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Leilani Hut, Belmont Shore (Long Beach), CA (restaurant)

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Name:Leilani Hut
Street:5236 E. 2nd Street
City:Belmont Shore (Long Beach)

I have two matchbooks from the Leilani Hut which was located in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach.

The older little matchbook looks like it was from before Don May bought the place and added his name as shown on the second matchbook.

The Don May matchbook also advertises the Gay 90 restaurant where one could buy pitcher beer and participate in Community Singing. Sounds like fun!

Of course Mimi has a menu from this place on her website.

Yo Ho Ho indeed!


The Leilani Hut girl is my new favorite matchbook. Here are a couple of napkins from the collection of Julie Wilson.

Here's a street view of the address.

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-06-12 16:06 ]


Thanks for posting those great napkins. Here is the other part of the Gay 90's matchbook. I'm thinking that Don May had some fun in the restaurant buiz.


That looks way more fun than Legends!


Another nice menu from the Leilani surfaced on ebay not to long ago. Some great graphics on the cover.

Yo Ho Ho.


That's outstanding. Looks like it was done by the same artist who painted the mural in the Zamboanga in Los Angeles:

Probably a local artist then. Wonder if that painting on the menu was actually a mural in the Leilani as well. The Leilani and Zamboanga were two of the many pre-tiki South Sea supper clubs in the Los Angeles area. I've always been a little curious about the change in name from "Leilani" to "Leilani Hut". Based on that last menu, it looks like it opened circa 1942 as the "Leilani" under the ownership of Al Britt. Then maybe later the ownership changed hands to Don May and the name was changed to the Leilani Hut.

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2009-08-02 01:12 ]


Nice pick up on the Zamboanga mural art and the Leilani cover. Definitely looks like the same artist.

Here is a glass from the later Leilani Hut as seen recently on ebay.

With milk

Sans milk


I got a new matchbook from the Leilani Hut with some nice images and text.

Here is the illustration on the cover.

The other side of the cover the with the ad text - mottos to live by.

The inside of the book.


[ Edited by: dustycajun 2009-09-08 22:59 ]

Here is a matchbook from the Leilani Hut. The cover is the same as in an earlier posted photo except it is orange in color. The back cover is different than the other photos. Note that it advertises "noon buffet"

I almost feel bad posting this pic after seeing all the great photos on this thread!!


Thanks for posting that matchbook.

Saw this interesting matchbook on ebay - It looks like Don May also owned The Hawaiian Restaurant in Long Beach at one point. Man, this Tiki history thing just keeps getting more and more connected.

Here is the link to the Hawaiian thread.

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=30760&forum=2&hilite=hawaiian long beach


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2010-01-28 16:54 ]

Ah ha, saw this on ebay. Don May borrowed the posed nude logo off a matchbook from the South Pacific restaurant in Hallendale, Florida.

Tiki Transmission Tradition, Coast to Coast.


How ironic that the Leilani Hut was replaced by Legends, which is not only a sports bar but THE ORIGINAL sports bar..the type of establishment that has replaced so many Tiki temples in this country. De-evolution indeed.


An interesting add to this thread would be the strange happenings at the Leilani Hut as reported in this 1961 magazine which caught my eye.

The article might better explain the 'Gay 90's' reference in DC's matchbook or vice versa. The writer was the top restaurant critic at the local LB newspaper for many years.

Love this gentleman's staged facial expression!

A frame - Love that article! Sorry I missed it earlier.

Here's a photo of the outside of the Leilani Hut from 1967. I really like the giant letters on the roof (even though they're a bit washed out in the photo). That's a real old-school South Seas Club facade.

"Posted prominently on the front of the Leilani is a sign saying "Muncie City Limits," proof that owner Don May - who hails from there - is still an eager booster of the Indiana city. The restaurant's decor is very unindiana - tropical in the mood of Hawaii and Tahiti. Lovely Koloa, an island girl, provides songs and ukelele music on Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm.

The bar has authentic South Seas drinks. The 14-ounce Bloody Marys are from the recipe of Bloody Mary's of Tahiti. The flavor is different.

The Leilani is the oldest Cantonese restaurant in the Long Beach area. Chef Ray Lee, with the restaurant since its opening 30 years ago, suggests the Celestial Dinner (two for $11) with a long list of appetizers and a main course which includes diced breast of chicken, barbecued pork and fried rice. Teriyaki steak is delicious for $5.50. A la carte items start at $1.65. Complete menu of American dinners too, from $3.50.

Restaurant and bar are open from 2pm until the wee hours.

Don also owns the Gay 90s night club, 2508 Palm Dr., Signal Hill, which has a Blackouts '07 fun revue every Friday and Saturday night."

[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-09-17 17:37 ]


Great digging Sabu! Since 1937. Sounds like a 2nd St. institution in it's day. This is why I can't get off of the TC ride! :)

A nod to the nostalgia of Leilani in todays Press Telegram.


Never had heard about...

"the Beachcomber Tavern (5345, now The Greater L.A. Woman, at Santa Ana Avenue)"


A few more pieces of information on Leilani's

Press Telegram: Past Business in Belmont Shore

according to article, entertainers like Hilo Hattie would appear there.


Thanks for posting these.

The owner of the Leilani Hut and The Gay 90's was Don May, my grandfather.

How did you find these?

BTW the woman with the astonished face in the tour of the men's room is my mother.

[ Edited by: lohphat 2010-11-29 22:08 ]

[ Edited by: lohphat 2010-12-02 23:14 ]


Hello lohphat!
How was it found? Well, it's amazing what someone can find out about old restaurants, clubs and bars which were Polynesian themed. Especially the TIKI driven folks here on TC, who love digging up info or uncovering a mystery and then sharing it.

As a LB lifer, this hits closer to home for me, making it even more interesting. Maybe you have more Leilani Hut info you could share...please feel welcome to do so!

Aloha Lohphat, could you post a picture of your Grandfather for the record? In many cases these Tiki Central threads in "Locating Tiki" are the closest thing to official historical records that these restaurants, apartments and such will ever have.


Here's some info from my Dad, David May (Don's son and bartender at the Leilani):

Al Britt was the original owner who was a merchant seaman. He sold, or died, around 1953 or 1954. Dad bought the Leilani from the second owner, whose name escapes me, in June, 1955.

The web site mentions "The Beachcomber Tavern" 5300 something E 2nd Street. That beer bar was opened by a husband and wife who hired Perry Barrett as one of the first bartenders there. He may remember more details.

The Beachcomber is where Perry set up a pitcher of beer on the bar with a surgical tube siphoning beer to me siting on the floor because I was too drunk to stand. At 2:00 AM, Perry closed the bar and helped me mount my Schwinn Paramount. I headed South on Pacific Coast Highway. The dawn was not pretty. The Torry Pines Grade was covered with puke.

I over nighted in Coronado with a Naval Aviator's wife while he was out to sea doing touch and goes on a carrier. The next day she took me to where I could catch the Greyhound for Long Beach. I didn't have the strength or the will to face a another hundred miles ride.

The Hawaiian was owned by City Councilman Bob Crow. At times it was called "The Crow's Nest". I think that it is now an Argentine BBQ place. A frame front on the building. I think that you have been there.

So at 5305 E PCH the original A-frame building still exists -- it's now a Brazilian Steak House "Green Field".


Here you go:

My grandfather was personal friends with Jack LaLanne (yes, the fitness guru), and former CA Governor George Dukmejian who I think were at the service.

The funeral was aloha attire -- I was a pallbearer. It was a difficult time for me as I was headed overseas to live in Paris the week after he died. I said goodbye to him on his deathbed a day or two before he passed only to return in a few days to lay him to rest. I was already living in San Francisco and my life was upended already. I still really miss him. We used to have a ritual of having Sunday brunch with my dad at Johnny Rebs @ 4663 Long Beach Boulevard before I moved north to SF for work in late 1994 we were an expected party every week.

He was larger than life. He could recognize people he hadn't seen in 40 years by the back of their head.

BTW, the floating Christmas Trees lights around Belmont Shore and Naples were his idea and project to attract people to the area and brighten up the place. There's an archive piece from the LB Press Telegram documenting all this but it's in a family album someplace; I can't locate it online.

He lived on Claremont and later Santa Ana, his parents lived on Covina in a duplex before they moved in with our family when I was really young in Cypress. His brother Bud who lived down the street on Santa Ana St. just celebrated his 99th birthday last Sunday (Nov 28, 2010) and lives in Anaheim and is still pretty lucid. Bud was also a bartender at the Leilani.

[ Edited by: lohphat 2010-12-03 15:14 ]


John Morris, the owner of Legends (and Smooth's Sports Grille on Pine downtown) knew Don too.

That's really nice, thanks Lohphat.


Thanks for sharing the stories and images, hope to see more about your grandfather.



Thanks for posting info regarding your Grandfather lohphat,

Time to bump this thread with a really nice napkin I was lucky enough to purchase. It lists 24 of the tropical drinks served at the Leilani Hut, including the "Cuban Scandal".

Imagine if they tried to make one of these for the Tiki Ti!

The logo on the napkin is the same as the logo on the glass that I posted some time ago.


That is magnificent, thanks for the post, great thread.

I picked up an old matchbook from the Leilani Hut

That has the Frank Bowers mural artwork on the inside of the cover.


DC- I found one also


Found another essay in the December 1961 issue of Gent Magazine on what was seen at the time as the "bawdy" paintings in the Leilani Hut's restroom.

[ Edited by: A Frame 2013-06-05 14:25 ]

A-Frame, they used to advertise it as the Louvre in the Lav!

Lusty, Busty, and Bustling!

A few more ads with a nice graphic of the exterior.



Ich bin sprachlos DC! How about I "Louvre it"! You're on a mission, thanks for keeping Locating Tiki fresh in our minds!

Mmmmm...this presents a couple of research questions. Wondering what ever happened to all of those paintings and who was King Benny "King of the Uke"??

Bit of Long Beach trivia. Don May started the tradition of the floating Christmas trees here.

Newspaper ad

Now that's the politically incorrect Tiki lifestyle that I love!

On 2010-12-03 13:11, lohphat wrote:
BTW, the floating Christmas Trees lights around Belmont Shore and Naples were his idea and project to attract people to the area and brighten up the place. There's an archive piece from the LB Press Telegram documenting all this but it's in a family album someplace; I can't locate it online.

[ Edited by: lohphat 2010-12-03 15:14 ]

Here is article about how Don May, owner of Leilani, started the floating lighted trees around Belmont Shore...

Los Angeles Times: Long Beach floating Christmas Trees

From the Sweet Hollywaiians facebook page...

with the great "king" Bennie Nawahi!

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2016-02-17 00:15 ]


Thanks for the answer to my "Bennie" question and a very nice photo of the front of the Leilani tikicoma!

On 2016-02-17 00:10, tikicoma wrote:
From the Sweet Hollywaiians facebook page...

with the great "king" Bennie Nawahi!

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2016-02-17 00:15 ]

Broadcasting from Leilani Hut on KFOX (Long Beach based station)

Nice photo of the Leilani exterior from the Historical Society of Long Beach.

You can purchase prints on their website.

Also a little ad announcing the Grand Opening of the Leilani on July 15, 1956.


Interesting, DC. Maybe that was a grand re-opening of some sort? We've got other evidence in this thread that it originally opened in 1937: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=32715&forum=2&vpost=554496.

Maybe it was the beginning of Don May's ownership, since we also have evidence Don bought it in 1955 or so: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=32715&forum=2&vpost=567400.

[ Edited by: HotelCharlieEcho 2018-09-06 16:10 ]

On 2018-09-06 15:30, Dustycajun wrote:
Nice photo of the Leilani exterior from the Historical Society of Long Beach.

You can purchase prints on their website.



Great photo of sign lit up. There are neon tubes going to the moon to lite it up. I always thought that it was somebody throwing a coconut from the tree.

Photo from the 11/20/1967 Long Beach Independent Press Telegram with the caption-


One of Belmont Shore's unique Christmas trees is decked by four California State College at Long Beach students who took time out from beach partying to spread some Yuletide spirit. Freshmen Patrick Edie and (left to right) coeds Toni Stewart, Diane Rampman and Jeanne Altman use Christmas baubles from the Belmont Shore Business Association.

Newspaper Long Beach Independent feature from the mid 1960's including Leilani

This photo was taken inside the Leilani. Don May, owner of LeiLani, standing at end of table while his family members are seated.

Photo from Keli P. May, daughter of Don May

Great picture!

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