Iconic Swordfish sign disappears from Sunset Beach

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Watercolor of Sam’s Seafood Sign (which was later changed to Don’s) by Bill Anderson

If you drive down Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll notice the famous neon swordfish is missing from the roof of the old Sam’s Seafood/Don the Beachcomber/Himalayan Grill restaurant site in Sunset Beach. For more than 60 years, from its perch 50 feet above the ground, it has been a symbol of Sunset Beach. On Saturday (Jan. 16th), somebody took it down. 

The iconic sign has resurfaced in Cypress at Lace Music Products, owned by Don and Jeff Lace. The Laces say they are restoring the sign and “have plans to bring it back to life in a big way!”

“The swordfish sign has been a symbol to Sunset Beach’s residents and a location marker for drivers heading to San Diego or Los Angeles since the 1930s, when the original location of Sam’s was in Seal Beach at 2501 Coast Highway (where The Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station sits),” said Huntington Beach City Historian Jerry Person. “In 1960, the restaurant owners moved to Sunset Beach, bringing with them the Swordfish sign. Over those 80+ years it had become known to many generations of locals and visitors alike. Today, the Himalayan Grill occupies the location.”

“In 1963, I moved here from Minnesota for my first teaching job in Long Beach. Before the school year started, there was a faculty dinner at Sam’s Seafood. What a fantastic place!,” said Sunset Beach Artist Bill Anderson. “The first painting I did of Sunset Beach was of Sam’s–the building and swordfish. What a terrific landmark for this unique community. The swordfish and nearby water tower are the two main symbols of Sunset Beach. I’m really sorry that the neon fish is no longer there. It’s such an important part of Sunset Beach’s rich history. It would look great on top of the Community Center. It belongs here!”

“I’m so sad to see the sign missing,” said Patrick Brenden, CEO of the Bolsa Chica Conservancy. “I think most of us were hoping Sam’s Seafood might one day come back in an updated form but apparently that’s not to be.”

“Sam’s Seafood was a special place for my wife and me as we had our wedding reception there in 1978,” said former Sunset Beach Community Association President Mike Van Voorhis.

Lace Music Products has started a Facebook page to document the restoration of the sign. A video of the sign being taken down has been posted.

Search for Don’s Sign on Facebook to find the page.