Los Angeles (Pico), California, United States
This Kelbo's was the first of two, built in 1947. Two men, Thomas Kelley and Jack Bouck, combined the first syllables of their last names and invented Kelbo’s, a small chain of Hawaiian barbecues whose food was not all that Hawaiian: burgers, barbecue meat sandwiches and some miscellaneous seafood. The concession to the islands was that every plate was garnished with a piece of pineapple and the fried shrimp was coated with coconut. They also served very sweet (but very good) barbecued ribs and had a menu of tropical drinks, some of which came flaming or served in a skull mug. Eli Hedley was the main designer and he was also responsible for the interior of other tropical-themed restaurants like Don the Beachcomber. Kelbo’s felt like a place that had been decorated in the thirties or forties and then no one changed anything. The second Kelbo's was on Fairfax in La Brea, opened in 1950 across from CBS Television City, and was later torn down. It was a popular hangout for crew members who worked across the street at CBS Television City in the fifties and sixties. This first Kelbo's was over on Pico at Exposition. After this Pico location was shuttered, the building was converted into a bikini bar called Fantasy Island for a time. Much of the Kelbo’s advertising art was done by Bob Hale who otherwise turned up on Los Angeles TV from time to time as a cartooning weatherman. (He was also active in Seattle where he owned a popular hobby shop that bore his name.) Hale’s drawings of a fat Hawaiian guy in native garb could be seen on Kelbo’s napkins and menus, and both of the outlets had huge Bob Hale murals on the outside.
Closed in 1994.
NOTE: Fourth photo is of Jack Bouck in aloha jacket. Seventh photo shows Sonny Heideman at bar. Last photo shows Tom Kelley on the right.
No one has visited this tiki bar.