Thursday, August 31, 2023

Constructing Nemo, 2006

Going through the vaults, I found these shots from May 2006 documenting the construction of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction. The original Submarine Voyage had closed September 1998, creating an eyesore and gripes from guests for close to a decade before Nemo opened in June 2007.

The Matterhorn, also an original 1959 attraction, watches as its forgotten sibling rises from the ashes.

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, then you know my feelings about the Nemo incarnation vs. the original. Below is a shot from happier times, circa September 1971:

Remember the Skyway and the Carousel of Progress? More laments from this blogger which don’t need to be repeated. There’s that old saying about beating a dead horse.

See more Disneyland Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage photos at my main website.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

R.I.P., El Dorado

I was in shock after I read this post on the Instagram account of El Dorado Cocktail Lounge:

“It is better to have loved and lost, than to have n ever loved at all.” As of today, El Dorado is closing its doors.

How can that be? After walking by this place every week for almost fifteen years to catch the bus to work, I finally went inside a month ago and fell in love. It is (was) the kind of place I adore: dark, kitschy, great service, ecclectic in decor, slightly retro, and classic cocktails that were crafted to perfection.

What took me so long to visit? First, it is not in a great area. Barely a block from the San Diego City College transit station on Broadway, every day you need to avoid eye contact with cracked out addicts shouting out profanities and sometimes exposing themselves. Keep moving. That’s my motto. However, after all this time, the glass block and neon at the entrance beckoned me in. I am so glad they did.

I’m even happier that I took my camera. Twice.

The reason the bar closed is still unknown to me. According to SANDIEGOVILLE:

No reason has been given for the reason behind El Dorado's sudden closure. We reached out to the company for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publishing.

They also gave a little history of the establishment:

In 2008, Nathan Stanton (then co-owner of Consortium Holding Hospitality Group), his younger twin brothers, Marshall and Matthew Stanton, and Ryan Kuntz took over what was then Hong Kong Nite Club on Broadway in San Diego's East Village and opened El Dorado Cocktail Lounge. Under the Consortium Holdings umbrella of bars and restaurants, the establishment hired some of the finest barkeeps this city has to offer and soon became respected as innovators and educators in the cocktail world. Last fall, news broke that Glendale, CA-base Pouring With Heart restaurant group, which also owns Seven Grand and Bar Three Piece in San Diego's North Park, took over the establishment. The new owners closed the bar early this year and transitioned it to offer a more classic cocktail experience. Less than a year later, the company has announced that El Dorado is permanently closed.

A “Karen” on Instagram posted this comment on IG on the El Dorado account:

Y'all deserved to get shut down. It was f#$%^d up to tell employees y'all were closing THE DAY OF just so your workers wouldn't quit on you. DESERVED. Pretty sure they were trying to make as much as they still could to afford the costs of a failing business. I'm also sure they didn't wanna risk people quitting without notice, bc what's the point of staying at a job that can't even give a reference later? They've left many people jobless and without income, and let people work a full shift before doing so. Time that would've been spent finding another job was stolen from them.

How a person who lives in Virginia knew the behind-the-scenes story about a downtown San Diego bar is beyond me. Rarely are things as simple as they appear.

I don’t recall the previous Hong Kong Nite Club iteration at this location, so can’t speak to that one. Possibly another reason for the El Dorado failing was its hours. How does a bar downtown not open until 6pm? You immediately lose the happy hour business to other establishments. On the three occasions that I visited, the place was empty. I’m sure the hipsters arrived much later.

One of the restroom signs; guess I won’t be able to get a shot of the other sign.

A shy maiden forever stuck in the rain hung over the bar.

Lots of taxidermy.

My favorite cocktail, the El Diablo. It was delish. I raise my glass to the good times at El Dorado.

Moral of the story:

Don’t rely on the fact that there will always be a next time. Live your life NOW!

Oh yes, and take the photos that you want at that moment.

I guess I better get myself over to the Chee Chee Club down the street and check it. At least that one opens at noon!

See more El Dorado Cocktail Lounge photos at my main website.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Lounging at The Lafayette, Pt. 2

The Mississippi Room at the Hotel Manor (now The Lafayette) was where guests could hear the big bands, drink, dance, and do all the things that made life fun back in the fifties. This souvenir photo is from November 1950. Yes, in the day before selfies, people paid for souvenir photos. This lounge was where my Aunt used to hang out at night when she was done her shift as a waitress. Apparently, when Jack McLean joined the Navy in mid-1943, his orchestra was taken over by Jimmy Kennedy, owner of San Diego’s Paris Inn (downtown on the corner of 1st and C), where they had been playing.

Based on this hanging banner, it would appear that the Mississippi Room will be making a comeback, but isn’t quite ready just yet.

The lobby bar gets packed at night with the local hipsters.

At first glance, I loved the decor; at second, something about it just seems a little too “off the shelf” and manufactured. I’m not quite sure that it will age well.

Now we arrive at the initial destination: Beginner’s Diner.

The copy on the menu reads as follows:

This thing. here, this isn’t a diner. The real diner is dead. Beginners Diner is the Smithsonian ode to the diner because the craving for better and cheaper that created the diner wound up killing it off in the end. We long to see the true diner in the wild, but are only really able to experience it in the films and our imagination. So sure, the diner survives, but it survives as a twisted and perverted and idolized version of itself. And in the end, the idea of the diner will outlive all of us in places like Beginner’s Diner, because as Ringo (a.k.a. Honey Bunny) says in Pulp Fiction, “The days of me forgetting are over, and the days of me remembering have just begun.”

Interesting copy; it serves to justify the higher prices (probably smart to condition the customer that way), but fails to note that there are some traditional diners that still exist “in the wild.” I know…I’ve been there. If you’re going to write smart-ass copy, do your research before you make a claim. Back to Beginner’s Diner…

With Mar-mar, my partner in crime. We were ready to try the tater tots.

The hit of this visit was the Boozy Milkshake (I chose Banana Coconut). Just the right amount of booze, it also came with a good amount of leftover in the metal mixing container. Nice touch!

I ordered the French Dip. I was happy with my choice as far as flavor goes; however, for $22, I would have expected the sandwich to be a little more about the meat and less so on the bun. The tater tots were good, but Station Tavern is not going to lose me as a customer any time soon.

The apple pie was good, but lacked the flavor I would expect from a diner. Nice plate though!

Overall, Beginner’s Diner gets an A+ on presentation, but a C+/B- on the food. Still worth the trip, and let’s keep in mind…they just opened. Hopefully in time things will improve.

Here’s a sound clip from youTube of the Jack McLean orchestra playing “When the April Showers Reach Hawaii,” circa 1947. You can imagine yourself sipping a cocktail at the Mississippi Room while you listen to it.

Is there more to come from this story? Of course! See more Lafayette Hotel and Club photos at my main website.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Lounging at The Lafayette, Pt. 1

Opening on July 1, 1946, The Lafayette Hotel was originally known as Imig Manor, after its owner, local businessman Larry Imig. It became a place for celebrities (Bob Hope, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, and Lana Turner) to escape Hollywood and hang out at the Johnny Weissmuller designed swimming pool as well as the 100+ guest suites. A recent $31 million renovation has given new luster to the Colonial mansion styled building, located along El Cajon Boulevard in North Park. The above shot is how the façade looked in 2014; below was taken after the remodel.

The Red Fox Room was a steakhouse that was once located on the front left corner of the hotel, since 1959. The restaurant moved across the street a few years back to make way for a different concept.

It is now Quixote, an upscale Mexican eatery.

Early press releases said the name of the restaurant/bar would be Mama Intento, and the base paint of the sign confirms that. However, the neon over it and the hotel website no longer reference that name.

The entrance:

The lobby. Wow! The experience when you enter is not what you would expect from the Tara Plantation exterior. It is more akin to the Jungle Room at Graceland (I’ll leave that up to you as to whether that’s good or not).

The famous Weissmuller pool:

More to come on this place!

See more Lafayette Hotel and Club photos at my main website.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Vintage Disneyland Quickie

As I was going through these 3 consecutive vintage shots of Disneyland, I noticed that they could be layered into a quick animated gif, giving us a few seconds of life on Main Street, U.S.A. circa 1956. First we have the Horse-Drawn Streetcar, followed by the red Horseless carriage…

and another red Horseless carriage shot as it approaches the Plaza Apartments (wonder what rent would be for those today?):

Combined and layered in Photoshop, we have as the French say, Voilà!

See more Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A. photos at my main website.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Disneyland in 3D: June 26, 1966, Pt. 3

Today marks the 3rd and final installment of the June 26, 1966 Disneyland in 3D (aka genuine FauxD© series). Wouldn’t it be great to step inside of the Penny Arcade?

Despite the blur of guests, you can see Esmeralda the fortune teller front and center:

Eastman Kodak? Film for cameras? Huh?

For all you cellphone snapping goobers, yes…cameras used to take film. Real film. And you could buy it right on Main Street, U.S.A. at the Eastman Kodak Shop.

Just take a look inside those windows:

This overall view down Main Street shows the location of the Penny Arcade and Kodak shop across from each other with the Train Station at the end of the street in Town Square:

This view was shot closer to the Castle:

The sign on the far left that is cut off says “Insurance by North America,” aka INA. That was the sponsor of the Carefree Corner (not to be confused with the Coke Corner across the street).

This set would not be complete without a nighttime shot of the Castle:

By this time the coat of arms had been added above the entrance:

The last one shows the Mark Twain at the dock:

Oh to take a spin around the original Rivers of America again!

See more vintage and contemporary Disneyland photos at my main website.