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Name:The Reef
Type:restaurant
Street:880 S Harbor Scenic Dr
City:Long Beach
State:CA
Zip:90802
country:USA
Phone:(562) 435-8013
Status:operational

Description:
Built in the late 50s. Burned down in the 70s and rebuilt more in an old-English style. Not many South-Sea touches remain.

Tangaroa posted some interesting information about The Reef in this thread from 2003, when he interviewed George Millay, who was one of the owners of the The Reef, part of a chain of tiki restaurants in California which included the Castaway, the Ports O'Call, and the Pieces of Eight:
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=6060&forum=1

I recently picked up this Winter 1958 issue of "Harbor Highlights", published by the Board of harbor Commissioners of the Port of Long Beach.

In it there is this artist's rendering of the proposed design of The Reef restaurant:

The David Tallichet mentioned in the article passed away in 2007. This Los Angeles Times obituary is a fascinating read:

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/11/local/me-tallichet11

This quote in particular stands out:

*" The means to build his private air force came from Specialty Restaurants Corp., a destination-restaurant business he established with Sea World founder George Millay. Their first location, the Polynesian-themed Reef in Long Beach, opened in 1958 and more than 100 other restaurants across the U.S. followed.

Now chaired by Tallichet's son John, the Anaheim-based company operates 25 restaurants in nine states, including the Odyssey in Granada Hills and the Castaway in Burbank. The company also built Ports O'Call Village in San Pedro."*

Here's the matchbook from The Reef :down:

The menu cover :down:

And the placemat :down:

In Tangaroa's interview, George Millay remembers the restaurant opening in August, 1958. The Tallichet obituary states the same. However the "Harbor Highlights" blurb above shows that the restaurant was only proposed in the Winter of 1958. So I'm assuming the date on the magazine of "Winter 1958" actually means Winter 57/58, and that the magazine was probably published in January '58 (still Winter) and that the proposal for the restaurant was put forth in November 1957.

It burned down at least once in the 70s I believe, (please correct me if I've got the era wrong), and the rebuilt structure has little to no Polynesian ambiance left. It does however, have beautiful views of Long Beach harbor and the Queen Mary, and is a fine restaurant in its own right.

If anyone has any photos of the way the restaurant actually looked in the 60s, please post them. I don't think I've ever seen any.

Thanks,

Sabu


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2009-04-27 00:50 ]

Nice post Sabu, always good to see one of those hard to find place mats.

I was posting some stuff on the Royal Tahitian a while back and Sven (while overseas) pointed out that the carver of the tiki used at The Reef also did one of the Tikis for the Royal Tahitian.

On 2008-12-21 12:19, Dustycajun wrote:
Bigbro,

Your memory is still working while overseas. The picture of the turned head Tiki and the torches was in the BOT. Here is the pic. I didn't realize that Charley Rosenkrantz also did the Tikis at The Reef Restaurant. I've got a matchbook from that place lying around somewhere.

Here is the matchbook from The Reef in Long Beach with the Tiki carved by Charley Rosenkrantz. Old Chucky certainly had a unique style.

DC

Woops, I almost missed this post. That Reef place mat is ace, Sabu! It clearly proves that there were various carvers involved with the Reef, lookey 'ere:

This definitely is the Tiki Andres Bumatay was carving when this article (unfortunately folded) was published, (which is the missing link to my Bumatay page in the BOT)

Now: Charles Phoenix has a slide from the Reef with some folks posing with a Tiki that looks Rosenkrantz-style, but I don't have it, just this:

This also reminded me that I own a very similar strange Bumatay-style ceramic statue, collected in the mid-90s:

It was obviously intended to be a lamp...

...but never made into one. Wonder why!?

Great post Sabu! I love the artists rendition of the restaurant. It's hard to believe it ever looked that cool!

Here's another picture of the menu that uses the tiki from the matchbook in the margin (was this their "signature" tiki?):

Now chaired by Tallichet's son John, the Anaheim-based company operates 25 restaurants in nine states, including the Odyssey in Granada Hills and the Castaway in Burbank. The company also built Ports O'Call Village in San Pedro."

For sure and they were most likely the owners of the Port's O' Call restaurant at some point too. The restaurant was there before the village was built around it. Here's a close up of a menu from Port's O' Call in 'Pedro that invites guests to other restaurants in the area, including "Pieces of Eight" which looks like it may have been a nautical themed restaurant from its menu. I got more info about Port's O' Call (in 'Pedro) coming up soon.



Polynesiac - putting the "F" back in "ART"

[ Edited by: Polynesiac 2009-04-29 10:14 ]

[ Edited by: Polynesiac 2009-04-29 10:16 ]

The restaurant group mentioned above still exists as Specialty Restaurants.
It includes the former Pieces of Eight location now De-Pirated as Shanghai Red’s. The group also includes Bigbrotiki fave The Proud Bird. I went to Shanghai Red’s last Saturday with Hanford and Tikitastic. It was cool, it seems like Brunch Central now but we had dinner in the bar, the food was good and the drinks were okay. The entrance is great! A long covered bridge over a Koi pond with torches on the sides and rain coming down over the sides of the bridge. Look I took a crappy picture ~

Anyway back to The Reef!

Yup, that is pretty much the crappiest picture of any location I have ever seen. :D It does show the rain, though!
And it's good to hear Pieces of Eight is still around, I didn't know. The song is one of my favorite Paul Page tunes.

And with that, back to the Reef:

This has little to do with the subject, Sven your ceramic "lamp" may not be a lamp at all but rather just a big sculpture. I don't know a lot about ceramics but as I understand it they would put a hole in pieces that weren't open (like a mug) so they wouldn't blow up during firing.
Next many years ago I met a guy who picked up two huge Milan Guanko carved support posts (much like the old Kona Kai pieces he did) from a place in Long Beach and he said they had at least another 25 that he left behind. Maybe they were in the old Reef? Maybe not?

Bosko

Thanks everyone for their contributions - It's gratifying to flesh out the story of this restaurant chain and the carvers who worked on the Reef.

Bigbro - That tiki on the placemat looked so bizarre that I felt it had to be real - I doubted a placemat artist would have made that up. It's great to connect it to the Bumatay tiki in that newspaper article.

Interesting matchbook I found. It says: Kai Loa at "The Reef" Port o' Long Beach.

It's sort of handmade? The tapa is a separate piece of paper folded over a blank matchbook. (I took a photo with it pulled apart so you could see). The name is actually a sticker placed on top of the paper. The side corners of the sticker were cut off so they wouldn't hang over the edge.

[ Edited by: Tiki Shaker 2009-12-10 15:43 ]

I found this image of the Reef 1950's era menu. This cover shows a different color than the one previously posted by Sabu and it has the phone number printed on it.

I also found this other inside image of the Reef 1950's era menu that has two cards featuring the specials stapled to it. The menu is identical to the one previously posted by Polynesiac except for the cards on his image have been flipped up.

Hi folks, I work for the Port of Long Beach, which is where The Reef is located, and we're celebrating our Centennial, so I've been digging through our archives doing features on various things around the Port. I cribbed a little info from here (and one of the menu pictures, too, hope you don't mind). I love tiki stuff myself, too, so I'm very glad to have found this site.

I found quite a few images of The Reef (unfortunately, none of the full building interior as it originally existed) and thought you all might enjoy seeing them. I'll put a couple here, and the rest you can see if you want to at our blog post or our photo gallery.

The patio, 1964:

The entrance, 1965:

Chris

Nice, Chris. Man, how about that rendering in image number 3, WHO has that now!?

So Specialty Restaurants didn't keep ANY of their old stuff?

http://www.specialtyrestaurants.com/src/restaurants.aspx#california

They owned several Polynesian palaces - The Pieces of Eight - The Ports o' Call - The Castaways

....and I posted about the Proud Bird here:

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=28887&forum=2

I think Oceanic Arts has a giant postcard that shows exteriors of all of them - but the Reef is always obscured by lotsa foliage.

Chris,

Thanks for posting the photos and the link. Great to finally see what the outside of the restaurant building looked like in a photo.

I have another old menu from The Reef that has more of an Art-Deco cover.

The menu items

The back of the menu with the drinks and pupus.

Bigbro,

Here is a close up of the locations listed on this menu.

I never knew they had so MANY! I had never even heard of the Proud Bird before, thanks for posting that link. From this menu there were a total of 8 locations in the LA basin - cool company.

DC

On 2011-04-20 17:22, bigbrotiki wrote:
Nice, Chris. Man, how about that rendering in image number 3, WHO has that now!?

I don't know -- I wish we did! I haven't been over to the Reef in quite a while, so I'm not sure how much historical stuff they have over there; my memory is not much, probably because of the fire. If I find anything more I'll post it here.
Chris

On 2011-04-20 17:22, bigbrotiki wrote:

I think Oceanic Arts has a giant postcard that shows exteriors of all of them - but the Reef is always obscured by lotsa foliage.

This rings a bell... I grabbed some images of two large postcards many years ago and was not sure where they were from. They have to be from the various Specialty Group restaurants that included The Reef, Ports of Call, Pieces of Eight, etc. The A-frame in the second one is a dead ringer for the picture that Chris Berry posted.

They were numbered and the back of the card had descriptions of each scene.

It would be nice to see some better scans of these two beauties from the OA archives.

DC

It's been a good week for paper, just got another super hard to find postcard mailer with some great photos of The Reef in Long Beach. It is a double oversized postcard that also features the Ports o Call restaurant in San Pedro.

Here is the back of the card that provides a numbered description of each photo so you can keep score!

The close ups of The Reef card.

First up, an exterior shot of the entrance.

Close up of the Tiki.

Next, the Tiki Lounge (I don't see any Tikis though?)

The Tonga Room (where have I heard that name before?)

The Polynesian Luau area that accommodates 1,500 people?

And views of the SS Princes paddle wheeler and the Long Beach skyline.

Here is a nice rendering of the building from the back of the card.

It looks like they may actually have had the row boat and anchor in the ground out front as shown on the menus.

A map showing both The Reef and the Ports o Call.

And finally the description on the back of the card.

I posted the other part of the card in the Ports o Call thread.
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=35858&forum=2&start=15&hilite=ports o call

What a beauty!

DC

On 2009-04-28 23:29, bigbrotiki wrote:
It clearly proves that there were various carvers involved with the Reef, lookey 'ere:

This definitely is the Tiki Andres Bumatay was carving when this article (unfortunately folded) was published, (which is the missing link to my Bumatay page in the BOT)

The postcard I just got just missed showing the Bumatay Tiki which was obscured by the damned ship photo. You can see the top of the Tiki. Now who has that photo?

DC

Dang! You're right! Classic armchair archeology! The crossed palms are there, too! I bet they had their own story, also....

Got this matchbook showing nice use of rope lettering font from The Reef.

DC

K
kiara posted on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 9:15 PM

Here's an old snapshot taken in front of the Reef. Nice shot of their wonderful tiki.

Today's find

A few news stories from The Reef.

The entertainment for a Tamaaraa.

And an upcoming Luau.

DC

Some news ads with nice graphics from the Reef.

The Tikis:

The building

Some art concepts...

Japanese phase

And, the Specialty Restaurants line-ups

DC

C

A distant aerial photo from a POLB brochure which someone picked up in 1994.

Some nice early photos of The Reef.

This comparison shows how the landscaping matured.

DC

Those early shots are great DC!

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