Somebody once said "History is a consensus hallucination."
They were probably referring to the history of The Reel Inn.

While we know that the building has existed in its current
location since at least 1947, as evidenced in the
photograph at right, the rest of the history has been
passed down through former employees, mostly bartenders…
like Ralph O'Hara.

Current owner Andy Leonard interviewed O'Hara by phone
back in 2001. His first remembered history begins with
the restaurant being called Marino's (or The Zoo) back
in the 1950's. It was then a Mexican restaurant owned by
a gay couple. Enter one 6'3" - 430 lb. retired wrestler from the east coast
who went by the name "Fat Jack McGurk" by night, and "Fat Jack" Borfona at his day job.

O'Hara described how he'd heard that McGurk muscled the couple out of Marino's and became their partner in the
aptly renamed El Gordo's (1962/63). When the couple finally cut and ran, Fat Jack changed the name to The Raft
(1964), and hired O'Hara as bartender. Fat Jack was later killed at Big Rock.

In 1967, the restaurant was sold to Jim McDonald and remained The Raft until it closed in 1977. McDonald
then opened The Sandcastle at Paradise Cove.

O'Hara had many stories of Hollywood's young guns who frequented The Raft, Lee Marvin in particular.

The "great fire" that everyone cites as the end of the Raft/Reel in August 1978 that "burned the building to the
ground," was actually outside and only damaged a dance floor, a shed and a bar for a total of $3,000 damage (and a
Honda motorcycle worth $500). There was no damage to the building at all.

If you know anything about the history of The Reel Inn, click over to the Contact Page and please tell us about it.
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