Doug Krikorian / Viewpoint

The Creator Of Two Iconic Long Beach Dining Establishments, Schooner Or Later and Tantalum, LB Bachelor Denny Lund Also Has Been A Creator Of Glad Times

Mr. Krikorian, an award winning journalist and author of two books, earned multiple awards in his 22 years of writing for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and 22 years for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He is happily retired.

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(Mar 16, 2021, 5:25 p.m.) -- Meet Mr. Denny Lund, a Long Beach native who spends one weekend a month in Puerto Vallarta visiting his girlfriend and speeding around the waterways in his 32-foot Donzi powerboat and who spends two or three weekends a month at his home in Indian Wells where he plays golf with his pals and spends the rest of his time residing at his condominium at Marina Pacifica in LB where he often can be seen tooling around Alamitos Bay in his 28-foot Chris Craft powerboat with his pals and lady companions.

Denny Lund sipping madras as he holds court at Schooner Or Later

Denny Lund having lunch with girlfriend, Martha Rodriguez, on the beach in Puerto Vallarta

When he isn't engaging in such joyful activities, he can be found seated at a table overseeing proceedings at two of his celebrated LB restaurants -- during the day at the wildly popular Schooner Or Later on Marina Drive in front of the Alamitos Bay Marina and at night at the architecturally idyllic Tantalum in the Marina Pacifica Mall with its dazzling view of Alamitos Bay.

Mr. Lund always seems to be surrounded by friends -- and no doubt lives a frenetic daily existence that belies his chronological arc of 72 years.

Indeed, Denny Lund -- a 1967 Millikan High graduate who later earned a BA from Long Beach State -- can often be found outdoors at Schooner during the day in a straw hat sipping madras and indoors at night at Tantalum surrounded by loyalists sipping Don Julio Tequila Reposado and also on occasion retiring for sleep at sunrise.

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It's been said about Mr. Lund that he has a good head on his shoulders -- a different one each night -- and that if he were a sheik with a harem that he still would have a girl on the side.

But Mr. Lund himself scoffs at such quips, although he does concede he has lived life at a breakneck speed even when he didn't have the sources to subsidize his genteel tastes

"I've lived a champagne life on a beer income," he says.

Not really.

You must understand Denny Lund does have a good head on his shoulders -- an entrepreneurial one with a keen visionary knack that has resulted in his long engaging in an upscale lifestyle.

I mean, one of his countless friends, the Food Channel's Emmy Award winning Guy Fieri, featured Schooner Or Later in a January, 2009 episode on his show --- and Mr. Fieri later was quoted as saying his favorite restaurant in California is Schooner Or Later.

"Obviously, that was as nice a comment you can receive," says Mr. Lund.

Not surprising.

There isn't much doubt that Schooner Or Later has become the busiest breakfast/lunch outlet in Southern California -- its myriad servings are extraordinary -- as the usual weekend wait time for dozens of customers exceeds an hour and a half. And there is no place that sells more champagne (the waiting customers have found the quickest way to pass the time is consuming an alcoholic beverage or two).

What is so strange about Denny Lund is that he never had passionate ambitions to get into the restaurant business in his younger days.

For eight years, he was a Long Beach lifeguard -- most of it served at 64th Place on The Peninsula -- although he did while in high school work as a dishwasher at the long-gone Farha's Coffee Shop on 2nd Street and served ice cream nearby at Fosters Freeze.

When he was 21, he applied for a waiter's job at the old Hindquarter -- it's where the Naples Rib Company is now -- and suddenly found himself as the assistant general manager.

"Didn't know a damned thing about the restaurant business other than how to wash dishes," says Mr. Lund.

He soon implausibly became the GM after the other one got into a fist fight with the owner and was fired---and suddenly he found himself in command of 20 employees.

"I began doing everything at the Hindquarter -- bartend, wait on tables, wash dishes, you name it, I did it except cook."

He remained at the Hindquarter for three years, but finally departed when his side businesses -- buying and selling exotic cars and flipping homes in real estate -- began earning him a decent income.

"I actually had a real estate office for a time at 4th and Ximeno," he says.

But a tragic occurrence transpired in the summer of 1981 that would dramatically impact his life when his father, a legendary Long Beach policeman named Lloyd Lund, was killed in a motorcycle accident on the 405 Freeway near Euclid in Huntington Beach.

"I was very, very close to may dad...I looked up to him fondly and he was my hero," says Denny Lund with emotion. "He was a larger-than-life character who was a dedicated weightlifter. His death tore me up, and I think it had a negative impact on me for three years. I began goofing around too much and not caring about my businesses."

But one afternoon he was having lunch at a greasy spoon called The Little Ship's Gallery -- he often ate there with his father -- and he looked outside and saw the huge unoccupied patio in front of it and the scenic marina next to it.

"I had a sudden epiphany," he said.

Mr. Lund and a friend eventually would buy the business after six months of attempting to persuade the owner to sell it to them -- and it was renamed Schooner Or Later when it opened in the summer of 1984.

"At first there were no tables outside -- and the first three we put out there were aluminum ones," he says. "I soon bought out my friend -- he had to relocate to San Diego where his wife got a big job. And soon we filled the patio with tables --- and the place really then took off.''

Naturally, as are all people with capitalistic leanings, he sought another enterprise, which wound up being Tantalum, which was built on the site of a long-closed saloon called Houlihan's at the end of the Marina Pacifica Mall.

"Houlihan's had been closed for seven years when I got involved," says Mr. Lund. "Its bar was located in the middle of the restaurant with no view of Alamitos Bay. I spent three million dollars renovating the place, and the bar I built overlooked the bay. It was a big hit with our customers."

Tantalum, with its eclectic food, its stylish ambiance and its bay views, opened in 2005 -- and also has been a stirring success.

I first met Denny Lund at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, where he seemed to be on a first name basis with all the waitresses and where he had bought a home in 1975 that overlooked the restaurant in the nearby Mystic Hills area.

I had no idea who he was, but remember thinking to myself how he always seemed to be having fun on the occasions I came across him.

And nothing has changed all these years later.

He has his lady friend in Puerto Vallarta -- her name is Martha Rodriquez -- and he has his very own entourage that includes guys named Steve Brock, Neil Gold, Jeff Severson, Bernie (The Prince of Tabs) Selmanson and, when he is awake, John Narz.

His life is rife with jokes -- he's prolific at telling them -- and laughter and bogeys and air flights and overseeing his restaurants and always, always conviviality.

"I look at my life as being blessed to having an eternal Disneyland E-ticket," he says with a laugh.

"How have you avoided the calamity of marriage?" I wondered.

"My only marriage vow is never to take one," he says with his usual wit. "I'd prefer to have loved and lost to getting up for the 2 a.m. feedings..."

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.

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