Friday, April 1, 2011

Fond memories of The Reef's early days

View from The Reef's patio, 1964, includes the Cyclone Racer and Municipal Auditorium.
Those drinks don't look bad either.
A reader sent in these reminiscences about the Reef Restaurant, which opened on what was then Pier A in August 1958. The Polynesian-themed restaurant was the brainchild of LA-area restaurateur David Tallichet and George Millay, who went on to create Sea World. The restaurant burned in the mid-'70s but was then rebuilt and is still in operation today.

Here's what one of our readers had to say about his time working at The Reef:

"My first job in California was at the wonderful 'Reef Restaurant' -- one of the first destination restaurants in those days. The place was so busy that on Friday and Saturday nights there was always a two-hour wait to get in. The decor was island and we looked more like an island than if you were there.

"I worked there as a waiter, head waiter and asst. manager. The manager in those days was Ralph Fulton and I will say he was the best. He knew everybody in town and then some.

"People drove a hundred miles to have dinner and see the view of Long Beach all the way down the coast to Newport. I moved on but will never forget my time in the Port of Long Beach."
-- Philip Compton

Photos of the original Reef are practically non-existent in the Port's archives and online as well; you can see some more pictures in our photo gallery, but we'd love to see and share some more images, particularly of the building's interior -- please pass them along if you have any.

You can find some more information and menus from the Reef's early days at the Tiki Central site.

Or find out more about the Reef Restaurant today.

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