Inside Bahooka (yes, that’s a real jail cell)

A post by Maynard

Los Angeles TAMs may want to experience this unique L.A. establishment before it’s gone. You have until March 10 to visit Bahooka Family Restaurant, on Rosemead Blvd. about a mile north of the 10, in the city of Rosemead.

Bahooka is one of those wonderful spots that time forgot. It’s like hanging out in Disneyland’s junkyard, in a cluttered-but-amiable dining room assembled from the scrap of old tiki rooms and water rides. Ordering drinks or a meal here is like dining inside the old Disneyland submarine; tables are completely surrounded by aquariums.

Bahooka is a family restaurant, family-friendly and fun, but with a full bar. The drinks come with little parasols and sometimes even flaming, just as God meant it to be. The food is not gourmet fare; anyone going for food alone will be disappointed. But the atmosphere is pure delight.

I was saddened to read the terrible news.

Known for its Tiki atmosphere and collection of tropical fish, the fabled Bahooka on Rosemead Boulevard will serve its last rum-soaked mai-tai next month, Steve Twigg, a restaurant employee, confirmed Friday.

A fixture in Rosemead since 1967, the themed restaurant, dark except for the glow of its multitudinous fish tanks, has been the site of many a clandestine hook-up and more than a few first dates over the years.

Why are we losing this wonderful restaurant? Read on…

“It’s pretty much a miracle we made it this far,” Twigg said. “We survived a whole lot of presidents, just not this one. With all that’s changing we just knew we couldn’t make it through a second Obama term.”

A table at Bahooka, surrounded by aquariums

I knew it! Obama’s fault again!

The Los Angeles Magazine announcement conveys the magnitude of the tragedy.

No! No! No! This can’t be happening. Bahooka, the most lavish, bizarre and wonderful restaurant ever built in Los Angeles (did I mention the drinks are served on fire and in salad bowls?) will be gone by next month. The massive labyrinth of flotsam and jetsam, filled with hundreds of blue glowing fish tanks, tikis. street signs, plastic birds, and a jail cell, will close its doors on March 10th after 46 years in business. The first Bahooka opened in my hometown of West Covina but was just a tiny guppy compared to the full majesty of the Rosemead location, which sold after just one day on the market. “They don’t want tiki around here, they want Asian,” says co-owner Suzanne Schneider. “The new owner just wants the building, the liquor license and the fish.” Schneider would not sell the Bahooka name as she plans to sell a line of salad dressing through Costco. A sick relative caused her to act quickly to dispose of the beloved restaurant. Schneider is planning a going away party on March 10th.

Hmmm. So an alternate theory is it’s not Obama’s fault, but simply family illness and changing tastes driven by changing demographics. (Which would still be the fault of Obamacare and an open border…but let’s not go there.)

I hope the new owner doesn’t put the pet fish on the menu. (I’m JOKING, people!)

So until the end, get some of that good old Bahooka while you can. And I’m not the only one recommending this; check the Yelp ratings. Everyone loves this place except snobbish gourmets.

The official website (which hasn’t been updated to reflect the closure) is

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2 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. Alain41 says:

    A family restaurant near me, Roy’s Place, recently closed after 50-some years. It’s menu was 200 sandwiches of everything. It closed because of lack of business due to the economy not because times/other restaurants had passed it by. Disposable income is dried up and the effect will continue, possibly snowball. If it had been passed over for other restaurants then the laid off staff could find jobs at the other places, here I’m afraid it’s unemployment with few prospects.

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