in awe of this community,” Kori said. “It’s just crazy. This is why we’re here. This is why he did the restaurant.”