The Manhattan Beach Bar Was Once the Home of the Kings and Hit Its Peak During the ’93 Stanley Cup Final
There’s LA Live and in the South Bay Beach Cities – home to many of the team’s players and even its coach – there’s the North End.
But when it comes to watching the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final, no current bar comes close to the legendary Harry O’s in Manhattan Beach in 1993.
Harry O’s, an unspectacular looking place in a spectacular setting, was the unofficial home of the Kings players during hockey season. Because the team trained (and still does) about 10 minutes away in El Segundo, many players chose to live in Manhattan Beach, the somewhat upscale but still quite beachy community just south of LAX. The Forum, where the team played at the time, was a mere 15-20 minute drive, even accounting for LA traffic.
The Kings used Harry O’s as their home base. They were there after home games and often brought in players from visiting teams to have a few beers with them. They also went to meet and mingle with the local ladies, who filled the place eager for the prospect of hooking up with a professional athlete.
The girls would arrive during the third period, about two hours ahead of the players. That was around 10 o’clock and it also happened to be when the mere mortal men from the area would roll in – one of Harry O’s main qualities was that it was one of the South Bay’s all-time pick-up places – and the guys would immediately strike up what appeared to be encouraging conversations with these girls.
Alas, the girls were just having a few drinks until the line change; when the hockey players came in they went straight for them, leaving their former potential suitors faster than a puck shot at a goalie. (If the girls were turned away by the players, which happened more often than you might think for various reasons, the tables suddenly turned back in favor of these men. The girls had gone there to score and if they couldn’t do it with the front line, they often settled for the second or third line, to to speak. Astute men quickly leaned how to play this game. I do speak from experience on this matter.)
But for all its benefits during the regular season, things really heated up at Harry O’s when the Kings did what seemed impossible: They made the Stanley Cup Final. Suddenly, all those people who paid little attention to the players while they were in uniform became instant fans. The year was 1993 and THE place to watch the games was Harry O’s.
Harry O’s was so popular, it was even featured in Sports Illustrated. A photo showed people sitting in beach chairs and on the floor. “The LA sports bar crowd was laid back,” the caption to the photo read. See the photo here.
Unfortunately, due to a work assignment, I was out of town – in Cleveland – during part of the Final and had to miss what turned out to be the critical moment in the series, the infamous “crooked stick” game of Marty McSorley. It had to be him, of course, for McSorley lived on Marine Street, a quarter-mile walk down the beach from the bar.
This was the zenith of Harry O’s, which went on to claim even greater fame as the hot hangout during the 2002 Winter Olympics after it opened a second branch in Salt Lake City.
The focus and attention on that Harry O’s eventually led management to depart Manhattan Beach. It became several other bars – one, the forgettable Reactor, painted the exterior all black and told locals to stay away, that they wanted the Hollywood and not the beach crowd, and of course that lasted all of three months – and eventually upgraded to the Upper Manhattan martini bar.
It is now Sharkeez Upper Manhattan. It’s a fine place, a worthy successor to Harry O’s.
But nothing can replace those great nights when it was the king of bars for the LA Kings.