In the Old Days:
Arielle Haze views
Unpainting the Town:
Helen K. Garber photos
Art at the Rose Cafe'
New Venice Sign
In the Old Days: the Cabrillo Ship Cafe'
Card postmarked 1907
Card postmarked 1909
Card postmarked 1910
Card postmarked 1909
Card postmarked 1911
The brass coin is the reverse of the one at the top of the right column. It contained the 1913 schedule for the Tigers baseball team.
Baron Long's Ship Cafe, built in 1905 alongside the Abbot Kinney pier and originally run by Carlo Marchetti, was the "in" spot to find some of this "action." Named the "Cabrillo," the combination hotel-restaurant was fashioned after a Spanish galleon and served up high-priced cuisine in the main dining room, or in private salons on the second deck. The staff were uniformed like sixteenth-century naval officers, and, as in most places outside Los Angeles, hootch was available to any well-heeled customer who could afford it.
The Ship was available for private functions, which many of Hollywood's rising stars preferred, and the mayhem that attended New Year's Eve made for headline copy. It was at the Ship that Valentino had his heels cooled by movie queen Nazimova, who called him a "pimp" and a "gigolo" at a private party she was throwing for coworkers at Metro. And it was Buster Keaton who, pestered by autograph hounds, jumped out of one of the restaurant's portholes in a faked escape attempt, only to find twice as many fans when he returned.
The Ship continued its boisterous activities despite a fire and reconstruction in 1924, several name changes (it was briefly the Showboat Cafe), and management shifts (from Baron Long to the Lyman Brothers and on to Tommy Jacobs, who remodeled it in 1933 for $50,000). But its heyday was before the Depression, and it slipped into obscurity, eventually to be razed in October 1946. On the Sunday night of January 11, 1920, before Prohibition took effect, an estimated 100,000 revelers jammed this seaside resort, closing off all available avenues into the town. Tables at the Ship Cafe went for $300, and doors were closed at 10 p.m. after capacity had long since been reached.
Enjoy the entire Paul Tanck articles, as well as much more about Venice's unique history, in the Venice Firsts collection.
Then you arrived at the Ship Café. Notorious for its famous service, its featured expert cuisine and excellent "sunset service," you knew this was the eatery for you. You'd already heard how on July 1, 1905, Nina Adams had christened the bow of the Ship Hotel "Cabrillo" to an appreciative crowd of 150 invited local guests. L. Marchetti, the restaurant's proprietor, hosted the festivities. And since then it'd been a real doozy of a hit for everyone dining there.
But not enough for Abbot Kinney, the doge of Venice. He closed his Ship Café in 1907 for extensive renovations, doubling the seating capacity of the dining room. A gangplank was also added to facilitate patrons' accessibility to the promenade deck and the Banquet Room, without requiring them to pass through the main dining room. This only helped increase business to this "must-see" tourist spot.
Baron Long, who had started out in the Los Angeles area organizing boxing at the Vernon Fight Arena, then teamed up with Julius Rosenfield in 1917 to purchase the Ship Café, making it the most distinct and picturesque establishments in all of Los Angeles. Originally designed by architects Norman Marsh and Clarence Russell to replicate the Spanish galleon used by Juan Cabrillo, discoverer of the Santa Monica bay, it was a rollicking place throughout early Venice history. After completely burning in the horrific fire on the pier in 1920, it was rebuilt and maintained its prominence until the pier was ultimately closed and torn down in 1946.
By the mid 20s, Ward McFadden took control of the Ship Café and made it the Brown Derby of its day, the 'in' place where motion picture stars mingled with Los Angeles area politicians and wealthy businessmen. The dining was intimate, the food excellent, and Ward McFadden, Ralph Arnold, who was the proprietor in 1929, and Tommy Jacobs, a decade later, were the perfect hosts. A grand time was had by all.
Charlie Chaplin was a guest at the Ship Hotel for two nights.
When the pier was rebuilt after the 1920 fire, the Cabrillo was also rebuilt, only in a different place and orientation, relative to the pier.
Mobster Albert Marco, aka Marco Albori
© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman