Royal Hawaiian and Don the Beachcomber

For those who wondered what happened to the remains of the Polynesian decor at Laguna Beach's late lamented Royal Hawaiian,... Wonder no more! I had lunch with Art Snyder, owner of Don the Beachcomber's (in Huntington Beach) today, and he told me he purchased the majority of the really nice interior decor pieces when the Royal Hawaiian closed and is starting to put them up around his own restaurant. I can't think of a more perfect home for them! The photo above shows the elaborate outrigger carving by Leroy Schmaltz that once graced the Royal Hawaiian, now hanging over the "second" bar at Don's.

By the way, Don's is hosting an International Tiki Marketplace event (sort of a big tiki swap-meet, shown in the photo below) on the first Sunday of every month, 11am to 4pm. I hadn't attended in many months and was pleasantly surprised to see that it's moved from the front of the restaurant to a larger room in the back. Lots of familiar faces there too, including Bob and Leroy of the magnificent Oceanic Arts, tiki artist Bosko (who it was a pleasure to finally meet in person), Brent Walker (a fellow tiki fan and son of South County historian Doris Walker), and many others. On the stage were musicians from the islands, and a performance by local favorite King Kukulele.

The always-gracious Art Snyder gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of Don's (formerly the old Sam's Seafood), and shared some historical tidbits about the building itself that raised more historical questions than they answered. I've been trying to research and write a solid history of Sam's Seafood for years now, and I think my job just became more difficult. I now have a number of puzzling new leads to follow. When and if they lead somewhere, I'll let you know.