Jack's At The Beach, Santa Monica 1940s (WW2)
Born in Greece circa 1892, Jack Compselides was a busboy at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel before he moved to Venice, California, and opened a small fish shack in 1917. He called his little outpost Jack’s at the Beach.
The establishment flourished and was relocated to the north end of Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica in the 1940s. This beautiful menu cover, reflecting the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean and the delicate creatures who lived under the waves, is from that era and displays OPA (Office of Price Administration) pricing because of World War II.
Sonny Meyer came on board as manager and Jack’s at the Beach was a favorite with local diners and a refuge for Hollywood heavyweights, who could dine in relative privacy. Among the famous names who dined there; Ginger Rogers, Jimmy Cagney, Hedy Lamar (once named the most beautiful woman in the world) and John Garfield. Helen Rose, head costume designer at MGM, was also a regular.
Sonny’s son Richard, now in his 80s, told us a great story about a young up and coming actress who once complained that the ‘ice was too cold’ in her cocktail. Very starry behavior!
Other locals have told us they have fond memories of drinking martinis and eating butter-soft sautéed abalone or oysters on the half-shell while the restaurant 'creaked like a ship at sea.'
After the death of its founder in 1957, the business was taken over by the Hecht family. The restaurant served fresh seafood until 1975 when a storm damaged both the restaurant and the pier. Both were demolished.
Jack’s at the Beach moved inland, to 2700 Wilshire. The restaurant was sold in 1990 to the small but venerable Los Angeles Pacific Dining Car chain. Its two establishments closed during the pandemic but there are hopes that the current owner Wes Idol III – the great grandson of PDC founders Fred and Grace “Lovey” Cook – may pivot to a new restaurant model.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu or cover.