Community News

Huntington Beach Happenings

by: Chris MacDonald
Published: September 25, 2023


HUNTINGTON BEACH...Happy Birthday to Huntington Beach Sugar Shack Co-Owner Tim Turner Sr. and My Dad Craig MacDonald.

Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau Said: Here is a link to the action agenda from the previous special Huntington Beach City Council Meeting on Thursday September 21st, 2023.

Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau Said: Here is a link to the Huntington Beach City Council Action agenda from Tuesday September 19th, 2023.

Huntington Beach Planning Commission Chair Tracy Pellman Said: The next Huntington Beach Planning Commission Meeting is on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at The Civic Center, Council Chambers 2000 Main Street Huntington Beach, CA 92648 Regular Meeting - 6:00 PM. Public comments are welcomed.



EIR: To analyze the potential environmental impacts associated with the project; GPA: Revise the General Plan Land Use Map designation from Commercial General (CG) to Mixed Use (MU) with a Specific Plan Overlay; ZMA: To amend the zoning designation from Commercial General (CG) to Specific Plan 19 (SP-19); ZTA: To establish the Bolsa Chica Senior Living Community Specific Plan including development standards for height, open space, and convalescent uses on the subject site; CUP: To demolish 50,000 sq. ft. of existing commercial space and construct a new five-story 298,000 sq. ft. convalescent facility with on-site alcohol sales and consumption at a maximum overall height of 65 ft., consisting of 202 total units, a subterranean parking garage with 189 spaces, and associated hardscape and landscape improvements on a property with a grade differential above three feet that involves the excavation of more than 25,000 cubic yards of soil.

LOCATION: 4952 & 4972 Warner Avenue, 92649 (Southwest corner of Bolsa Chica Street and Warner Avenue)

Huntington Beach City Historian Jerry Person Said: Remember When -

Remembering the Golden Bear

Last week I was talking on the phone to book author Craig MacDonald and during the conversation he asked about the Golden Bear that was located at 306-310 Pacific Coast Highway that had been a landmark for over fifty seven years.

"The Bear" as most early residents called it began modestly in 1922 at 226 Main Street by Chef Harry Bakre. He named his cafe the Golden Lion after a restaurant of that same name in San Diego but there was another Golden Lion doing business in Orange County at that time so that he had to change the name to the Golden Bear.

Harry's life is just as colorful as his restaurant.

Born December 7, 1888 in San Francisco while his parents were vacationing here from Greece. At 13 he stowed away on a ship bound for California. He had learned to cook while in his teens and had worked as a chef for nine years at San Francisco's Palace Hotel.

He had also been a chef in world heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries' Main Street Cafe in Los Angeles and at the Barbara Worth Hotel in El Centro plus being a chef at the Red Lion in San Diego before coming to Huntington Beach in 1921.

When Bakre opened here, we were starting our famous oil boom years and with three shifts of oil workers a day needing to be fed, his little cafe prospered. It wasn't long before Harry relocated his cafe to 310 Ocean Avenue (P.C.H.) in April 1926 where he now had a beautiful ocean view. Harry bought the lot next door at 306 Ocean and began building an addition onto his modest cafe. When finished it would attract travelers from all parts of the country.

In June of 1929 his $40,000 stucco and tile building was ready for public inspection. Inside he had constructed a large square dining room, a banquet room, a lunch counter and one of the most modern soda fountains anywhere along our coast.

Being a chef at heart he had constructed a large kitchen with all the most modern fixtures. The cafe had a seating capacity of 250 which was large for our small beach town of the time. The outside reflected the Spanish-style look of the period and this look was carried out inside too. The floors were made of maple and it was Bakre's idea to have the banquet tables lowered through a side trap door into the cafe's basement so people could use the floor at night for dancing. 

Ever since his first cafe on Main Street, Bakre's special claim to fame were his aged steaks and fresh fish and seafood. He had installed special cooling pipes which ran through his refrigerator to keep the lobsters, crabs, abalone and fish fresh. Bakre and his assistant chef Sam Pappas ran the back of the cafe while Bakre's wife Elsie ran the front. Ruth Garland, Peggy Reed and Beatrice Biscailuz were hired as the cafe's waitresses. 

Harry had members of the Long Beach Orchestra brought down to play for his guests on the official opening day. Everything was in readiness for the Saturday Grand Opening on June 29, 1929. 

The Golden Bear would become a place to have meetings and several of our local clubs had their meetings in the banquet room. The Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce held many a meeting in that building and at time would hold meetings out on the front sidewalks by P.C.H. In July 1930 Bakre contemplated building a second story on top of the cafe to be known as the Golden Bear Hotel, but the Great Depression was beginning and the hotel was never built.During 

World War II soldiers were a familiar sight at the Golden Bear and with food in short supply, many people didn't have the money to buy food to feed their families. Louie Magana, the Golden Bear's dish washer would bring leftover breads and foods to those in need here Huntington Beach resident Robert Espitia told me many years ago.

Bakre's son-in-law Cecil Wheat opened the cafe that he name The Mill, but this restaurant only lasted until  it was sold to Aafke, John and Juanita Folker on June 23, 1951, that they named Folker's Cafe. But that didn't last for by mid-1952 Joe and Jack's Chop Suey opened,

The Huntington Beach Art Gallery opened in part of the large building in early 1963 Del Kauffman and Carroll "Rye" Rieson was looking for a spot to open a nightclub featuring live entertainment. They spotted the old Golden Bear building and knew it was the place. On November 27, 1963 the legend began with the grand opening featuring Les Baxter's Balladeers that included in the group a young David Crosby, who would later gain fame as Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Former Marine Delbert Kauffman reopened it as a folk music club that featured everyone from Bob Dylan and the Kingston Trio to Lenny Bruce and Alan Ginsberg.

It was under Kauffman and subsequent owners George Nikas and Rick, Chuck and Carole Babiracki that the Bear earned its legendary status as a music club. They began by auditioning new local musicians and later some of the biggest names in the music business would appear on its stage.

I can remember people lining up along PCH and up Third Street long before it opened for the evening.

A few of the names I can remember that played the Bear were: Marty Ingles and the Association, Glenn Yarbrough, B.B. King, Hoyt Axton, Doc Severinsen and Oingo Bongo. Some of the last talent in 1985 include;Love & Terror, Desperate Living, The Squares, The Type, Stronghold, One, Public Contact, Vision and Redieux.

The last talent to grace the stage was Robin Tower on January 29, 1986 and the very next day, January 30, 1986 the Orange County Sheriff closed the Golden Bear.

On May 18, 1986 the building was demolished by the property owners.

I remember walking down there and seeing a workman jackhammering a part of the wall and I thought ""He's the Butcher of the Bear," as the building was demolished by the property owners. I am sorry that the mural on the one outside wall by Robert Wyland could have been preserved.

An effort was made to bring back the Bear when Pier Pavilion was completed at the corner of Main St and PCH, but problems of sounds from the bands in the new Peppers Golden Bear entering the movie theater above and also it being hidden from street view doomed its come back.

On December 1, 2014, Carol, Chuck, Golden Bear along with former employees and former audience returned to the site of the original Golden Bear to unveil a plaque. The idea to honor the the memory of the old Golden Bear came from City Councilmen Joe Carchio and Matthew Harper.


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