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Tiki Central Forums Ľ Ľ Locating Tiki Ľ Ľ Christian's Hut, Multiple Locations, CA (restaurant)
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Christian's Hut, Multiple Locations, CA (restaurant)
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-11 7:02 pm   Permalink

Name:Christian's Hut
Type:restaurant
Street:
City:Multiple Locations
State:CA
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
There have been little bits and pieces of the history of the Christian's Hut posted on various threads on TC and I decided it was time to start a thread on Locating Tiki to to put it all together.

As many know, Christian's Hut began life in 1934 at the Twin Harbors Isthmus on Catalina Island as a bar built for the cast and crew filming the movie Mutiny on the Bounty. Here is a postcard that I picked up (after JP posted it) showing a nice rendering of the Christianís Hut building by the pier.





Another old photo postcard I saw on ebay.


This part of the photo shows a deck added to the left side of the building.



Clark Gable lived above the bar and may have owned it. The bartender was none other than Ray Buhen (from the Tiki Ti). Here is a photo posted by Bigbro showing Ray and the sign "Christian's Hut, Pitcairn Island, Prop.(rietor) Clark Gable"



A story on the photo and another pic of Ray from the Filipino History of Los Angeles book.





The Catalina Christianís hut became a famous movie star hangout with the yachts of John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, etc. moored at Isthmus. With all of the movie sets, the Isthmus became a South Seas set on its own, as described in the Catalina brochure.



You can see Christian's Hut in this photo from the brochure.



At some point Art La Shelle became involved in the Catalina Christian's Hut. I found this on the web:

Art and a fellow named Joe Guido ran a bar on the Catalina isthmus named Christian's Hut. Art had some kind of a background in the movies. I never was quite sure what it was, but he seemed to know a good many movie people. Be that as it may, the movie people who frequented the isthmus made Christian's Hut a popular place.

Art and Joe moved the operation (in name only) to to Balboa Island in Newport Beach in a building that was the old Southern Seas Club.






Note the reference to the bouncer, found this little nugget:

"Art hired Don Vaughn as bouncer, and Don invented a new concept in throwing out unruly customers. He carried them out to the end of the pier and threw them into the bay."

This is where we first see the famous "Goof" caricature on the roof. I am not sure when the Goof appeared, but this was rendering was published in a Ford Cookbook in 1951.





And this great photo of the Goof on the Roof from Critiki.



A menu mailer I have






An a matchbook from the Balboa location.






Christian's Hut Was A Big Draw For The Hollywood Set Because It Was Owned By The Brother Of One Of Hollywood's Biggest Cinematographers.

In the late 1930s, Art La Shelle opened Christian's Hut, a Tahitian style restaurant and bar on the bay front, now the location of Newport Towers. Christian's Hut was noted for its great oriental style food, and was always being frequented by the Hollywood set. Red Skelton, Johnny Weismuller, Fred Mac Murray, and Howard Hughes to name a few. Joe La Shelle, Art's brother, was an Oscar-winning cinematographer, one of his more well-known movies was "The Birds."

This rare circa 1945 aerial view shows Christian's Hut in its heyday.


Much of the Christian's Hut food was prepared in a big outdoor cooking pit. No one could figure out how the filet mignon could be crispy-charred on the outside and rare in the middle. One regular customer was told in confidence the secret was to first freeze the steak, toss it on a white-hot grill to sear it, then drop it into a deep fryer. The downstairs bar area had a sand floor which led all the way to the water where the patrons would beach their boats. The dining room was upstairs. Marshall, the maitre d', was given the nickname Francois, because he would kiss the hand of every woman coming in the door, starting at her finger tips and working his way up her arm all the way to her head.


The Goof that adorned the roof was of course moved to the Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island in San Diego where it still resides.



This info from the Bali Hai website:

Bali Hai was the first Tiki temple erected on Shelter Island and was originally called ďThe HutĒ, a subsidiary of Christianís Hut in Newport Beach, California. Only two years after itís opening in 1953, the Hutís manager, Tom Ham, took over the ailing business, gave it a new name (after the movie Bali Hai was released) and transformed it into the most happening place in San Diego.

Here is a coaster I saw that advertises the Balboa and Shelter Island Locations.



This makes me think that the Shelter Island location was the first spin off.


The Balboa Island location was lost to a fire in 1963.




The third restaurant popped up in Laguna Beach as seen on this matchbook.





I also have this refrigerator magnet made from a Gimlet drink card from the Balboa and Laguna locations.




The next one in the chain was located in Corona Del Mar at the Jamaican Inn.




This matchbook had a pop-up Goof on the inside of teh book.




There was another location in Honolulu, Hawaii. The only info I found for that was from this obiturary of Eugene Dukette:

Dukette managed the properties until the partnership dissolved. He moved to Hawaii helping open Christians Hut Honolulu, first as assistant manager, then manager.

It says he returned to Balboa in 1958 so the Honolulu location must have started sometime before then.

That's it for now.

DC



[ This Message was edited by: Dustycajun 2011-12-12 17:08 ]


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-12 5:28 pm   Permalink

Another little sound bite for the Hawaii location from a September 5, 1957 Hawaiian newspaper article in the Daily Reporter.



Looks like it opened in 1957 and that Fred MacMurray and John Wayne had some money invested in it with Art LaShelle. I also read that John Wayne had a financial interest in the Balboa Christian's Hut.

DC


 
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RevBambooBen
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 12, 2002
Posts: 7446
From: Huntikington Beach
Posted: 2011-12-12 6:58 pm   Permalink

Awesome!

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11137
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-12-12 7:59 pm   Permalink

Nice collection, DC, good to have it all in one place; Here's the post that tells the background of Christian's Hut best:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=1099&forum=5&vpost=427253

Wonderful info, but what we STILL have no idea of is how "THE GOOF" Character came into being! Here is a great menu from Jeff Chenault's collection that used to be from "The Hut" on Shelter Island and was refurbed by the Bali Hai by printing the island over the name!





Wish I would have had that to add to my "Migration of the Goof" chart in the BOT !





[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-12-12 20:03 ]


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Phillip Roberts
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1598
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2011-12-13 1:51 pm   Permalink

Aloha,

Quote:

On 2011-12-12 17:28, Dustycajun wrote:
Another little sound bite for the Hawaii location from a September 5, 1957 Hawaiian newspaper article in the Daily Reporter.



Looks like it opened in 1957 and that Fred MacMurray and John Wayne had some money invested in it with Art LaShelle. I also read that John Wayne had a financial interest in the Balboa Christian's Hut.

DC



Great Info DC. I'll hit the library when I have some time and scan some microfilm... the 1957 Local paper's probably have an advertisment for the opening...or a review or something!
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-17 10:29 am   Permalink

Bigbro,

Thanks for posting your menu, what a great history piece with both The Hut and Bali Hai represented on the same cover!

Here are some other photos of the interior you posted years ago.

"I only have two photocopies of the interior, and they don't show any velvets:




This clipping gives a date to his experiencing the demise of this Polynesian power spot:




Now if we can get PTD to re-post his great old Christian's Hut menu here. It was one of the casualties of the great white-out of 2011.

DC


 
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Psycho Tiki D
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 13, 2006
Posts: 1808
From: The river Styx, can you pay the toll?
Posted: 2011-12-19 1:27 pm   Permalink

















 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-20 4:34 pm   Permalink

PTD, Thanks so much for posting that awesome menu, this thread would not be complete without it.

I found another Santa Catalina brochure dated 1939 that had a photo and write up on Chirstian's Hut and





Another reference to the Hollywood movie tie in to the Isthmus.



With that 1939 date, makes you think that the Balboa and Catalina Christian's Hut restaurants operated simultaneously.

Keeping "Tiki Revival" alive one post at a time.

DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11137
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-12-20 6:54 pm   Permalink

Yes you are, pal! Glad you picked up the scent on the Catalina thing...

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-01-05 7:23 pm   Permalink

Bongofury had posted that the Christian's Hut in Balboa was used to film the movie The Breaking Point which was released in 1950 starring John Garfield and Patricia Neal. I have never seen the movie but did find some movie handbills that show a restaurant scene that must have been shot in Christian's Hut.








The movie is supposed to a great film noir version of Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not", better than the Bogart and Bacall version.


DC


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-03-06 07:40 am   Permalink

Saw this menu from The Hut on Shelter Island which became the Bali Hai.





Good to see the The original version before it got a paint job and became the Bali Hai menu that Bigbro posted.




DC


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4275
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-03-06 12:36 pm   Permalink

Now we know where that early Bali Hai matchbook with the drummer image came from, The Hut menu!




(image courtesy of Buzzy)

Here is a 1954 photo of The Hut, pre-Bali Hai, posted by Matterhorn in the Bali Hai thread.




DC


 
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Phillip Roberts
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1598
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2012-04-16 11:46 pm   Permalink

Aloha,

I think I've managed to tie the Hawaii connection together. Somewhat, maybe, well not all yet but...

DC wrote... Great TIP!

Quote:
Looks like it opened in 1957 and that Fred MacMurray and John Wayne had some money invested in it with Art LaShelle



I promised and I did go to the library (and while I forgot a zip drive that day I read that...)

July 1957 Star Bulletin reports Grand opening of Christian's Hut by Art... He's purchased the Kewalo Inn, and after a facelift of the interior was the grand opening complete with a lounge just like the ones in California... $10,000 spent in remodel...

AND the Goof atop the building...

Reports the paper.

So picture this place with the goof atop.



The Kewalo Inn / Fisherman's Wharf. Hawaii's Oldest Historic Waterfront Restaurant

I don't know when the place closed (yet) and became the Fisherman's Grotto... I do know The Grotto was a Spencecliff operation and the large anchor was moved from Trader Vic's Ward to Kewalo after the sale in 1967.

In Waikiki Tiki, about five or pages before the Ceramics section is a photograph labeled "A Coconut tree carving located near the Chinese Graveyard in Pahoa Valley. It actually overlooks the Graveyard (Btw). Could this be the missing Goof of Honolulu?


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11137
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-04-17 12:11 am   Permalink

Hmmm...the crooked teeth seem like a good clue....one would have to go there and explore the side view and what's hidden on top!

 
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Phillip Roberts
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1598
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2012-04-24 6:27 pm   Permalink

Aloha
Quote:

On 2012-04-17 00:11, bigbrotiki wrote:
Hmmm...one would have to go there and explore the side view and what's hidden on top!


...and sadly, that won't be happening since when I went by today it was GONE. there was quite a large gap inside the tree that could have hidden the crown...

The owner wasn't home, I'll swing by and see if he's moved it the next chance I get. I'll have to check back through my files and see if I have a side view somewhere..


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Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
Available now from
Bess Press Hawaii.

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