Thursday, May 30, 2024

Queen Mary’s beloved Observation Bar & Chelsea Chowder Bar reopen; Sir Winston’s reopening pushed to 2024

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The Queen Mary continues her command to have more patrons aboard her decks as the art deco masterpiece that is The Observation Bar and one of the ships most cherished food halls, the window-lined Chelsea Chowder Bar, have officially reopened for business as folks are wondering about The Queen Mary Hotel reopening.

The bar, which opened over the weekend, and the restaurant, which opened the previous weekend, hav been staples for tourists and local visitors alike, particularly the former: With construction finished in the mid-1930s—highlighted by an imperialist-loving mural over the crescent sweep of the bar by A.R. Thomson dubbed “The Royal Jubilee Week,” a depiction of the 25th anniversary of the reign of King George V and Queen Mary—the bar is rife with art deco details that make guests genuinely feel like they’ve escaped to the past.

While the bar has certainly been cleaned up, perhaps of boldest note is the fact that the observation deck attached to the bar, along with the gun deck below it, have had its teak flooring restored entirely.

The bar was not always an “art deco masterpiece:” It acted as a dormitory when the ship was used as a troopship during World War II and then was briefly returned to its art deco glory—albeit with a linoleum floor—up until the 1960s. When it arrived in Long Beach, the new owners opted to go thematic over classic, applying a theme dubbed “Ye Olde English Age of Sail” to the Observation Bar (which coincided with that odd hodgepodge of old English architecture buildings in the parking lot as part of the attraction to the ship itself).

It wasn’t until 2007—after Disney sold the ship and the bar had undergone multiple iterations—that the space was returned to its art deco model (though not also met with its criticism: a botched paint job nearly destroyed the Thomson mural while guests would photograph drips of paint everywhere).

The bar’s new menu includes of-the-time classics—like Derbys and Grasshoppers—along with updated things like a gin-basil smash and espresso martinis, as well as some small bites plates that include buffalo pork ribs with whipped gorgonzola dolce and corned beef sliders.

Sir Winston’s, the equally-cherished fine dining space toward the rear of the ship, will not be opening until 2024.

This marks a warmly-welcomed news bite of positivity following the ship’s disastrous handling across the past decade: The cherished icon has been a challenge to operate—and that is putting it lightly, with a 2017 study recommending renovations and upgrades stacking up to $289 million. According to a trove of court documents and inspection reports released in 2021, the Queen Mary needed $23 million in immediate repairs to prevent it from potentially capsizing.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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