Daydream Surf Shop

Interview by Glenn Sakamoto

Daydream Surf Shop is the brainchild of two coastal Orange County natives who wanted to create a unique space that blended the richness of surfing, the taste experience of specialty coffees, and the abstract components of human experience. A tall order for sure, but Kyle Kennelly and Rebecca Mantei do it all with deftness and aplomb. We spoke with Kyle to learn more.

Tell us a bit about yourselves. What inspired the both of you to create Daydream?

I grew up in Orange County and was raised by a single, working mother who took me surfing every morning before school from the age of 8 until I was skilled enough to ride my bike to the beach. I was in love with the ocean and spent way too much of my childhood and teenage years burning myself out through competitive surfing. By the time I was 18, I was completely burnt out on competition and decided to apply my focus to academia. I transferred from Orange Coast Community College to UC Berkeley and wanted to pursue a PhD in economics, until I blew a mental gasket overworking myself in the fall semester of my senior year and I couldn't fulfill the necessary requirements to be an eligible applicant for the graduate schools I was interested in. I ended up applying for any job I could get at the time and landed a job as an investment banker at JP Morgan – needless to say it was a terrible fit and brought me to one of the lowest mental points of my life. On the upside, this is where I really started listening to myself and hatched the concept for Daydream! I continued to push aside societal expectations of what success was supposed to look like and started focusing on what it meant to be a post-college millennial and the need to pave my own individual path.

Becca and I met down in Southern California and both moved up to the Bay Area at the same time, she graduated from Newport Harbor High School and was accepted to the University of San Francisco where she studied fine art and design. She worked as an assistant interior designer for two years, she is incredibly talented at building beautiful spaces but became disillusioned with the clientele and wanted more creative freedom. Becca is definitely responsible for creating the unique look and feel of Daydream. Everything from the shapes of the furniture and displays to the colors and textures are all well-thought-out blueprints that Becca created.

We have an entire section of the shop devoted to the surf club with a rack of 24 rotating experimental designs from Andreini Edge Boards to Gato Heroi logs and Liddles.

What was the inspiration to start a surf/coffee shop?

We wanted to create a social atmosphere that brought like-minded folks together with an intellectual focus on applied quantitative and empirical problem solving and experimentation. This approach is applicable to both coffee and surfing alike. Having specialty coffee and a members based surf club is what really helps to turn a shop into a communal meeting place rather than a shopping experience. We have an entire section of the shop devoted to the surf club with a rack of 24 rotating experimental designs from Andreini Edge Boards to Gato Heroi logs and Liddles. We have our surf club capped at 20 members so that there's always something available for people to test out. These two components in particular help to build the social atmosphere we set out to create with Daydream.

Why did you decide to open a shop in Newport Beach?

This is our home, Becca grew up here, I don't really consider myself to have "grown up" in any one particular place because I moved around a ton when I was growing up, I lived in Corona Del Mar, moved to Huntington Beach, then to Costa Mesa, and finally Newport before we left to go to school in the Bay area. That being said, I do feel like Newport and Costa Mesa is the place we call home. In addition, the entire Westside of Costa Mesa is going through a really rad transition, there's a rebirth of small businesses run by impassioned people such as Costa Mesa Ceramics, What Youth, Herewith, Open House Creative, Common Room Roasters, Outpost Kitchen, Costa Mesa Surf Club, Costa Mesa Conceptual Art Center, The Boathouse Collective, Almond, and the soon to come Costa Mesa Market.

Someone who dives deep into the music of Miles Davis or likes the esoteric chaos of Sun Ra; someone who enjoys the instability that only a Gato Heroi possesses...

Who is your target customer?

I would say someone who enjoys the abstract components of the human experience. It would be great if they surf but that definitely isn't a prerequisite. Someone who dives deep into the music of Miles Davis or likes the esoteric chaos of Sun Ra; someone who enjoys the instability that only a Gato Heroi possesses or the rubber-band-like forward projection of a Liddle; someone that appreciates quality yet lacks a materialistic nature; people who enjoy the ocean for its abundance of negative space and the subsequent encouragement of existential introspection.

Who are some of the shapers/boards you’ve chosen to curate in your shop?

We will have a number of shapers cycle through the shop with a particular focus on boards built with goals of high speed trimming and drawing of eloquent lines. Currently, between the boards on our new and surf club rack, we have work by Andreini, Alex Knost, Gato Heroi, Liddle, Ellis Ericson, Klaus Jones, Troy Elmore, Tyler Warren, Somma Special Designs, Tanner Barrett, Gary Hanel, Campbell Brothers, Archaic Craft, Deepest Reaches, Spacetime, Griffin Stepanek, Tanner Prairie, Jacobs, Brian Hilbers, Daily Shred, Scott Anderson, Crimson Eye, Ryan Lovelace, and many more.

What has been the reaction to Daydream Surf Shop since you’ve opened?

Better than I expected! The folks that have signed up for the surf club are absolutely awesome. I never knew so many people had such great taste in surfboards and surf history here in Orange County! It's also great seeing folks reaction to specialty coffee if it’s their first time tasting Sightglass or a single origin espresso, or a pour over, etc. it seems to be a significant moment as if it is a quantum leap in taste experience.

Are you planning any in-store events?

Most definitely! We will be having plenty of events to come starting with our Grand Opening party Friday, March 3rd where we will be serving up dinner and drinks accompanied by live music courtesy of The Pesos and new artwork by Tyler Warren. We will be hosting regular documentary film nights, surf film screenings, live jams, and workshops.

What’s next for Daydream Surf Shop?

We're just taking it one day at a time and trying to help turn some folks onto some rad goods and ideas. I'm really more excited about encouraging friends to start up their own ventures in the neighborhood. We've already had so many buddies in our friend group use our space and a spot for consulting and helping them get ideas rolling for interesting jazz to bring to the community. We cannot wait to see these ideas play out! I'm also excited about enrolling in some local community volunteer programs such as the Shalimar Learning Center to help do my part to give back to this awesome little slice of Costa Mesa that is our home.

Credits: Lifestyle photography by Chelsea Jeheber. Surf photography by Alex Swanson. Daydream Surf Shop is located at 1588 Monrovia Ave Newport Beach CA 92663 and is open from 8 am - 6 pm, Monday - Saturday, closed on Sundays. Check out their website at or follow them on Instagram.