Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sam's Seafood and Ken Avey

We just thought Sam's Seafood -- the last authentic 1960s tiki-themed establishment in O.C. -- was saved from the bulldozer. Perhaps not. The landlords held a meeting last night to discuss replacing this Sunset Beach icon with generic retail spaces and condos!
Chris Garland of TikiCentral went to the meeting and reported back. His entire post is worth reading, but here are a few snippets:

"About 25 people showed to the 'informal' meeting held by the owner of the land Sam's sits on... I think the coup de gras came when I asked if they had contingency plans if the Sam's building became a designated landmark. The partner looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language! His 'deer in the headlights' look showed everyone that ...they had not considered this a potential obstacle!

"...If the [restaurant] owners hooked up with some historical society members and some tiki freaks, they could (and should) pursue the idea of turning the Sam's building into an historical landmark. The current managing partner of Sam's seems wiling to do what it takes to make the restaurant become successful again. ...I'll keep optimistic about the immediate future of the last remaining tiki temple in the O.C."

Many of you know Sharon Avey from her many years at the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum, her book, or her many other historical projects and activities. Sadly, Sharon's husband, Ken Avey, passed away recently. The funeral will be held on Saturday the 15th, in Independence, California. However, there will also be a memorial held locally on Sunday, March 30, 2pm at Key Ranch in Placentia.
My personal thanks to everyone who responded to yesterday's post -- in the comments section, via email, and in person. Your moral support is definitely appreciated. I'll write more when I know more.


Anonymous said...

My favorite memories of Sam's is going there for H.S. prom and being served by a waitress with a big boufont hairdo and an attitude like Flo at Mel's diner. She must have been there since the 1940's (and this was in the mid 1980's).

Also, it was a doulble date. My buddy was telling a funny story and flailed his arm against some of the bamboo/straw that was on the walls and a bunch of very dead cockroaches dropped out from behind the bamboo. Our dates freaked out, but I said "no, that's good because it means they fumigate - you don't want to eat in a place where the LIVE ones fall out."

Also, my dad said that all the Long Beach mobsters used to meet at Sam's as late as the early 1970's. Probably just a tale, but I always remember him saying that everytime we drove by the place.

walterworld said...

My only Sam's experience was in 2005, when I was driving past and stopped to take a picture of the place.

I was a little behind in time and needed to get back to the Anaheim area, so I didn't pause for a closer inspection of the lounge....wish I had!

I sure hope it can be saved...

Anonymous said...

Beverly Bonning and the Lobster Dance
I had let it go from my memory but then on a dig one year in college we were talking about the worst dates we had ever been on! As people talked And things were getting hilarious I all of sudden recalled this! I am sure the girl in question also calls this her worst too! Ok, the details as I recall them! Dick my buddy was going to go out with Karen on a nice date and asked me if I wanted to go along with them. I had no special girl at the time so I searched the yearbook for a likely candidate. It was something at which Rick Oliver and I had become quite proficient. We would look a girl up and then call cold and spent time getting to know them and before we hung up we got to the real reason for the call…a date for such and such. Since we were great at talking things up usually they agreed to go…but it was no big deal if we failed…the yearbook was full of girls and with a school population of 2500 people a little over half of which are girls with just one yearbook you have about 1250 or more to choose from. I had asked out this very pretty (to me… I was extremely prejudiced) redhead, named Beverly Bonning. I think now that she must have been an alien or some other mutant species at the least. She went to another school,
Estancia High School and I was pleasantly surprised by her acceptance of the date. I was always amazed that a girl would date a boy she had never met. I assume that she looked me up in her freshman year yearbook…. And saw that I at least looked normal (Ha, little did she know!!!!) She was small 5’4” 115 pounds with lots of freckles (Freckles are an absolute aphrodisiac to me!)(Maybe I am the alien) and flaming bright red hair that was very unruly and very frizzy. Perfect for me I thought.
We went to Disneyland for five or six hours and did the rides and dancing. I tried to talk with her but she was more or less mum. The mother ship must have ordered her to not reveal anything about the upcoming invasion. At that time in my history Disneyland was a favorite place to go for meaningful dates. It costs enough that the girl knew you liked her to spend all that loot and yet, maybe they felt the pressure of a boy spending a lot on her, so maybe he expected something in return… maybe that was the problem. Any way she was as humorless as any date I have ever had. Dick and Karen (On only their third date) are full of good humor and fun. They have always been fun people to me. I love hanging out with fun and crazy people. (I am missing all my serious genes… from a serious childhood accident) So that she was being so flat and lifeless was really depressing to me. After all this frivolity we left Disney and went to Sam’s Seafood, a very good restaurant in Seal Beach, California. It was made of old parts of piers and nets from ships and had all sorts of atmosphere. It was on Coast Highway about 20 miles from Disneyland and it was almost always packed! It was the most expensive date that I had gone on up to that time. I was hoping to impress her so money or lack of same was no object…I could owe dad for ages if this worked out. She was just bored to tears and very quiet. I am trying to recall if I ever spoke to her now. Maybe she communicated telepathically since I can’t recall any audible conversation. Well, as the evening wore on and on and on, I got bored with her as well, and I hoped that the dinner would be nice. We both ordered Lobster Thermidor. Neither of us knew what that was but it sounded good. I hated it and Bev hated it (Hey finally a common agreement of sorts! Maybe this is going to work out just fine!!) so we tried to eat what was there on the plate with as little lobster as possible. Dick and Karen really wanted something decent so outsmarting me they ordered something edible. As yet they had not been noticing our problems. Bev is just sullen by now and I am fully puzzled by her and her attitude. I was probably saying things to her that she was hoping to ignore and this made her more and more uncomfortable. I was also getting worried over the steam pulsating from her ears!
Sadly, for my dates I guess, this always sets my mind working in a better and more creative way! So, I grabbed my lobster and then I glanced at her and she is sitting there pouting (still looking very lovely I must add!) and I dearly want to kiss those lips by the way…pouting lips drive me crazy! So I reached over, she leaned quickly away from me fearing the worst, and I took her lobster too. With both lobsters in my hands now I dressed them up with parsley in each claw and a few sprigs jammed in their heads and began a song and dance routine with the lobsters by holding one in each hand and making them dance to my songs. I began with “Hello My Honey” a great song of the 1930’s or the depression era anyway. I was well into the second chorus when I noticed that Dick and Karen had caught on and were laughing so hard that other tables were noticing. These wonderful crustaceans were even doing the can-can… a very difficult step for dead lobsters. Many of the people at surrounding tables all started watching the floor show and were laughing and applauding until the Maitre’d came over and asked me (not the alien… just me!) to leave the premises as quickly as I could manage it. I said I’d be happy to as soon as the others had finished eating, he stood there with the same stern alien face that Bev was wearing (hmmmmmm) so we hurried up and left to a round of applause and some cold hard stares from others from the same ship that brought the Maitre'd. Beverly sat through all this with the reddest face I have ever seen on a human being. She was redder than the lobsters ever could have been. On the way home, she sat in stony silence with little wisps of smoke still slowly escaping from her ears and nostrils. She was as near bursting into flames as any girl I had ever met! Now that I think a bit I can’t recall any dated actually cathing on fire…but I was picking up an aroma of burnt cloth. Dick, Karen, and I totally enjoyed ourselves most of the time and this night was no exception so we joked and laughed all the way to Bev’s home. I walked Bev to her door and she quickly went in and slammed the door in my face. Needless to say, she has never spoken to me since that day. I tried to call her a few times but she was always “unavailable” each time I got any answer at all from her family. Karen tagged her with the name Bozo from this date (it was the hair!!!!) and that was all she used to refer to her for many years. I now recall more and more of this each time I think of it and Bev never seems to get any better (Attitude wise… I still to this day love the way she looked then!). I wonder now if we ever really spoke at all on the date! We never kissed much to my great and lasting regret…. And I am fully sure to her great relief! Red hair and girls with red hair in green dresses have always been just too sexy for me to pass up. And since our high school had green and white for colors and we had a drill team for football season halftimes and a few red heads that just looked so great in those tight green bodices and flared short skirts… I was in Nirvana most of my high school days.
That was my worst date! I had so many bad ones but this one was the classic! I wonder if I am in many girls bad date lists! Maureen McSomething (I think it is McCorry) says I am on her S--- list for introducing her to a guy she got dumped by for an 8th grader he liked! She adds me to her bad list for that faux pas. Heck Bill Richardson fell for this nubile young 8th grader ‘cuz she was just plain hot! I mean screaming hot! How can I help that! Maureen just never had a chance and Maureen was wonderful! She was a dancing partner of mine at the Rendezvous often! We never won any of the dance contests but we came close once or twice. Bill was on the track team with me and I never saw him after graduation day! I wonder what happened to him? Was that 8th grader an alien and took him off to the home planet?

Anonymous said...

San's died because of one thing. Horrible food. Last time we were there was in 95 or 96 and have never been back. Dried swoedfish and not all the way cooked rice goes a long way to killing a business, tiki or not.

Unknown said...

I was just looking at a pic that my mother gave to me. It is the four of us at Sam's Seafood in July 1963 it's my Mother, Father, my older Brother and myself at 4 mo's old. It's great to see myself as a baby having dinner out with my mom and dad on thier 9th anniversary. It's to cool there is a match book that came with the pictures that is a post card of the four of us and the match book just has a pic of 4 mo old me. Wow I wish I could have had some of the great food back then. But it was just baby food and milk from mom that night. Well that is my thought on Sam's Seafood.

Brad said...

My first memories of this restaurant were in about 1960 when my dad and grandfather brought me here. They were regular, locals. I always had swordfish!