Over the years, the restaurant and bar has stood strong at its location along Pacific Beach’s main drag, witnessing many neighbors and nearby tenants come and go — all the while reining in a healthy following of regulars who patronized the legendary beach- and surf-themed restaurant day in and day out.
Now, Pacific Beach’s beloved neighborhood hub will close its doors and make way for a new generation of restaurateurs to carry on their own successful business at a location overflowing with good memories and steeped in tradition.
Brothers Doug and Craig Trenton — fun-loving, surf-going Pacific Beach natives — first built Longboard to pay tribute to their eldest brother, Ron “RT” Trenton, bringing to fruition a dream of Ron’s following his death in 1997.
“We built it in memory of our big brother, who was a senior lifeguard for La Jolla and was killed in a plane crash off Catalina [Island],” said Doug. “It was his dream that year, prior to the accident, to open a restaurant after he retired from the lifeguard service. When he didn’t live to do that, my brother and I decided we would do it in his memory.”
Doug and Craig had years of experience in the industry, working their way through college in restaurants, then becoming managers at two popular La Jolla establishments.
To reflect the brothers’ shared passion for the surf and pay homage to the natural beauty of Pacific Beach’s proximity to the ocean, the beach bar was themed in the spirit of the surf, with grass hut-style cabanas dotted throughout the restaurant, old surfboards adorning the rafters, and museum-worthy photographs and surf posters that tell the history of PB’s rich surf culture interwoven throughout the restaurant’s cedar-plank walls.
“The whole family, — we’re all surfers, — and nobody had the surf theme going on at restaurants 14 years ago,” said Doug. “Now, you go up and down the block and there’s boards hanging all over the place, but back then, no one was doing that.
“We had all this old stuff — old boards, old surfing posters, old pictures. We just started cutting them up, putting them in framing and placing them around the bar,” he said. “We just put it together as a beach theme, and it worked.”
In addition to signed memorabilia and historic photos from some of Longboards’ well-known visitors — like the cast of the reality TV show “Deadliest Catch,” where the final show of the season was filmed several years back — RT’s memory, too, is ingrained in the restaurant through photographs, trophies and even in the cedar-plank walls, which replicates the décor RT had in his own La Jolla home.
As a testament to the brothers’ success at creating an encouraging work environment, many of Longboard’s employees have been with the business almost since its inception.
“I actually have employees that go back a decade or more. Some have been with me practically from the start. That’s really rare in the business,” said Doug. “Incidentally, all of my employees will have the opportunity to work for the new owners, so we’re not kicking anybody out.”
Doug said the only employee losing a job is himself.
“I turned 65 this year and I’m looking forward to retirement,” he said.
In the next chapter of his life, Doug and his wife, a retired teacher, plan to travel around the U.S., visiting with their three grown children and grandchildren in Hawaii, Boston and Colorado.
“[Longboards] has become more successful than our wildest dreams,” said Doug. “We’ve had a good run here. It’s been a popular, fun place here all this time. We’ve been really blessed with all the successes of this business. It’s been phenomenal, but retirement is looking pretty good.”
Due to its popularity, the Trentons have always received a steady stream of offers from prospective buyers with hopes of moving in to its thriving location. This year, they got an offer from unnamed, established restaurateurs who have had success through a dozen other venues in Southern California.
“We’ve always been turning offers away — until this year,” said Trenton. “We got great tenants. They’re really a couple of great guys that promise a healthy future for this business. We gave them a nice long lease, and they look forward to making some changes, some renovations and basically carrying on.”
Meanwhile, the Pacific Beach community can look forward to changes at
1466 Garnet Ave. and the blossoming of a new restaurant with some big shoes to fill.
“I want to thank everyone for their support,” said Doug. “We really feel like when you open a new business, it’s a gamble. But we rolled the dice and won, and we’re very grateful for all the patrons over all these many years. It’s been a great time.”
LAST CHANCE FOR GAME DAY AT RT’S LONGBOARD ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
RT’s Longboard has been the local hangout for New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fans. “PB is a melting pot with all the college kids and we had two managers who were from New England. Several years ago, various bars and restaurants down the strip were picking up teams, and nobody was doing New England,” said owner Doug Trenton. Despite being a huge Chargers fan and resisting the New England movement for a long time, he finally succumbed to the pressure and opened the floodgates to the large presence of Pats and Red Sox fans living in San Diego, giving them a place to call home. “I’ve been teased about being a San Diego boy selling out to the Pats, but I will always be a Chargers fan,” emphasized Doug. “The Patriots fans pay for my Chargers tickets, so it works for me.” Although the Patriots were just shy of making it to the big game this year, Longboards will remain open through Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 3 for those hoping to catch the game. The bar will host $3 specials on Budweiser and Bud Light bottles, 20 percent off the entire bill for fans of the winning team, and the usual excitement and friendly rivalry that emanates from the place on football Sunday. “The excitement is at a fever pitch. Everybody is pumped up for the big game and there’s an excited crowd here,” said Doug. “We look forward to a good, clean game and friendly rivalry among fans, but we share in everyone’s excitement because the Super Bowl is obviously the biggest game of the year.” Longboards is located at 1466 Garnet Ave. For more information, visit www.longboardgrill.com or call (858) 270-4030.