No, it’s NOT a typo. On Wednesday, Nov. 25, all the prices on the menu at the legendary Galley Restaurant on Main Street are rolled back to what they were in 1934! (Salmon dinner is 75¢.) In 1934 The Galley first opened, making it now possibly the oldest, and among the most charming, restaurant and bar in Santa Monica.
Over 20 years ago, “1934 Night” was the brainchild of Ron Schur, aka “Captain Ron,” owner of The Galley who looks like a fit Larry David, the comedian. Coincidentally, when Ron first arrived in LA from New York, his goal was to be a comedian. While it turned out Ron wasn’t quite funny enough for a career as a stand up, for a restaurateur, he’s Seinfeld.
To give you a sense of Ron’s humor, here’s how he greeted me: “Jack, I read your columns every week, you’re so funny!” Before I could savor the compliment he added, “Sometimes.” Is that Larry David or what?
Even how Ron purchased The Galley is humorous. He owned a fast food restaurant in the Valley, Snacks 5th Avenue, but was a regular at The Galley. (Which, pun intended, was barely staying afloat.)
He loved The Galley’s famous and “secret” salad dressing, so much he tried to bribe Millie, a waitress there for 30 years, for the recipe. Finally, Millie countered, “If you wanna know so badly why don’t you buy the @#!#* place?!” A few years later, Ron took Millie’s advice.
Ron bought it from Ralph Stephan, the colorful and eccentric owner. One memory I have of Ralph was his watching “Gilligan’s Island” on the TV in his office as his cat paraded around The Galley, finally hopping up on the bar.
As fast as Santa Monica is changing the more you should visit The Galley. When you open the big ship-like doors and go inside, it’s as though you’re stepping back in time. (A couple of drinks from The Galley bar and some “Twilight Zone” music and I’d half-expect Rod Serling to be drinking next to me.)
The Galley has a warm, candle-lit ambiance. The seafaring interior includes portholes for windows, a captain’s wheel, the aforementioned South Seas Bar (wonderfully stiff drinks) and an outdoor patio decorated with fishing net and seashells.
Back in the day, The Galley was a colorful dive, ever popular with steak and fish-eating and hard-drinking locals. It’s still a great hang out but it’s been given a makeover. And yet it’s a beautifully preserved California landmark with memorabilia that has been at The Galley for 81 years.
The old bamboo and rattan furnishings, the nets and rigging that decorate the walls, and the pictures of Hollywood celebrities from the past are a few of the surroundings that make The Galley special. Some of the oldest pieces are from the 1934 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” the reason being many of the stars and crew frequented The Galley!
Two Dead Eyes, nautical equipment used in the movie, now adorns the wall. Also there are location photos of Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. The steering wheel in the movie now hangs from the ceiling, while a boat from the movie sits on the patio.
In the early 1940’s, WWII war bond posters were mailed to The Galley, sent to urge onlookers to do their part in the war. The collection of 11 posters are framed around The Galley with the original envelopes on the back. Great stuff.
The Galley is open 7 days a week, including lunch starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, which is an excellent value. The heated patio dining is ideal for watching Sunday football on the giant screen and is never too crowded.
As for the cuisine, Captain Ron offers customers a wide variety, including mouth-watering steaks, chicken, seafood, pastas and vegetarian dishes. Among local favorites are the East Coast Little Neck Clams, jumbo shrimp cocktail and filet mignon chili. (Ron also attributes the restaurant’s success to The Galley Girls, his team of friendly, pretty and skilled waitresses.)
While Ron has a slightly sarcastic sense of humor, he also has a big heart. For 17 years he’s been on the board of No Limits For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. No Limits is an amazing theater group in Culver City, which uses plays and musicals to build the kids’ confidence and uncover their potential. (Is that terrific or what?)
Annually, Ron hosts a charity softball game on behalf of No Limits. This year they raised $20,000! So, not only does he own an iconic restaurant, but Captain Ron is a mensch.
So, if you can scrape together 85¢, make it down to The Galley on Wednesday for bon appétit at 1934 prices. My guess is, given the outstanding food and drink, plus the charm of The Galley Girls and Captain Ron, you’ll likely become a regular. (Although I still can’t forget he said I’m funny, only…sometimes!)
“1934 Night” sold out in 3 hours and is now by invitation only. Available for private parties, The Galley is at 2442 Main St. and open 7 days a week. Happy hour is 5-7 p.m. at the bar and patio. For more, go to www.thegalleyrestaurant.net. No Limits is at www.nolimitsfordeafchildren.org.
Jack is at firstname.lastname@example.org.