Bahooka; Eatery/Restaurant with 100 Aquariums celebrating milestone
This is the original story form the San Gabriel Valley Tribune about the Bahooka Restaurant that I serviced and set up most of their aquariums starting in 1978.
I reference this restaurant as part of my experience in another Fish as Pets post; “Aquarium Experience”
I started at the Rosemead location in 1978 after an employee recommended me to Owner Jack Fliegel after saving her Arowana in a “fish medical” house call in my relatively new Aquarium Maintenance business (I had been in the hobby for over 10 years prior). From there I revamped already started aquariums and set up many more.
I also used this restaurant for my Wedding Rehearsal dinner years later and received many other clients from seeing my work here (such as Disney Studios)
Here is the newspaper story (edited for a more widespread audience):
By Jennifer McLain
Here is a newspaper clipping picture of 31 year old Rufus the Pacu from the Bahooka Restaurant that I maintained and set up most aquariums for almost two decades with Suzanne Schneiders standing next to Rufus (click to enlarge).
Rosemead, CA- It’s the only place in town where umbrella drinks, a carrot-eating fish and tiki torches are the norm.
And Bahooka Restaurant Family Restaurant co-owner Suzanne Schneiders thinks that’s only part of the charm to this family establishment.
“I just think that it is the atmosphere that people love,” said Schneiders. “I tell people it’s a cross between the Tike Room and the Pirates of the Caribbean”
Bahooka has been a San Gabriel Valley (East of Downtown Los Angeles) staple since 1967 when former residents Betty Twigg and her brother Jack Fliegel opened the restaurant in West Covina, CA.
“They wanted to do something different” said Schneiders.
They came up with a Polynesian Theme, but super sized.
The restaurant serves big portions of ribs, shrimp, and steaks and has a bar full of sweet alcoholic drinks.
But it is the décor that is most memorable to its customers.
Ship remains, fishnets, dried blowfish, Polynesian crafts and more than 100 aquariums fill the restaurant.
The idea was an instant success. The 13 table restaurant in West Covina grew and in the 1970s a second location which seats 300, was opened in Rosemead.
Forty years later the children of Twigg and Fliegel have kept the restaurant going, and are now celebrating its success with an anniversary in Nov. 2007.
“It’s different,” said general manager Pat Kenealy, who started 37 years ago as a bar tender. “And one of the reasons it’s stayed open so long is it is a family restaurant.”
Eventually the West Covina location closed. The Rosemead location however has remained.
“We hear a lot of people say, ‘Wow, that place is still open?’ Schneiders said”.
Schneiders walked throughout the restaurant the night of the interview, pointing out everything that gives the Bahooka its character, from her favorite fish to the longtime waiters to her uncle’s souvenir purchases from around the world.
Of course, there’s more to the restaurant than the atmosphere, Kenealy said. A 40 year old family recipe for salad dressing, ribs and the 60 salad bar drinks are also big attractions.
The restaurant has attracted local, Hollywood stars and world travelers.
Diners included Kirstie Alley, Oscar De La Hoya, and David Hasselhoff. Recently, Jim Carrey filmed “The Number 23” in the restaurant, and in 1997 scenes for the film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” staring Johnny Depp, were shot there.
Stacey Fliegel, a co-owner, said she remembers running around the restaurant when she was a child. Working here for nearly 30 years, she has seen a lot of familiar faces come through the doors. As the owners hope for success, Fliegel looks to customers to keep it going.
“It’s not that business is falling off,” Fliegel said, “But once in a while, you need to walk down memory lane and remember how you got to where you are”.
Here is a pdf of the original newspaper article about the Bahooka Restaurant (including Rufus the Pacu): Bahooka Restaurant; Eatery celebrating milestone
Other Recommended Aquatic Sites:
Aquarium Saltwater-Marine Care, Basics
Aquarium Silicone -The best silicones for aquarium repair, construction
Aquarium Information; Grants Pass Oregon- My blog of aquarium and pond news that relates to me and Grants Pass
|Recommended Aquatic Sites
Premier Articles include Aquarium Lighting,
Aquarium Chemistry; Calcium & more, etc.
AQUARIUM AND POND ANSWERS with articles such as RO, Soft Water for Aquarium, PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting or Aquarium Silicone Applications