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Don The Beachcombers Restaurant Photos

Don The Beachcomber Restaurant Photos

Photos of Don The Beachcomber Restaraunt ar very rare. Some of the best vintage photos are on the hollywoodphotographs.com website. All photos are vailable for purchase.

Don the Beachcomber photo

The story of Don the beachcomber began shortly after prohibition. A small-town Minnesota school teacher with a big imagination named Cora Irene Sund saved enough money so that she could move to Los Angeles and secure a job as a waitress at  the tick-tock restaurant ., Cahuenga Avenue. Cora Sue met and inventive bartender, Ernest Gantt, who served exotic rum drinks at his tacky tropical bar located in a Hollywood Hotel. His moniker was Don the beachcomber. When the schoolteacher and bartender mated, Hollywood's first tropical restaurant was born.  

Restaurant photo

Original Don The Beachcomber Resturant

After borrowing money, the couple opened the Don of the beachcombers restaurant at 1722 N. McCadden Pl., in the heart of Hollywood. A few years later,  they moved the restaurant to a more fitting location across the street at 1727 N. McCadden Pl.  in 1937. There the couple created their own Hollywood influenced romantic notion of tropical paradise, in Hollywood. The restaurant, complete with artificial rainstorms designed to romantically pitter patter down on the corrugated iron roof, was an immediate success.

Photo of Don The Beachcomber Restaurant

New Don The Beachcomber Restaurant

Film land personalities have always had a soft spot for hidden hotspots, and Don the beachcombers was just that. From the outside, the place, surrounded in a forest of bamboo was hard to find, save for a small sign that was intentionally made difficult to read - the underlying message being that if you didn't know where it was you didn't belong.

But inside, Hollywood's first South seat eatery, the owners let their collective fantasies run wild. It was 20 years ahead of Disneyland, and Hollywood's royalty, including the Marx Brothers,  Bing Crosby, Marlene Dietrich, and Greer Garson basked in the folly. The proof was their chopsticks which were enshrined in a glass case.

Small dining rooms, which bore names like the cannibal room, were decorated with palm trees, bananas, coconuts, seashells, sharks jaws, headdresses and carved wooden gods. At one point, the restaurant included a Chinese grocery store, rum shop, gift shop and lei shop. the island shaped dining room tables were made of varnished woods, and more than a few glamorous creatures received proposals of one sort or another in the provocative, candle illuminated rooms. Certainly helping things along where Don's intoxicating rum drinks - missionaries downfall, vicious virgin, cobras fang and the notorious zombie. Don's rum concoctions were so ingenious they even impress drinkers like trader Vic Bergeron.

Cantonese Food

While Don handled the bar part of the business, Cora hired Chinese cooks to create a South Sea Cantonese hybrid cuisine that was way beyond the chop Suey and chow mein found on the menus of most Chinese restaurants of the day. Dishes were made with then uncommon ingredients like water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, lychee nuts, and Worcester sauce imported from China. After feasting on Mandarin  duck, diners might order a Snow cake covered with pieces of pineapple and dried kumquats.

The owners succeeded in business but failed in the relationship. They divorced in 1940 but continue to work together opening beachcomber restaurants in Palm Springs and Chicago.

In 1958, Joe Drown, owner of the Bel Air Hotel, took over the company with businessman David Price and open more beachcomber restaurants including locations like Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, and Waikiki. A decade later, J Ronald Getty, son of J Paul Getty, but the chain. In 1987, the original beachcomber was demolished. Although all the restaurants eventually faded out of style, the Hollywood location was considered to be the most favored and popular.

Vintage photos of the Hollywood Don the beachcombers restaurant can be viewed on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

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