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Samoa House, Encino, CA (restaurant)

Pages: 1 9 replies

Name:Samoa House
Street:15903 Ventura Blvd


It never ceases to amaze me when an old, never-before documented Tiki place pops up in the Tiki rich Southern California area.

I had picked up this matchbook a while back from the Samoa House restaurant located on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, CA.

I didn't think too much of it until I saw 10 of these old deadstock three-face bucket mugs for sale on ebay. Tried to win them but higher bidders prevailed.

The listing description states:

Found in storage after 37 years. I bought them from Tex at Samoa House Restaurant on Ventura Blvd in Encino (part of Los Angeles) when it closed in 1974. Made in Japan.

I did some research on-line and found more info"

Howard Lee was a friend of my father, well educated in China as a monk
and an intellectual. He spoke English fluently and well versed in business etc. He often traveled w/Dad on business. Later he partnered w/a white friend to open a highly successful little restaurant called Samoa House.( chinese smoked ribs served hawaiian style). It did so well, they then opened a huge new place to accommodate the crowd.

I always remember Samoa House because I went with Howard and my father to analyze other Hawaiian eateries such as Kelbos in Culver City. Samoa house was Chinese BBQ ribs and they were excellent!

Art Rony , a columnist in the LA times wrote before the Samoa house restaurant opened :
"I don't know how mixed up things can get . But this'll do. Partners in the new Samoa House on Ventura Blvd. are a guy named Tex Loving who's spent most of his life in Hong Kong and Howard Lee , a Chinese Boy from Alpine , Texas ..."

Apparantly the Encino restaurant was the second expanded location that became a popular Jazz club.


Another great little peice of history DC. Amazing how much you got. Keep it coming. Really enjoy reading the articles and such you post. :D

Good work DC. Rare that a vintage mug is discovered with original packaging. I'm looking forward to a discovery of pics or postcards on this temple.

Thanks guys. There was another deadstock set of 6 peanut mugs that the same seller had on ebay. He indicated that he found them in his storage locker after 37 years.

On the lookout for a postcard!


I'm waiting on a response from a fellow who used to hang out and drink at the Samoa House in both locations, Van Nuys Blvd. and Ventura Blvd. This is of great interest to me as it is confirmed, this fellows favorite head bartender from the Samoa House when on Van Nuys Blvd. quit his job as it seems, the timing was right. Samoa House was headed to a new build in 1958 (as mentioned in post above) as confirmed by this fellow. The Bartender was Ed Libby. Ed and his brother Ace moved forward and opened their own paradise, a place to call their own they named it the Tonga Hut.
12808 Victory Blvd. North Hollywood Ca.
Something tells me they just might have served exotic cocktails in drinking vessels after all.

So Ed & Ace Libby didn't come from nowhere on the coat tails of tiki popularity as once thought , they were the real deal, bona fife bartenders. My new friend tells me he drank beer & Navy Rums at the TH. They served tiki drinks, and he remembers hearing Elvis Heartbreak Hotel on the jukebox at Samoa House for the first time ever & Elvis at the TH. He will keep in touch, he is a older gentleman and he is remembering things here & there. Stay tuned!


I remembered finding a couple of old Ventura Blvd. restaurant ashtrays a few years back and recently found the box I packed them away in, the Samoa House being one and Bora Bora the other. Thought I'd photograph both on a light box and here's the Samoa House.

[ Edited by: a frame 2016-04-10 21:20 ]


The architect for Samoa House (Encino) was John Goodrich Hutchison (b. 1914) according to the 1962 AIA directory.

I’d like to learn more on the Samoa House In Encino Ca. as well as it’s first location in Van Nuys . According to this newer blog post the Samoa House was originally on Van Nuys Bl. before it was on Ventura as a bigger restaurant/bar in 1958. Makes sense to what I was told that employees Ed and Ace left and built the Tonga Hut. Still looking oking for more information. This subject came up again on Facebook group Kids of the San Fernando Valley things we loved. The blog: http://juejoeclan.blogspot.com/2011/09/howard-lee.html?m=1

No information found on Critiki.

[ Edited by: Hiphipahula 2018-12-28 23:35 ]


Kelly newspapers.com doesn't have much more about Samoa House besides what dustycajun has already posted but it does have a bad photo of it at the new, 1958 location.

Pages: 1 9 replies