Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

La Valencia Hotel brings back The Whaling Bar

And Wing Howard's famous mural is back on the wall

Families gather beneath Wing Howard’s whaling murals, back on display after decades behind plaster
Families gather beneath Wing Howard’s whaling murals, back on display after decades behind plaster

Whew. Something has been made right in La Jolla. For the last decade, everybody I’ve spoken to has talked as if a little piece of this town’s soul had been ripped out. A piece that used to make them feel that their neighborhood amounted to more than a tourism magnet or a luxury dormitory. And then, during a recent evening stroll down Prospect, the magic happened. “They’ve opened it back up!” said this elderly gentleman on the sidewalk outside The Pink Lady — La Valencia Hotel. He stood, looking awestruck at the bar. Oh wow. It’s The Whaling Bar. 



Last time I looked, The Whaling Bar was dead and buried. Some ten years ago, it was turned into the somewhat vapid Cafe La Rue. Big on expensive, small on lore. I counted it a loss. I had willingly drunk the Kool Aid on the old place’s romance. (My great great-great-granddaddy was a whaler, so I guess I was predisposed.) They had this 20-foot mural which I was pleased to see took the whale’s side of the story — or at least, there was some sympathy contained in the title: “The Whale’s Last Stand.” It was painted by Wing Howard, who tuned into the kinda literary notoriety that La Jolla’s own Rat Pack was giving the joint. Because, you think La Jolla, you think noir. Raymond Chandler was primus inter pares here, and he was beautifully noir in his writing. The Big Sleep. The Long Goodbye. Farewell, My Lovely. Not to mention Playback, his last novel, which is interesting on a local level, because he set it in Esmeralda, which was his code for La Jolla, where he lived the final years of his life. At this very bar, he drank, talked, and probably argued with his buddies, among them Gregory Peck and Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss himself). Other regulars dropping in here were probably too young for him: Jack Lemmon, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, and La Jolla luminaries like Jonas Salk (who, let’s remember, you anti-vaxxers, pretty-much saved humanity from polio with his vaccine), as well as Joan Kroc, and Sol Price, the Price Club founder. 


Place

Whaling Bar & Grill

1132 Prospect Street, San Diego

Sponsored
Sponsored



Chandler liked The Whaling Bar because a) this pretty cool group had the makings of a bona fide artists’ colony, b) a real artists’ colony, the Green Dragon, was situated right below the hotel, and c) he himself was a serious drinker who liked a serious bar. He said it himself: “I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean, and everything is shiny, and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight, and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back, and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening, and put it down on a crisp mat, and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar — that’s wonderful.”


La Valencia hotel opened in 1925. They created The Whaling Bar in 1949. It lasted 74 years, through 2013. Then, La Rue. But it turns out the town council petitioned the hotel to reopen The Whaling Bar, at least according to one manager on this night, which is — pure luck! — its soft opening. We’re surrounded by patches of Wing Howard‘s whaling mural, now broken up into four separate panels. Some folks are celebrating by ordering “The Whaler,” the joint’s signature cocktail of cognac, coffee liqueur, Irish whiskey and home-made ice cream. 


“Do you know what barstool Raymond Chandler actually sat on?” I ask. “No, but somewhere on that side of the room,” the manager says. “Doctor Seuss used to have a plaque in one of the booths. We want to put one back in. Gregory Peck used to be the artistic director for the theater in La Jolla. So all of his co-stars would come here. People are so interested, we did a whole staff training about the history of La Jolla. We’re very excited to see what people think of this vuelve a la vida.” Me, I think it’s grand.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Gonzo Report: Wu-Tang DJ backs ONYX at Pacific Beach’s Break Point

Ras Mike credited with bringing storied crew to San Diego
Next Article

Mustard turns hillsides yellow, Star Jasmine’s sweet perfume

Pleiades cluster hovers right below the waxing crescent moon
Families gather beneath Wing Howard’s whaling murals, back on display after decades behind plaster
Families gather beneath Wing Howard’s whaling murals, back on display after decades behind plaster

Whew. Something has been made right in La Jolla. For the last decade, everybody I’ve spoken to has talked as if a little piece of this town’s soul had been ripped out. A piece that used to make them feel that their neighborhood amounted to more than a tourism magnet or a luxury dormitory. And then, during a recent evening stroll down Prospect, the magic happened. “They’ve opened it back up!” said this elderly gentleman on the sidewalk outside The Pink Lady — La Valencia Hotel. He stood, looking awestruck at the bar. Oh wow. It’s The Whaling Bar. 



Last time I looked, The Whaling Bar was dead and buried. Some ten years ago, it was turned into the somewhat vapid Cafe La Rue. Big on expensive, small on lore. I counted it a loss. I had willingly drunk the Kool Aid on the old place’s romance. (My great great-great-granddaddy was a whaler, so I guess I was predisposed.) They had this 20-foot mural which I was pleased to see took the whale’s side of the story — or at least, there was some sympathy contained in the title: “The Whale’s Last Stand.” It was painted by Wing Howard, who tuned into the kinda literary notoriety that La Jolla’s own Rat Pack was giving the joint. Because, you think La Jolla, you think noir. Raymond Chandler was primus inter pares here, and he was beautifully noir in his writing. The Big Sleep. The Long Goodbye. Farewell, My Lovely. Not to mention Playback, his last novel, which is interesting on a local level, because he set it in Esmeralda, which was his code for La Jolla, where he lived the final years of his life. At this very bar, he drank, talked, and probably argued with his buddies, among them Gregory Peck and Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss himself). Other regulars dropping in here were probably too young for him: Jack Lemmon, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, and La Jolla luminaries like Jonas Salk (who, let’s remember, you anti-vaxxers, pretty-much saved humanity from polio with his vaccine), as well as Joan Kroc, and Sol Price, the Price Club founder. 


Place

Whaling Bar & Grill

1132 Prospect Street, San Diego

Sponsored
Sponsored



Chandler liked The Whaling Bar because a) this pretty cool group had the makings of a bona fide artists’ colony, b) a real artists’ colony, the Green Dragon, was situated right below the hotel, and c) he himself was a serious drinker who liked a serious bar. He said it himself: “I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean, and everything is shiny, and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight, and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back, and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening, and put it down on a crisp mat, and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar — that’s wonderful.”


La Valencia hotel opened in 1925. They created The Whaling Bar in 1949. It lasted 74 years, through 2013. Then, La Rue. But it turns out the town council petitioned the hotel to reopen The Whaling Bar, at least according to one manager on this night, which is — pure luck! — its soft opening. We’re surrounded by patches of Wing Howard‘s whaling mural, now broken up into four separate panels. Some folks are celebrating by ordering “The Whaler,” the joint’s signature cocktail of cognac, coffee liqueur, Irish whiskey and home-made ice cream. 


“Do you know what barstool Raymond Chandler actually sat on?” I ask. “No, but somewhere on that side of the room,” the manager says. “Doctor Seuss used to have a plaque in one of the booths. We want to put one back in. Gregory Peck used to be the artistic director for the theater in La Jolla. So all of his co-stars would come here. People are so interested, we did a whole staff training about the history of La Jolla. We’re very excited to see what people think of this vuelve a la vida.” Me, I think it’s grand.

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Mother, daughter try Goat Canyon trestles

What would we do if bit by rattlesnake?
Next Article

Narco wars spill more blood in Tijuana

But no slow down in foreign investment
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.