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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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Name:Mauna Kea
Type:restaurant
Street:1600 Pacific Coast Highway
City:Seal Beach
State:CA
Zip:90740
country:USA
Phone:430-7961
Status:defunct

Description:
This one has been a real stumper for me. I could not find any information about this place.

It was just up the road from Sam's Seafood, and it had a Hawaiian floor show and served exotic rum drinks at The Shell Bar.

I found a little information about Eddie Bush. Apparently he was one hell of a uke player, and he passed away about seven years ago.

I found this matchbook yesterday. When I got home, I was looking inside to find more information about the place, and I found a second matchbook.

I'd love to see some more ephemera from the Mauna Kea.

AF

Nice matchbook. Like Kate, I did tried to do some digging after finding this phone book ad a year ago at the LB public Library and couldn't find a thing. Went to the Seal Beach city hall and historical society...nothing. Not giving up yet! As I remember, the ad only appeared one phone book around 1963.

The Mauna Kea lasted less than a year, which is why the souvenirs and ephemera are so hard to find.

It opened March 1st, 1963 in one of the large dining rooms of the closed Dovalis 101 Ranch House restaurant:

Here is a newspaper article about the Mauna Kea at the end of its first month:

The restaurant was supposed to be completely Polynesian by May 1963, but this review from May 22 says that the restaurant is still only partially converted:

By January 1964 the Mauna Kea was no more. This article about Eddie Bush from Jan 2, 1964 talks about him managing the Mauna Kea and how it "did not survive". By then he had already moved on to performing at Mr C's Outrigger a little further up PCH.

Was Long Beach already too saturated with Poly-Pop restaurants to handle another? Or did the previous 101 Ranch House restaurant have too strong a following? This article from Jan 9th celebrates the reopening of the 101 Ranch House under new management:

But for that short, heady period of 1963, the Long Beach/Seal Beach area probably hosted the most Poly-Pop joints that it has ever seen. The mind reels thinking of the tiki bar crawls you could have had back then. In 1963 you could have cruised to no less than five Tiki power places on one small stretch of Pacific Coast Highway itself, starting at the huge Polynesian palace of Sam's Sea Food in Surfside at 16278 PCH:

Then up to Seal Beach and the Mauna Kea at 1600 E PCH:

Then on to Java Lanes and the East Indies Room at 3800 E PCH with it's amazing Googie A-Frame:

Then The Hawaiian at 4645 E PCH:

And finally, ending the evening at your hotel room at The Outrigger Inn, adjacent to Mr. C's - A sprawling Tiki paradise of its own - Mr C's had restaurants with various themes in different rooms, and the Outrigger Inn had gardens with Milan Guanko tikis and waterfalls. (5303 E. PCH):

If you wanted to stray off the Pacific Coast highway, you had the incredible tiki temple of the The Reef over on Pier A of Long Beach harbor, and from there it was only a short drive over the Vincent St Thomas bridge to the Ports O' Call restaurant in San Pedro.

If you can believe it, all of the places mentioned above were large enough to have nightly Hawaiian entertainment and dancing. Included in that list is Don May's Leilani over on 2nd street. It had been around longer than the rest but it was still a happening night spot in 1963 with live entertainment every night as well.

Then there were the smaller tiki-themed restaurants and bars of Long Beach like the Samoa, the Pago Pago, and other places still waiting to be re-discovered:

I'd give anything for the chance to go back in time and overdose on tiki in Long Beach in the mid-1960s.


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-09-17 16:10 ]

Just looked up Mr C's on google maps, and it appears that the building at that address is DEFINITELY a former Polynesian style longhouse with an A Frame entrance....didn't know about this place, but it sure looks like the building there is the one pictured in the newspaper ad. The hotel next door shows signs of a former Poly Pop past, but more subtle.

Great Post, SABU.

Yep, the remains of the building are still there, but the hotel is now a Guest House International and the Polynesian atmosphere is gone.

Here are a couple of old threads on Mr. C's. The second had a lot of cool photos back in the day, but the links are mostly dead now:

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=32578&forum=2

http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=3196&forum=1


[ Edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-09-17 00:21 ]

Whoa! Excellent reasearch as usual, Sabu! Love that ad for Mr.C's.
It really seems 1963 was the year it all peaked, but then was weakened by oversaturation and began falling out of favor...

funny 1963 was the Peak for surf too,
coincidence?
:wink:
then the Beatles Hit
and it was all down hill from there.

Damn Limeys,
:o

Jeff(btd)

Alot of us Tiki Peeps were born in 63'...

Me, Holden, Bosko, Joe Banks, Soccer Tiki, 3 other guys in my band, that's just off the top of my head.
63' was a good year, but yea, once the beatles showed up, surf and Exotica got into a big wipeout.

T

Hey! I was born in '63 too

As much as I love surf and the pre-Beatle era - I Thank God for the Beatles...for a few glorious years they influenced hundreds of thousands of kids to be garage rockers. Garage to me has been and will forever be where the spirit of rock and roll lives and thrives.

Me too...I love the Beatles, but they DID incite the downfall of tiki.

Cool post, great info Sabu and what a beautiful matchbook Kate, it is amazing how much information is still out there waiting to be discovered. I would add Noels to the list (although it may not have been open in 63?), it was just across the street from Sam’s, I have no idea if it went by another name at one time but it was thick with Tiki décor right before it closed. I met the manager in the 90’s when I was trying to sell my very first carvings and he informed me they were (soon) going to change the “theme” and it would all be up for grabs. The thought that I could finally save the contents of one of these palaces excited this young urban archeologist like you wouldn’t believe. But later he never took my phone calls, by the next time I went by it was gutted only the outside Tikis remained. This has happened enough times to be a phenomena, I would talk to someone in “charge” of a business about saving the “Tikis” (artifacts) they would sound interested and I’d never hear from them again. Whether I come off as a lunatic wanting their junk or gave them the impression it was worth a pile of gold I’ll never know. Sitting here thinking about all the establishments that closed down during the period soon afterwards is making me feel very old and realizing just how naïve we were back then. I think Kelbos went soon after, all the remodeling on Shelter Island, then the Hanalei sign a few years later the whole interior exterior of the Islands was gutted. It is depressing to think that at one time I navigated between San Diego and Los Angeles by these landmarks, stop in once or twice a year and slowly they all vanished.

Bosko

AF

Great info on the Mauna Kea and SB to LB tour Sabu, it's like reading the paper this afternoon and deciding which spot to hit tonight!

R

Aloha Tiki Members,
I came across this sight by accident but I wanted to comment on a topic, and ask a question if possible.
I know this topic was started over a year ago but since I was born and raised in Long Beach, and grew up going to most all of the restaurants/Nightclubs I wanted to clarify that the Eddie Bush you had mentioned is not the Ukalele player. The Eddie Bush that played throughout Southern California was a Steel Guitar player. That sea shell matchbook was signed by my father. I'm Eddie Bush's daughter. I graduated from LB Wilson in 1981.

So here's my question. Is the Holden that is referred to in this thread "Holden W."? Did he graduate
from LB Wilson?

Thanks for all the great memories!

On 2011-01-18 11:16, rabbett wrote:
Aloha Tiki Members,
I came across this sight by accident but I wanted to comment on a topic, and ask a question if possible.
I know this topic was started over a year ago but since I was born and raised in Long Beach, and grew up going to most all of the restaurants/Nightclubs I wanted to clarify that the Eddie Bush you had mentioned is not the Ukalele player. The Eddie Bush that played throughout Southern California was a Steel Guitar player. That sea shell matchbook was signed by my father. I'm Eddie Bush's daughter. I graduated from LB Wilson in 1981.

So here's my question. Is the Holden that is referred to in this thread "Holden W."? Did he graduate
from LB Wilson?

Thanks for all the great memories!

Hi Rene,
Well... it's been a while! I'm used to getting things like this through Facebook so getting this through Tiki Central is a nice (& unusual) surprise! That's so cool that your dad was Eddie Bush. Interesting too is that his tenure at the Mauna Kea is or likely was the same year that you (& I) were born!

It was indeed in great part that growing up in Long Beach was the starting point Rene for my starting Tiki Farm. As you recall, Long Beach was one of the mainland hubs of the googy Hawaiiana-inspired architecture... Java Lanes, Mr. C's, all of the old apartment buildings down around Belmont Heights & Outer Belmont Heights... the inland "Millikan" parts of town had a lot of the old strip malls that were done up with Polynesian roof lines... older homes down on the peninsula... really mostly though were the streets of 3rd & 4th street where there was a mix of homes & apartment buildings. Do you remember those areas? Many were adorned with Tikis out front and then within the courtyards, lots of lush tropical growth, more Tikis and design "hits" that were tropical (stairwell adornments, tapa carved support beams, tropical outdoor light fixtures, etc.)

You should stick around TC Rene and gleen some of what is the modern day resurgent Tiki scene that is in part, thanks to icons like your dad.

I'd be happy to talk to you anytime and if you find TC (nickname for Tiki Central) of interest, it'd be my pleasure to bring you to one of the MANY So Cal Tiki events. The biggest one is Tiki Oasis which happens this August in San Diego. It's attended by 1000's of guests but the bummer is...

This year, it's the same weekend as our 30-year anniversary!?!

All the best - take care and reach out if you'd like!

Holden

Here's an interesting write-up on Rene's father...

EDDIE BUSH
Born circa 1937, died circa 1992.

Eddie Bush was Carl Mann's guitarist. Few guitar players have a sound as instantly recognizable as Eddie's. Bush was a supremely gifted guitar player, who sadly had a permanent wanderlust. This made him into a hobo wandering around the USA, playing wherever he could for money to eat and a bed for the night.

Eddie was five years older than Carl and before their first meeting in 1957, Bush had already been in the service in Hawaii and had played as a staff guitarist on the Louisiana Hayride. Bush and Mann were brought together by Jimmie Martin, owner of the small Jaxon label in Jackson, Tennessee. Carl already had his own band, the Kool Kats, when he auditioned for Martin in early 1957, at the ripe old age of 14. Jimmie agreed to cut a single with Carl, but he decided that he wanted to use Eddie Bush, Junior Vestal and himself as backing musicians instead of the Kool Kats, to achieve a more professional sound. The single, "Gonna Rock And Roll Tonight"/"Rockin' Love" was released in April 1957 on Jaxon 502. Carl paid all the session expenses himself and got 350 copies. So the record never stood a chance. Eddie also cut his own (vocal) single for Jaxon, "I'm Confused About You"/"Little Darlin'" (Jaxon 503), but like Carl's record, this one never got much further than the Jackson city limits. Both sides are pure country (nothing to write home about) and are available on the Stomper Time CD mentioned at the bottom of this piece.

It didn't take Carl Mann long to realize that he was heading nowhere on Jaxon. Carl formed a new combo with himself on vocals and piano, Eddie on guitar, Robert Oatsvall on bass and Tony Moore on drums. The next step for Carl and his new band was to approach Sun Records. Eddie and Carl kept going to the Sun studio with their demo tapes, but they never got anywhere until they hooked up with W.S. Holland, who would become the drummer in Carl's band. It was Cecil Scaife, Sun's promotion manager, who took the initiative to sign Mann. Though "Mona Lisa" was recorded in October 1958, it was not released until six months later, after it became clear to Sam Phillips that MGM was going to put out a version by Conway Twitty (which used the same arrangement). Carl's version reached # 25 on the Billboard charts. The follow-up, recorded in August 1959, was another revival of a Nat King Cole hit, "Pretend", which went to # 57. Both these hits bear the stamp of Eddie Bush's unusual guitar style. Many Sun sessions would follow, always with Eddie on guitar, but at the age of 17, Carl's career already began its downward slide. Unable to handle the rigours of heavy touring, he soon become an alcoholic. Unfortunately, the same fate befell Eddie Bush.

But in 1960, Carl continued to sell records in respectable quantities and in that year he even had an LP released ("Like Mann", Phillips International PLP 60). Four of the twelve tracks on that (excellent) album were written by Eddie : "Baby I Don't Care" (which Eddie also recorded himself later that year, Phillips International 3558), "I'm Bluer Than Anyone Else Could Be","Island Of Love" and "Walkin' And Thinkin'" (also recorded by Eddie, but shelved until the appearance of Carl's Bear Family box-set in 1993). Bush shows himself to be a pretty good songwriter with these songs. With Carl, he also wrote "Crazy Fool","Ain't You Got No Lovin' For Me","It Really Doesn't Matter Now" and "If I Could Change You" (in this last case, Eddie sold his share to guitarist Kelso Herston). All pleasant, very melodic songs.

At some point there was a conflict between Eddie and Sam Phillips, of which the details are fuzzy. Eddie appears to have gone back to the Louisiana Hayride for a while to play with Carl Belew, but in the end he did return to Sun. As a singer, his vocal style was strongly influenced by Carl Mann's. Eddie also left a fairly large legacy of instrumentals at Sun, but his best work is in support of Carl.

After Carl left Sun in 1962, Eddie started drifting. The pair was reunited after Carl's return to civilian life after a spell in the US Army. Mann was signed by Monument Records in 1966. Eddie plays guitar on the A-side of Carl's sole Monument single, "Serenade Of the Bells" (Monument 974) and wrote the B-side, "Down To My Last I Forgive You". Every few years, Eddie would appear for a short while back in Jackson, but, despite Carl's best efforts, he could not persuade Bush to settle back in the area and, shortly after. Bush would leave again. After a very long period of time, during which Eddie did not return to Jackson, Carl finally found out that Eddie had died near Oklahoma City in the early 1990's. According to Carl he is buried in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. He will be remembered as one of the most original guitar players of the rock n roll era.

Acknowledgements : - Colin Escott and Hank Davis, Book accompanying the 4-CD Bear Family box-set "Carl Mann : Mona Lisa" (BCD 15713), released in 1993.

  • Dave Travis, Liner notes for the CD "Hot Rockin' Music From Tennessee : The Jaxon Recording Company Story" (Stomper Time STCD 20). Released in 2005.

Dik

On 2010-09-17 12:03, tikiyaki wrote:
Alot of us Tiki Peeps were born in 63'...

Me, Holden, Bosko, Joe Banks, Soccer Tiki, 3 other guys in my band, that's just off the top of my head.
63' was a good year, but yea, once the beatles showed up, surf and Exotica got into a big wipeout.

Okay, while I'm still in this old thread I wanted to bring up something. A few years back, I'm hanging out with Jim & Bosko at Nick's Tiki Mag gig at the Bali Hai. We were talking about music - specifically old bands. We started naming off all of these relatively obscure bands that we all liked in years past, bands that if I mention them to 95% of the people I know, they've never heard of them. We were rollin' off a bunch of 'em to the point that the irony of our all knowing these same obscure bands kinda boggled my mind. I looked at Jim and said "what year were you born" - 63 he replied then I looked at Bosko and asked the same question - 63 he said. Then they asked me - 63 I said.

I feel older now than I did about a half hour ago.
Holden

Apologies for dredging up an old topic, but this thread (and in particular Sabu's post about his fantasy 1963 PCH Tiki Pub Crawl: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=33196&forum=2&vpost=554307) really inspired me to dig a little further into those "smaller tiki-themed restaurants and bars of Long Beach like the Samoa, the Pago Pago, and other places still waiting to be re-discovered".

The smaller places he mentioned included specific references to the Samoa (which I did a little digging on and posted about here: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=52739&forum=2), and the Pago Pago (which seems to have been part of a larger chain bigbro discussed here: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=32034&forum=2, although the Long Beach location doesn't seem to have its own thread yet), as well as images of ads for Jakamos (which dustycajun posted about here: http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=41909&forum=2) and an ad for a restaurant called Keona (AKA Keona Club AKA Keona's). Keona does not appear either on Critiki or in Tiki Road Trip.

Interestingly, my research into Keona suggests that, despite the name (which seems to be Hawaiian for something like "the louse/mite"?), it may not have actually been a Poly-pop/tiki place after all.

According to this article about the current occupant of the space from The Grunion Gazette dated June 21, 2013, Keona operated from 1944 to 1990 - a fairly impressive run. http://www.gazettes.com/dining/profiles_in_dining/dining-profile-roxanne-s-expanding-into-speakeasy/article_426ff0b6-d916-11e2-ae66-0019bb2963f4.html. It was located at 1115 East Wardlow Road and owned by Chuck and Peggy Heckel. According to his obituary in the March 19, 1997, Independent, Chuck passed away in 1997:

I looked at a number of reviews and ads spanning several decades, and can't find any reference to any Polynesia/Exotica influence in décor, cuisine, cocktails, or otherwise.

(Short reference from March 1, 1963, Independent:)

(Ad from March 15, 1963, Independent:)

(Ad from February 28, 1964, Independent:)

(Ad from April 29, 1966, Independent:)

(Review from March 28, 1969, Independent:)

(Ad from September 17, 1970, Independent:)

(Short Review from June 29, 1972, Independent:)

(Review from April 26, 1974, Independent:)

(Review from December 28, 1975, Independent:)


(Ad from January 24, 1986, Independent:)

Their primary draws seem to have been menu items, including the opportunity to cook your own steaks...

...and a large, reasonably priced shrimp cocktail.

When their cocktail program was referenced at all, the only drinks mentioned seem to have been fairly standard daiquiris and margaritas (see April 26, 1974 review above).

There seems to be little ephemera out there, but their matchbooks are relatively easy to come by (in pink and green, in addition to this lavender). Note the lack of any Polynesian/tiki influence:

So unless others have evidence to the contrary, time-traveling Tiki fans visiting 1963 for Sabu's pub crawl can probably skip Keona.

The location is currently Roxanne's:

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