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The Whaling Bar Closes

Last Call At Iconic Cocktail Longe

Evening Edition

Above: Saying goodbye to The Whaling Bar.

Aired 2/14/13 on KPBS News.

The Whaling Bar at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla had regulars like Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and writer Raymond Chandler. But the Hotel wants to do some renovations and this Valentine’s Day will be the last chance patrons have to visit the cocktail lounge.

The Whaling Bar at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla had regulars like Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and writer Raymond Chandler. But the Hotel wants to do some renovations and this Valentine’s Day will be the last chance patrons have to visit the cocktail lounge.

San Diego CityBeat writer D.A. Kolodenko was drawn to the Whaling Bar back in the 1980s

"I knew a lot of famous writers used to hang out here people like Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal and… of course Raymond Chandler the famous author of detective novels like the Long Good Bye and Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler lived in La Jolla and loved the Whaling Bar and used to come here and drink gimlets."

The Whaling Bar at the La Valencia Hotel has been an icon for some 6 decades. In addition to the famous celebrities who drank in the cozy booths, Wing Howard created murals for the bar in exchange for drinks, and artist Raul Guerrero paid tribute to the bar in a series of paintings. The bar also created a celebrity of its own in Rey Arcibal.

"I work at the La Valencia Hotel for 52 years. I’m a bartender. I started here when I was 26."

"What attracts me to this bar is Rey, Rey is truly as his name says, he’s a ray of sunshine. He is dedicated, devoted, a true expert in his area," Fran Nighswonger is a patron who says we will be losing two icons: the bar and Rey.

Arcibal says that in the decades he's been working at the bar there haven't been many changes, which is part of the bar's appeal. Not many changes that is until the recent decision to close the bar for major renovations.

"I’m a little bit more sentimental about it," admits Arcibal, "It kind of hurt my feelings because I’m not the only one, a lot of people they like to see the old ways as they used to be and it’s not just the old people even the younger ones like age 40, 50, they like to see the same thing."

According to a press release from the hotel, "Plans call for opening up the two spaces and creating one grander venue. Café La Rue will include a larger bar, a signature wine vault and will maximize the architecture of the circa 1926 building by incorporating features of the captivating palm shaded patio as part of the dining experience."

Kolodenko mourns the passing of the bar and some San Diego history: "With the passing of this bar we lose all of the history of this bar. Not only these beautiful lamps and booths and fixtures and the excellent servers who have worked here for multiple decades it’s not only all of the trappings of the whaling bar that we lose because it’s closing it’s because we lose an era and our connection to that era."

This Valentine's Day will be the last call at teh famous bar and your last chance to say good bye to bartender Rey Arcibal.

Here's the website that was set up to save The Whaling Bar and information on its signature drink "The Whaler" that Arcibal invented. The one thing that will be saved are the paintings and mural by Wing Howard.

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