Popular beachside establishment Gladstones, which turns 50 next year, is known for its fresh seafood menu and has the largest patio for outdoor dining on the Malibu coast.

Iconic restaurant celebrates the past, present and future

By Kamala Kirk

Open since 1972, Gladstones restaurant is a Southern California landmark and institution that has stood the test of time. Owned by former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, the popular beachside establishment in the Pacific Palisades has built a reputation for high-quality food, excellent service and its commitment to the community.

When COVID-19 first occurred, the restaurant and hospitality industries were immediately impacted, and Gladstones was forced to close its doors for two weeks, which turned into three months.

“At the beginning of 2020 we were off to an amazing start, business was booming and we were poised to have a very successful year,” said Jim Harris, general manager of Gladstones. “Upon shutting down, we actually thought there was a chance we would not reopen.”

A few months after initially closing its doors, Gladstones was ready to reopen and rebuild. When the CDC announced that restaurants could only operate outdoors, Gladstones – which has the largest outdoor patio for dining on the Malibu Coast complete with an outdoor bar – was able to continue serving customers and worked hard to maintain a sense of normalcy for guests and employees.
“Despite fires, floods, El Ninos and global pandemics, somehow Gladstones refuses to give up,” Harris said. “The world has changed a lot, but we continue to embrace the tradition and legacy of hospitality, Southern California style!”
While gearing up for Thanksgiving last year with hundreds of reservations booked, things started to close down again, but this time Gladstones decided to remain open through the shutdown and launched its successful Bring Your Own Blanket (BYOB) program.
“Guests would pick up their meals at the entrance and picnic at the beach out front,” Harris said. “Staying open was really helpful as it allowed us to pivot back to full service when they surprisingly reopened the world in February. Since then, we have been following all of the local and state health ordinances and protocols, and making the best of the situation. We were thrilled to have the support of our friends and fans throughout the pandemic. Now as we are on the verge of returning to a normal life this summer, it is our pleasure to serve the community that has supported us through thick and thin!”

Gladstones’ fresh seafood has always been its hallmark, and a decades-long relationship with Santa Monica Seafood and other purveyors gives the restaurant access to the freshest and most ethically sourced products for guests. From Raw Bar Towers piled high with shrimp and shellfish to steaks, chicken and many delicious vegetable options, Gladstones’ menu has something for everyone to enjoy.

“A staple for our longtime guests is the Gladstones’ clambake with crab legs, lobster, linguica sausage, seasonal vegetables and a bushel of clams served family style in a large steamer pot,” Harris said. “This dish really takes you back to a simpler time here on the golden California coast.”

Aside from making it through the pandemic stronger than ever, Gladstones has much to celebrate. 2022 will mark the restaurant’s 50-year anniversary, and to kick off Memorial Day this year, Gladstones will host its third Annual Oceanfest on May 29 from 3 p.m. to sundown. The event is family-friendly and free for the entire community, and will be held on the restaurant’s new extended patio. Event sponsors include Gilly’s American Lager, and Gladstones will feature tropical tiki drinks showcasing Diplomatico Rum. In addition to live entertainment, full food and drink menus will be served throughout the day with tropical specials to complement the occasion.

“Enjoy a Pina Colada served in a coconut or a Mai Tai served in a pineapple by the fire in our Tiki Garden dubbed the “rum haven” for the sunny months ahead,” Harris said. “We will be featuring surf rock aficionados The Royal Rats as they bring their sunny vibes to Sunset Beach, and there may be a few surprise guests along the way, like members of the LA Giltinis Major League Rugby team and their Gilly Girls cheerleading squad!”

Gladstones is also unveiling its latest run of newly branded apparel on Memorial Day, which will include plenty of soft, comfy sweatshirts and retro colors to help guests remember their time at the beach. The process of creating a new logo was truly a collaborative process that included the help of several employees and friends. Photographer Shane Selsnick, a young Gladstones employee, shot a picture of Truey Reise, another team member, riding a wave out front with Malibu in the background.

“We have the good fortune to have some of the nicest team members ever who went to the local schools and grew up surfing the point out front,” Harris pointed out. “We call them the

‘Beach Boys’ and they are a pleasure to have on the team. Shane is a talented photographer and certified Gladstones legacy. His grandfather, Gene Selsnick, was a volleyball legend and ran the parking lot out front in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Shane’s dad, Dane, is an Olympic beach volleyball coach who trains future hopefuls in Santa Monica. We have taken the image that Shane took and made it our symbol of the past and the present, coming together to give us positive energy as we move into the future.”

Harris added that the incredible team at Gladstones is the other big reason why the business has continued to thrive year after year for almost half a century.

“The people that make this venture possible include our managers Alex Peniston, Paul Williams, Vivian Escamilla and Felipe Ortega,” Harris shared. “Our tireless and passionate chefs: Juan Aquino, Eric Velasquez, Rolando Mejia and Benjamin Diosdado, as well as an amazing group of servers, bartenders, bussers, runners, cooks and dishwashers, many of whom have been here for decades. Most importantly, we would be nowhere without our team captain and fearless leader, Richard J. Riordan. His love of this city and the community that Gladstones represents is unparalleled. Thank you, Mayor!”

For more information, visit gladstones.com