He called his little cafe the Golden Lion, after one in San Diego that
he had worked as a chef. But because there was another cafe by that name
in Orange County, he changed the name to the Golden Bear.
Around 1925 Bakre and his wife Elsie moved the restaurant to a small
building at 310 Pacific Coast Highway.
Bakre enlarged the building to include 306 PCH in 1929 to the size most remember. Harry and Elsie contemplated adding a second story for a
hotel and they planned to call it the Golden Bear Hotel. But it never
materialized, although the cafe served to house the homeless just after
the earthquake of 1933.
The second Golden Bear began life as a nightclub in 1974 by Charles
and Rick Babiracki.
These two would turn a shop-worn building into a world-famous night
spot. Many famous names would begin their careers on their stage.
The variety of musical talent would today rival any Las Vegas
On stage were musicians of all different styles including jazz, swing,
Spanish guitar, western swing, heavy metal, blues and punk.
On its stage were beginning performers like Jimmy Hendrix, Linda
Ronstadt, Janis Joplin, B.B. King and Bob Dylan. Fifth Street businessman
Mike Morgan remembers an original Hawaiian group Cecila and Kapana and
the band Honk. He remembers that John Mayo, Steve Miller, Taj Mahal and
Jethro Tull played there.
Some other names that graced the boards were Hoyt Axton, Doc
Severinsen, Marty Ingles and Oingo Bongo.
Blues artists included John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Albert King.
Steppenwolf appeared graced the stage and you didn't bring your
grandmother from Iowa when Lenny Bruce appeared.
Before it closed Steve Martin took the entire audience outside and
down to the pier to heckle the fishermen in January of 1986.
Less known artists included The Dreggs, Love & Terror, Desperate
Living, the Squares, Type, Stronghold, One, Public Contact, Vision and
Radieux. There was Los Lobos and the Blasters too.
The last to perform on the stage before it became a memory was Robin
Trower, Phoebe Snow and Taj Mahal.
The Golden Bear was demolished by the owners on May 18, 1986.
One of the owners, Dick Schwartz, had some of the bricks and wood
beams transported to his home in Thousand Oaks for a deck.
But the legend of the Golden Bear grows stronger every day and maybe
one day I'll be walking Downtown and look up to see the image of it
staring back at me.