Huntington Beach Then & Now: A Brief History Of The Fisherman

Huntington Beach Then & Now: A Brief History Of The Fisherman

THEN // For today's Then & Now, I'd like to cite a marvelously informative column by my friend City Historian Jerry Person to go along with this rare image of the short-lived restaurant The Fisherman.

"As the years go by, few people remember that there was a restaurant in the old Pavalon building prior to Maxwell's, and fewer can remember its name. This week we will be looking at the short history of The Fisherman that preceded Maxwell's as Huntington Beach's premier seafood eatery.

Howard A. Lutz and Paul T. Renius, who held the lease on the Pavalon, spent over $200,000 to transform the city's ballroom into a chic seafood restaurant. These two gentlemen hired Mike and Georgia Liberty as the cafe's managers. The Libertys were experienced caterers, and the owners felt that their experience was just the thing they needed for their new restaurant. To kick off their enterprise, Lutz and Renius held a three-day VIP open house beginning on Monday night, May 13, 1968. They held a buffet starting at 5 p.m., and on hand for the gala event were Huntington Beach Mayor Al Coen and his wife, City Council members and their families, the city department heads and families, and the Orange County Supervisors.

The next two evenings (Tuesday and Wednesday) were by invitation only and limited to business executives, industrial leaders, and professional people. Guess that leaves me out of the VIP party! On the inside, the decor colors for each of the three sections (bar, banquet hall, and dining room) were tastefully done in gold, black, and walnut. Diners could enjoy watching the surf from the balcony with its glass panels. The Fisherman billed itself as "the South Coast's finest seafood restaurant overlooking the ocean." In its first Easter on April 6, 1969, you could have enjoyed a complete ham dinner for only $3.75. What a deal compared to today's prices! Over the years many talented people performed in its Barnacle Lounge, including the Inn Sound with Rosemary and Eddie Ryan in 1971. Also performing in the lounge over the years were Harry Liszt and Dorothy Harpell, Don Rayl, and the Norman Major Duo.

During the year of 1971, The Fisherman held fashion shows during their luncheon menu, and unescorted ladies could have their cocktails at half price on Tuesday's Ladies Night. By November 1976 Lutz was its manager, and on the 11th of that month sold The Fisherman and the building's lease to Charles Rivezzo.

Lutz closed its doors a day before and ended the short but interesting period of history of The Fisherman Restaurant. When those doors were again opened, the restaurant sported a new name, a name most of us remember—Maxwell's."

NOW // Today, another good restaurant marks the spot—Duke's.

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