Lobster Barrel

North of Restaurant Row, in a building that now houses something called The Shark Bar, there was a seafood restaurant owned at least in part by “Skipper” Alan Hale from the TV series, Gilligan’s Island. I believe The Lobster Barrel was a small chain in nearby cities at the time and that Hale arranged to buy into the one on at 826 N. La Cienega Boulevard and they then plastered his name and face all over it. Unless acting work kept him away, he was always there to greet people, show them to their table and pose for snapshots. At each place setting, there was a large color postcard bearing a portrait of the Skipper. If you looked at all like a first-timer, he would seat you and then without being asked, autograph the postcard to you. He also sold (or sometimes gave away) skipper hats like the one he was always wearing.

I only ate there once and was a bit overpowered by Mr. Hale’s teddy bear friendliness. He called everyone “Little Buddy” and seemed a bit too happy to have us there. Still, you had to admire his spirit. The place had been open for some time before our visit and he didn’t seem tired of all the jokes about Ginger and Mary Ann washing dishes, and was the Professor in the kitchen making the clam chowder and did you have to be Thurston Howell III to afford the full steak-’n’-lobster combo? I was kind of hoping they’d have something set up where every half-hour or so, one of the interior palm trees would drop a coconut on his head…but no such luck.

His restaurant was open for fifteen years and then when business slumped, he shut it down and started a travel agency which he ran until his death in 1990. (Would you book a tour through the man who ran the Minnow aground?) About the time the Lobster Barrel closed, Sonny Bono opened a trattoria just around the corner. I guess starting a restaurant in that neighborhood is what you’re supposed to do when you’re on CBS, your show gets cancelled and your former partner goes on to other projects without you.

26 Responses to Lobster Barrel

  • Bill Cotter says:

    I brought my parents and girlfriend (now wife) to the Lobster Barrel as my folks were visiting from NY and hoped to spot a celebrity while out here. I had heard Alan Hale was usually there so we decided to give it a try. He was indeed there that night and went from table to table, so when he stopped by to say hello my folks were thrilled.

    I said “I’d like to ask you a question about your show that you probably are tired of answering.” He smiled and said something like “Probably, but go ahead.” I asked “Did they really let you drive the train?”

    He stared at me like I was insane and then started laughing. “Are you talking about Casey Jones?” That was a series he starred in from 1957-58. I think he was thrilled to be asked a non-Gilligan question. He talked a bit about the series, then strolled off. A few minutes later the waiter brought me a drink, courtesy of Mr. Hale.

    It was a fun night. My parents were glad to meet a real celebrity, I’m glad I made him laugh – and the food was pretty good.

  • Alan Kupperberg says:

    I ate at The Lobster Barrel one time. Met Mr. Hale. He pinched my cheek. He was terrific. The food was okay.

  • Eric Jackson says:

    I never ate there, but I passed it often on the way to work and a few times saw Alan Hale outside hosing down the small driveway and entrance himself.

  • Larry Parker says:

    The stuffed lobster was great… but the best thing was … I was on a date and I was about 21 years old… Alan Hale walked up and greeted me with a big “Hi, good to see you again” It might have been his standard greeting, but I actually thought he remembered me and it helped with setting a great mood for the dinner date.

  • Cathy Brehm says:

    I was in my early 20′s and I was on a double date. We had such a great time that night. My group had a bit too much to drink and we were tossing rolls around, aiming them at the light fixtures. We were asked to calm down from the staff, and later we met the skipper and talked with him a while. He wasn’t upset with us, he was very friendly like an old friend. I remember we were singing the Gillians Island Theme song during our stay. It was very memorable.

  • Louise (Weezie) Stange-Wahl says:

    I was out in Los Angeles working in a film, and My best friend and I would usually go to Casa Cugat for dinner, which was right down the street from Skipper’s Lobster. He was always out in front of the store, smiling and greeting people, and always with his Captain’s cap and blue polo shirt. Sadly both these wonderful eateries are long gone, but the photos and memories remain forever!

  • Jimmy S Greene says:

    I LOVED this place.

    Sure, Alan came by tables quite frequently, but my biggest surprise was when we showed up just as the doors opened for dinner. It was valet parking, & the attendant apparently hadn’t shown up yet. Out walked Alan Hale & he actually parked my car! That was no easy feat as Alan was a big guy & I had a Sunbeam Alpine! Later he sat down with us & chatted it up a bit. Great guy, good food. Ahhhhhh memories.

  • Robert N says:

    Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel wasn’t a franchise. It, along with the Casa Cugat and the Captains Table restaurant were owned by a private restaurant group (brothers). Alan and Cugie may have had a piece of the action but they were not principals in the restaurants with their names on them.

    I used to valet at the three restaurants during their hay days. Alan was a nice man most of the time, when he was tipsy (which was most of the time) but he could be a challenge when he wasn’t. I witnessed the owners handing Alan cash at the end of the night on many occasions. He would get in his 60′s Caddy and drive off 30 minutes before closing, like clockwork. All this before the days of MADD of course (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). I think Alan was the chapter president of DAMM (Drunks Against Mad Mothers).

    I find the story of Alan chasing David Caradine out with a bat amusing. I don’t get that Alan would have the cajones to do that but… I don’t know of the incident. It certainly is possible, Alan was a pretty big guy (6’2” – 260-275). It sounds more like something one of the managers would have done though, if the rumor is true.

    They used to have a very large lobster in a tank that was barely able to move. I felt so sorry for it. I felt sorry for the Skipper too. Here was a man larger than life, hustling tables for a few drinks and a little cash every night. He didn’t really seem all that “happy” a man to me although he was very good at portraying it to the customers.

    That look of insanity was more than likely him trying to recall what you’d just said to him just 3 seconds earlier and coming up with something clever to keep the conversation alive, and to keep from having to ask you. He was good at making people feel welcome, like they were a best friend (when he was “on”).

    There were many stars who would visit the three restaurants, mostly Casa Cugat. I remember there were Cugat drawings of many of them hanging on the walls throughout the Restaurant. Liza Minnelli was one of them hanging by the front door. I use to think… “Who is this Lisa chick anyway?” The Drawing looked like a hillbilly Joan Jett on a bad hair day. I had no idea or concept of the company I kept at the time (or should I say; kept me…).

    I’ll always have fond memories of the days at the Lobster Barrel and of Alan Hale.

    RIP Skipper…

  • Mike Banton says:

    Whatever his motivation or circumstances after Gilligan’s Island, he seemed to be one of the truly kind and open-hearted gentlemen of his time. How many “stars” today would bother to spend a few moments with a fan.
    A class act who will be missed as long as we remember the Skipper.

  • Kurt Thordarson says:

    I always wanted to eat at this restaurant, never made it in there, now it is too late! A lesson learned about hesitating.

  • Vic Baron says:

    i remember taking my girls here .. my mom, my date, my sister… alan made us feel very welcome and flirting with my mother every few minutes, touching her cheek (face) and saying “my what a beautiful lady”, i’m sure that made my mothers day!

  • Rick says:

    I always loved eating here, wish they still made restaurants like this.
    Ricky Hanson

  • Rhyss Leary says:

    I would have loved to have met The Skipper while dining on seafood. Darn it…why couldn’t the Internet have been more popular in 1982!?

  • stan says:

    I remember reading in an old Rona Barrett Hollywood magazine that Alan Hale did have an incident with comedian Stu Gilliam.

  • GregL says:

    Can anyone tell me what year the Skipper’s restaurant opened and when it closed?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Dan I says:

    I was a young man in my twenties dining on Restaurant Row for the first time with my future wife. We ordered the bouillabaisse, and it was the most wonderful tasting dish I have ever had. Of course I was in my 20′s at the time, and my tastes most likely have changed, but it was so very memorable. Alan Hale came to our table, and he was a gracious host. He spoke with us at length, thanked us for attending his restaurant, and shook our hands. A memory I will never forget.

  • dawn shelton says:

    I would watched Gilligan iland when it came on I love all the people on there it was so funny . to watched them. and I herd the skipper and mr howl and mrs. howl die and Gilligan past away now theres mary ann ginger Russell Johnson professor. they were great actors I love them all they will be miss rip

  • Susan Cantrell says:

    On our fifth anniversary my husband decided he wanted to take me out for lobster..We were living in LA at the time and decided we would try out a new restaurant , The Lobster Barrel, owned by Alan Hale Jr . Come Saturday, we dropped off the kids with my in-laws and drove to the restaurant. The Matre D’ met us at the door and escorted us to our table .As we were perusing the menus that had just been placed in our hands, my husband gave me a startled look. He started patting his jacket pockets and then his pant pockets ..It was at that point he realized he had left his wallet back at the house..The contents in my wallet revealed we had a checkbook and enough cash to order “Chicken-in a Pot” (chicken pot pie) if we shared and drank water, and overlooked the tip..It just didn’t seem right sitting there all elegantly dressed, at an elegantly dressed table ,sharing pot pie on such an important occasion

    My husband looked at me and said “honey, I didn’t bring you here for pot pie, I brought you here for lobster!’ and you’re going to have lobster ,one way or another!” He then got up and disappeared for a few moments..Little did I know, but Alan Hale was in the restaurant and my husband approached him , explained the situation, and asked if Mr Hale would take a check. He was more than pleased to do so..When Steve came back to the table, Alan Hale was with him..He walked up,greeted me, kissed my hand and wished me a Happy Anniversary. Somewhere in my things, I have a canceled check signed by the skipper himself..Such a gracious man he was!

    Wonderful memories of wonderful times.

  • john nichols says:

    the 1970s and 1980 s I would see alan hale almost every Tuesday at musso &frank sitting at counter by himself for corn beef & cabbage night. also sitting by himself almost every night was buddy ebsen. also one night I was staring at jack lalanne and he came over and shook my hand ask how I was doing . I was lifting weights at the time. some nights I would have two dinners. now trying to save money to have another meal.

  • Bob says:

    UI took my kids there when they were little… Hale was a real a-hole, the food was mediocre and I regretted going there… glad others had much better experience than we did… we tried not to be the ugly tourists… didn’t want to impose or ask for his autograph… just asked him to stop by the table to see the kids… he acted real put out…. he no more owned that restaurant than Ronald McDonald owns McDonalds… he was just a name on the building and as a washed up actor it was his job to be there and glad hand… he seemed to resent it too…

  • Maria e Martin says:

    I love the skipper Alan Hale thanks you skipper. My husband and I never eaten at your restaurant. We wish we could have meat you and say thanks to our little buddy. From, Maria

  • robert carlee says:

    I use to see alan at tiny naylor’s on sunset and la brea, this was in the early 80′s. Alan was always nice and a it drunk. He was happy to answer questions. Alan told me that he was paid $ 3500 per show. At that time, alan was driving a powder blue 1977 mercury gtand marquis, 2 door.

  • Lars Vanrich says:

    Bob: Maybe Hale acted that way with you because you’re an entitled SOB? If you’re as much of a jerk as you sound on here, I wouldn’t blame him for begrudgingly dealing with you. Besides, to judge someone so harshly because of one OFF DAY is quite an exaggeration.

  • Brad C. says:

    I remember dining there as a 20-something with three friends. We showed up around 5PM and were the only people there. We were probably stoned, too. Mr. Hale came over to our table but took one look at our stoned faces and, with a smile and distrustful glance, meandered away. In retrospect, I wish I could have been able to to him some respect and chat. As a kid, Gilligan’s Island was my favorite show.

  • James Davidson says:

    II went there when I was about 10. I rember Alan Hale said hi to me. he worea plaid jacket with no skipper hat

  • Ric Boyer says:

    I used to go there with My wife a bunch back in the early eighties,and The Skipper was always there.Never had a bad evening.Mr Hale would always come by the table and say a few words to Us,and almost always tell My wife how beautiful She was.Ah those were the days.RIP Skipper,I was proud to have met You.

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