Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tee Pee Barbeque - Long Beach

My family has a lot of interesting history in California, mainly Southern California as I am the only family member (not including my nephews) born up north. With this history comes some unique people on both sides. One in particular on my dad’s side is who I called GG (great grandma) of Grandma Mac (short for MacPherson). She came out west to break into the movies without any luck but she did play piano for silent films as well as hang around the Hollywood circles, spending much of her time at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. She was a total flapper in the 20s. Quite a character, but definitely not always in a good way.  I sure loved her but am glad I do not know all that went on.

GGs second husband was a restaurant owner. He ran what began as the Tee Pee Barbeque on East 2nd Street in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach. Apparently some Hollywood stars used to frequent the place. Years ago while I was working retail at a shop called Happy Trails I was excited to find it included in the book California Crazy and Beyond by Jim Heimann about wacky roadside architecture.

pre-WWII photo

Another restaurant venture for GG’s husband also in Long Beach was MacPherson’s Fried Chicken. It was originally MacPherson’s Drive-In with a giant burger on top of the building. The burger and the entire place was then painted plaid and the giant burger became a massive tam-o-shanter. So awesome!  LA List posted some great old restaurant postcards from the area here, including one of MacPherson's Drive-In.

the pre-tartan days...
And thanks to the Belmont Shore website's history section, I now have interior photos of the Tee Pee that I never saw before!

The Tee Pee Barbeque was later changed to a Chinese restaurant called the Shangri La and unfortunately did not have the same success as before. I am lucky enough to have a couple of plates from the Chinese restaurant as well as some original photographs of the Tee Pee which are somewhere in my parents' attic.

plates from the Shangri La

I just found out that on my mom's side, her grandparents had a grocery store on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore in the 1930s after they arrived in California in 1932.

Among other stories, my other great grandparents on my mom’s side owned some sort of tractor rental business in Orange County that helped in the building of Disneyland (so of course my mom got to go right when it opened as a little girl). Those same great grandparents had orange groves and lived on the same land forever (my great grandmother lived to be 100, passing in the late 1990s). They were friends with many prominent families of the day, including the Knott family. Yep, the same Knott family as in Knott’s Berry Farm.

Unfortunately, just about all of our family from down south that we used to visit has passed away except for an uncle and a couple of cousins. At least I got to know them while they were around and have many fond memories from our family trips down that way every year.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! If only those places were still around...

    2. Word! I've been trying to find something on the bar my grandma owned in LA... I think it was called the Three Coins but my dad can't remember even though he worked there (too many drugs!) Stoked you were able to locate so many pics!

    3. Hello, I do believe we are related. My greatgrandmother was the same woman. My mothers fathers mother! I believe her name was Grace. But I have the history of the TeePee Resturant in our family as my gg's husband, MacPherson, had a son named Chet and my mother thinks the other was Bob. I do know that the MacPhersons also made the wonderful ice creams, square, dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts at the LA County Fair. My name is Suzzi Doke, my mothers maiden name was Bestwick, Lester was my mothers father.

    4. Hello there! My great grandmother's name was Dorothy and she was actually his second wife so sadly I do not think we are related. She was the mother of my dad's mother. She did not start the restaurant with him and I am not too sure how happy the family was about her. I let my mom know about your reply since she remembers more about family stuff than my dad and she did say that my dad worked at the ice cream stand at the fair one year (he is Don Finck, Dorothy's grandson via her first marriage) and that my uncle might have as well (Bruce Finck). She also thinks the stand is still going since she says my Uncle spoke to one of the grandchildren at the fair a few years ago. So neat to find out about that! Thanks so much for sharing, Suzzi!

  2. Great story. Love the history of LA! Alegedly, my great grandparents were also involved with the TeePee. Not exactly sure of the details, but my grandmother was attending Roosevelt Junior High at the time of the 1933 earthquake. Thank you for you stories and information.


    1. Interesting! I think my Great Grandma came in towards the end probably since she was the second wife. She was probably more involved with the business when they converted to a Chinese restaurant. If anything I’m sure our families knew each other! What I would give to have gotten to check out the Tee Pee Barbeque in person. Too bad so much of that stuff was destroyed but thankfully a lot of great places are left!