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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Don The Beachcomber, Marina Del Rey, CA (restaurant)
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Don The Beachcomber, Marina Del Rey, CA (restaurant)
PremEx
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 296
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2006-11-13 8:23 pm   Permalink

Name: Don The Beachcomber
Type: restaurant
Street: 13530 Bali Way
City: Marina Del Rey
State: CA
Zip: 90292
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
This was a full Don The Beachcomber restaurant and bar right in the marina area of Marina Del Rey, California. It was in a large round building that apparently is still standing. See the round structure in the middle of this Google Map:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?J13922A2E

It was lushly landscaped with waterfalls, streams and lots of tikis inside and out. Killer drinks and tasty (mostly Cantonese) food at a great waterfront/marina location.

If anyone has any more info, stories, menus, pictures, or links...I'd love to see 'em. Thanks.

[ This Message was edited by: PremEx 2006-11-15 19:33 ]


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PremEx
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 296
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2006-11-13 8:42 pm   Permalink

We used to go to this Don's all the time in the late 70's to the early 80's. We just loved the place!

But the only "artifact" that I have after all those visits is this Polaroid taken there in 1981 by one of those ladies that came by your table with a camera:



That's me on the left in the 3-piece suit and with the plastic lei! Ugh!

But other than that one photo...all I have are my memories of the place now.

Don't know what ever came after it. One day we just came there to dine and it was something else (a Mexican restaurant, I think). Really missed her!

[ This Message was edited by: PremEx 2006-11-15 18:29 ]


 
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PremEx
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 296
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2006-11-15 7:30 pm   Permalink

Soooooo...

I was headed down the 405 freeway coming from the San Fernando Valley this afternoon, and I really didn't have to be back at the office for any particular reason...so I took the Marina Del Rey turnoff to visit the site and see if I could do a little detective work on this former location of Don The Beachcomber.

Afraid to report that based upon my success...it appears I'm not much of a Colombo.

Headed down Bali Way and nothing much has changed in the whole area except perhaps the palm trees have grown a bit taller. And right there was the building that at first glance looked just like the last time I had seen it over 20 years ago.

(Apologies for the crummy photo quality. The only camera I had with me was the one in my cell phone.)

The distinctive round structure with its nipple crown:



...and its Polynesian style influenced curved outward buttresses:



I then scoured the area looking for any artifacts of the old Don's, but there appeared to be none with no tikis at all and the little creek and pond filled in with just grass now:



But then at the far end I did discover one piece from the Don days...this now-dry lava rock terraced waterfall that used to be the start of the stream and koi pond feature:



...but again as you can see, the basin of the waterfall and ponds has been filled in. I did also spot part of the original recirculation system for this old water feature. I remember this area being so beautiful at night, with all the landscaping and lighting it used to feature. I could almost hear the sounds of the falls in my mind as I was standing there. This area was also viewable from inside the restaurant, though the windows.

What landscaping remains, is still being maintained to some degree.

The entrance to the restaurant had a paper sign taped to it saying that all deliveries should be made to the Marina Del Rey Hotel next door. There were new Venetian blinds on all the windows, but one had a gap in it that I peeked through and saw somewhat new currently unused office space inside, finished in gray-painted drywall with drop-ceiling tiles. All that great woodwork and vaulted ceilings hidden from view now.

I decided to walk over to the hotel to see if they could provide any info to what happened to all the tiki, or if they had any photos, or if anyone there even worked there back then that remembered it when it was Don's. The Front Desk turned me on to one of the maintenance guys that had worked there the longest, but even he didn't work there that far back when it was Don's. But he did remember when it was Don's because he said when he first moved to the area...he got drunk there at Don's bar when he was just 14 years old!

He then went on to tell me that some time ago they gutted the whole interior of the building and there is nothing left of any restaurant inside now. They finished off the interior as office space and they've put it on the market trying to find someone to rent the building for their business.

Walking back to Don's from the hotel, I snapped this shot of the backside where you can see where the kitchen section came off the back end of the main circular building:



Anyway...that's about it. I was hoping someone at the hotel had maintained a small archive or scrapbook of the hotel's history and perhaps Don's too, but they didn't have any. I don't know if the hotel owned the building when it was Don the Beachcomber. But they own it now, apparently.

Being there today really brought back a lot of fond memories. The place would still make a great location for a tiki bar and restaurant.





 
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pappythesailor
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Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2006-11-15 7:50 pm   Permalink

Good work, anyway, PremEx. Thanks for the time and effort and for sharing it.

 
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Ojaitimo
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Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 1317
Posted: 2006-12-18 09:15 am   Permalink













I would like to photograph the interior and if anyone has a suggestion (other than breaking in) I would appreciate it. The building is standing empty next to the Marina Del Rey Hotel to which it is attached.


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PremEx
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Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 296
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2006-12-18 12:35 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the additional pictures!

Quote:
I would like to photograph the interior and if anyone has a suggestion (other than breaking in) I would appreciate it. The building is standing empty next to the Marina Del Rey Hotel to which it is attached.



I would suggest simply calling the hotel and asking someone if it's possible. They do take prospective lessees through there on site inspections. On my impromptu visit, I asked about going inside and was told the person I needed to speak with was away that day, so that was that for me. But they all seemed very friendly and I got the feeling they'd be glad to accommodate a simple fan on a nostalgic re-visit.

As I said above, it's been converted to office space inside and they are trying to rent it to some business tenant. I was able to see in one of the windows that was partially open as I also mentioned above.


 
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bigbrotiki
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11239
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-12-21 12:16 pm   Permalink

I am pretty sure it is completely gutted. This was the site of a legendary auction in the 80's, after its closure. Apparently quite a few artifacts had migrated from the original Hollywood Beachcomber to here (after ITS closure), and original celebrity chopsticks in their bamboo cases (BOT p.74) as well as original Leetegs (!) were sold off for a few dollars. I was still new in town then, and only heard about it afterwards...

 
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Ojaitimo
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Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 1317
Posted: 2007-01-06 09:21 am   Permalink

I returned to photograph in better light yeasterday and made an interesting discovery. Behind this wall of bamboo were remnants of the original panels that were gutted.










[ This Message was edited by: Ojaitimo 2007-01-06 22:27 ]


 
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big kahuna59
Member

Joined: Jan 21, 2007
Posts: 7
From: Temecula, CA
Posted: 2007-01-21 8:49 pm   Permalink

Wow! Thanks everyone who has gone to such lengths to share all these memories wth the rest of us! I'm really going down memory lane as this is where I took my prospective bride to ask if she would marry me back in July of 1982. Well, it worked as we will be celebrating our 25th this year. Don's was one of our favs, both Hollywood & Marina del Rey locations. Such atmosphere!

I'll let you in on a little secret about this restaurant. If you want to see the interior, rent a copy of "Loverboy" starring a little known young man at the time, Patrick Dempsy! (of Grey's Anatomy fame). It is actually a funny little show & I think you'll enjoy it. At the end of the movie, the parents celebrate with a party for something, anyway, they hold it at Don's & you'll see quite a bit of the interior before it was destroyed.

Enjoy!
Kahuna


 
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Hiphipahula
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: May 27, 2006
Posts: 2426
From: The Valley! Female, leo,fav color pink.
Posted: 2007-01-22 12:10 am   Permalink

Lets buy it, Open it up.

 
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Ojaitimo
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Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 1317
Posted: 2007-01-23 8:27 pm   Permalink

Believe me I'd like to reopen it but the Pacific Hotel group has other plans for the space. I was attempting to negotiate the space for a installation of Don's houseboat and bar but I was turned down. My brother had expressed an interest in turning the interior into an enviromental installation.
When I spoke to them about the space for a possible installation, the person had never heard of Don the Beachcomber or his history as the father of American tiki.
I can only imagine what they have in mind for that space but if someone was serious about reopening it they would probably listen, (I suggested that he research Don the Beachcomber on google to get a background on him)
I just wrote to Don's widow Phoebe and her husband Arnold today and invited them here with the link so hopefully they will weigh in on this if they read this.
Heres to Lt. Col Don Beach, this Febuary 22 at the Warehouse 4Pm to 9PM PST we are celebrating his 100th birthday celebration. I will have a display of images and I hope to see some of you there.
We will be making a side trip(Via taxi) to pay homage to Don at his old restaurant and toast him there. Thanks to Lee Spencer the owner of the Warehouse restaurant, who wants to honor Lt. Col. Don Beach along with us. Hope to see some of you there or online at that time. I will log onto Tiki Central & Tiki Shout and let you know what we are doing.
Big Kahuna, thanks for the tip about the interior.
( Grog, you can come but not with the club as Kenny won't be there if you bring it)


Tim Ojaitimo

_________________
All the world is a stage and all men and women merely players, they have their entrances and exits and one man in his life plays many parts. William Shakespere

Life is a state of mind

[ This Message was edited by: Ojaitimo 2007-01-23 20:29 ]


 
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Ojaitimo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 1317
Posted: 2007-01-25 2:39 pm   Permalink

I recieved this letter today from Phoebe Beach


(Quote)
Aloha Tim...

Thank you for your e-mail. We will check out Tiki Central on the
Internet.

We are glad you enjoyed our book, HAWAII Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine
by Don the Beachcomber. It was fun to put together, but most of the
Don the Beachcomber story unfortunately could not be included in the
book because it was orignally supposed to be a recipe book. We were
fortunate to have even a portion of his story included, and this
happened only because the girls at Mutual Publishing were fascinated
by Donn's accomplishments and his life's story.

Donn Beach - a.k.a. Don the Beachcomber - was a remarkable man. His
career took him all around the world, and his contributions to the
tourist industry throughout the nations of the Pacific Rim were
numerous. He may be best remembered for his many exotic tropical rhum
concoctions and his tiki theme restaurants, especially his favorite,
the original Don's Beachcomber restaurant on McCadden Street in
Hollywood where be became good friends with many of Hollywood's stars,
and the place where most of those drinks were invented. But Donn was
a visionary whose many ideas were far ahead of their time, yet, today,
they can be found in use at tourist destinations all all around the
world.

We will celebrate Donn on his 100th birthday here in New Zealand where
we are vacationing.

Thanks again for your e-mail.

Aloha, Phoebe and Arnold


 
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Ojaitimo
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Joined: Aug 04, 2006
Posts: 1317
Posted: 2007-02-08 12:58 am   Permalink



Thursday February 22, 2007 is Donn Beach's 100th. A few of us are meeting at the Warehouse next to this former Don the Beachcomber and plan to head over at sunset to toast the father of American tiki. Please join us between 4:30 PM & 5:30 PM for happy hour at the Warehouse restaurant when we will carpool over to pay homage to him.
_________________

Life is a state of mind


 
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PremEx
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Joined: Aug 23, 2006
Posts: 296
From: Houston, Texas
Posted: 2007-02-08 5:24 pm   Permalink

Quote:



Cool postcard find there. Thanks! That's the kind of Don's Marina Del Rey location memorabilia I was looking for in my Post #1 of this thread!

Too soon for me to know if I'll be in town on the 22nd for this remembrance of Don's and Donn. But I'm gonna try like heck to be there!


 
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KreepyTiki
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Joined: Mar 18, 2007
Posts: 193
Posted: 2007-06-28 03:58 am   Permalink

For whatever it's worth (probably quite a lot, actually, in more ways than ONE) a very dear friend of mine was one of the fortunate folks who attended that legendary Don The Beachcomber auction and, as a result, still has a large amount of the interior decor of the Marina Don's! Currently in storage, he's got a number of float lights, a slew of the framed celebrity and party photos that lined some of the walls, and, coolest of all (among lots of other cool stuff), he's got a bunch of the towering, intricately carved wooden wall panels which Oceanic Arts made for the restaurant way back when! Amazing, or WHAT? Anyway, he seems open to the idea of selling his Beachcomber collection, though I'm sure it's gonna be for a heckuva lot more clams than it cost him at the auction when they practically couldn't GIVE the stuff away!

Mahalo, Castaway Clemens


 
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