Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1981 April Kelbo's Hawaiian Bar B Q

Kelbo's Hawaiian Bar -Q and Tropical Bar

Kelbo's had 2 locations in the Los Angeles area - one at 101 N. Fairfax in Hollywood, and one at 11434 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

The Go-Go's record signing celebration in April 1981 was at the Kelbo's Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles.

Cover of drink menu from Kelbo's in Los Angeles - circa 1955, from the collection of Art Aratin

Kelbo's - Kelbo's was founded by two men, Thomas Kelly and Jack Bouck, who combined the first syllable of their last names and came up with Kelbo's. One, on Fairfax across from CBS Television City, was torn down and there is an outlet of the Vitamin Shoppe at that address today.
How the site looks today (very sad)

2008 photo: tlc

Sadly, Kelbo's is no more. Many of the faux-Polynesian watering holes and Tiki bars that were once popular in the late-'50s/early-'60s (i.e. Don the Beachcomber's) have been slowly dying out across the southland. There aren't that many places left in Los Angeles where you can still get a good Zombie, Mai Tai, or Scorpion Bowl (flaming or otherwise), while sitting with tiki gods, bamboo and thatched hut booths and blow fish lights.

The building that housed the other Kelbo's is on Pico at Exposition. However today it is a tacky bar called Fantasy Island. Fantasy Island.

source:collection of Mimi Payne. arkivatropika

source: collection of Mimi Payne. arkivatropical

Kelbo's decor comprised of tiki gods, fish nets, lanterns in the shape of pineapples and other cheap tropical motif items. The decor for Kelbo's was created by the original beachcomber himself, Eli Hedley.
Eli Hedley created the aesthetic we now know today as the “beachcomber” look. With the help of his wife and daughters, found ways to use items found on the beach — glass, shells, nautical equipment — and turn them into housewares and decorations. Hedley quickly made a name for himself, and in time he was outfitting bars, restaurants and hotels with his beachcomber pieces. Hedley became a decorator to the stars. Hedley even became part of Disneyland, when Walt Disney asked him to help decorate Adventurland; for years he operated the Island Trade Store, where the Bazaar is today.
source: Humu Kno Tiki blog site

Kelbo's co-owner - Jack Bouck

source: collection of Mimi Payne. arkivatropical

collection of Mimi Payne.
About half the restaurant was a large, dimly-lit bar.

source: collection of Mimi Payne. arkivatropical

Napkin from Kelbo's - date unknown, from the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library
Much of Kelbo's advertising art was done by Bob Hale who turned up on Los Angeles, TV from time to time as a cartooning weatherman. He was also active in Seattle where he owned a popular hobby shop that bore his name. (Bob Hales' Hobby Shop- located where the Westlake Mall is now.) Bob Hale was on local news shows from San Diego to Seattle . source: pov online

Channel 5's first forecaster was Bob Hale, promoted as ``KING's cartooning weatherman.'' As he announced the temperature and barometric pressure he sketched poster-size drawings. ``Old Sol'' - his nickname for the sun - was a favorite motif on sunny days.

Hale's drawings of a fat Hawaiian guy in native garb could be seen on Kelbo's napkins and menus, and both of their building had huge murals on one side of Hale cartoons. All of them also had his little signature character of Sammy the Seagull who was always being drawn into his TV weathercast, shivering or tanning himself depending forecast. source: pov on-line

It was said that Mr. Hale once had a severe drinking problem and that he lectured and illustrated pamphlets for Alcoholics Anonymous or some such group.

First page of drink menu from Kelbo's in Los Angeles - circa 1955, from the collection of Art Aratin

Kelbo's had a menu of tropical drinks, some of which came flaming or served in a skull mug.

First page of drink menu from Kelbo's in Los Angeles - circa 1955, from the collection of Art Aratin

Kelbo's was famous for their very sweet and delicious barbecued ribs.

Souvenir menu postcard from Kelbo's - date unknown, from the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library

source: collection of Mimi Payne. arkivatropical

Kelbo's menu also included burgers, barbecue meat sandwiches and seafood. Every plate was garnished with a piece of pineapple and the fired shrimp was coated with coconut.



bambooben said...

right on!

Anonymous said...

Kelbo's also had a third location in Morningside Park (Inglewood) on Manchester near Crenshaw. I remember it being there but cannot say when it opened or closed.

culturebook said...

I so miss Kelbo's. They had the bomb 70s disco party in 1992,3,4 before they closed and became that stupid strip club


Karin said...

Interesting history. Now if only you had a photo of the Go-Go's at Kelbo's!

Anabel Bouck said...

Jack Bouck was my grandfather. I was born in 81 and never got to see Kelbos.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Santa Monica and when we had a birthday we were allowed to pick the restaurant to have our bday dinner. I always chose Kelbos. I loved that place. It was magical for a kid. The tables had thick resin with keys and coins, and other cool stuff that were under the resin, it was dark and mysterious and all the tables were private as you had palm trees and bamboo around each sealing you off from the other patrons. One of my best childhood memories. Any one have the recipe for the ribs?

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