Here’s A Few Tips For Making The Former Chiller’s A Beach Cities Hotspot Again
As much fun as it is to go to the bars on the Hermosa Beach Pier to watch sports, sometimes it’s good to go someplace different. Break up the routine. Keep things fresh.
So on a sunny Saturday afternoon, wanting to maximize my time on the Strand and being in the great outdoors, I rode my beach cruiser past the Hermosa Pier – bypassing Sharkeez, American Junkie, Patrick Molloy’s, Watetrman’s and the area’s other temptations – to head to Redondo Beach.
I was going not to Naja’s, the gritty bar underneath the bike path on the Pier, but to a place by the small, old wooden pier in the King Harbor parking lot. My destination was off the beaten path, On The Rocks. This bar has all the games, a big beer selection, good enough food and is on the water.
When you’re not looking at the TVs, in fact, you can look at the Redondo Harbor’s channel. During commercial breaks, it’s great to step outside on the front patio and soak up this spectacular scenery.
Inside, the layout is good enough that you can watch two, three or even four or more games from the same spot.
Plus, the waitresses are spunky and a couple are even “Hermosa hot.”
It’s also as empty as a floating keg at a house party. And that’s a shame because it has such potential as a great South Bay sports bar.
Several singles live in and around the Redondo Pier and down to Riviera Village and don’t always want to have to go all the way to Hermosa to watch games in a lively place. Other than the grungy Naja’s, the Redondo Pier offers them no choices. Like a wide open receiver waving his arms in the end zone while his quarterback scrambles from the rush, On The Rocks is right there waiting to be discovered.
There was a time when this location was the most happening place in the South Bay. It was known as Chiller’s then, and on Sunday afternoons locals would pack the patio and get wasted on strong frozen drinks that churned away in vertical blenders behind the bar.
Alas, such good things never last forever, and eventually the crowd deteriorated – locals started calling the patio “San Quentin” – the place closed, changed hands a couple of times and, well, now it’s On The Rocks.
All that in the past, a couple of friends who live in Redondo joined me to check it out as a potential Hermosa Pier alternative to watching college football. My alma mater was on a secondary channel – KDOC in Orange County shows SEC games – and while the waitress was confused, the bartender was not. He was quick with the clicker.
This is very always much appreciated and is a good sign for the bar. If a bar or restaurant can quickly take care of customers’ needs, customers will be quick to return to the place.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve been to bars to ask about putting on a game, only to have to ask repeatedly, then have to seek out other employees or even track down a manager. That was not the case at On The Rocks; they were on the ball even as games ended and other ones started.
They also play sound for USC and UCLA games, a bonus for fans of those schools.
Again, it has potential. But no crowd.
Here’s some suggestions to get On The Rocks off the rocks with the local crowd:
• Have Drink Specials During The Games. The Longboard Lagers are $5, which is a fair price. But from 3-7, even on weekends, I can get this fine beer for $3 at American Junkie. Sharkeez has huge cups of Bud and Bud Light for $3.75 during college and pro games. On The Rocks needs to have drink and food specials during games. It should also consider something like $1 off beers and drinks when the Dodgers and Lakers play to attract people on a year-round basis.
To be fair, for Thursday and Monday Night NFL games it does feature $1 Bud Light drafts in the first quarter, $2 in the second quarter, $3 well drinks in the third quarter and $4 call drinks in the fourth quarter. Plus a steak dinner for $10.99 that includes a domestic draft. But what about Saturdays?
• Do A Drink Promotion When A Team Scores Or Wins. At Sharkeez, shots go on special when USC scores. American Junkie takes 50% off an individual’s entire tab if they are wearing a shirt or jersey of the winning team during Monday Night Football. Junkie also tosses out Jell-O shots to everyone every time Michigan and Arizona State scores a touchdown, as alumni from those schools watch their games at that bar. On the Rocks should implement a similar drink-and-score/win promotion.
• Tidy Up The Place. The outside walls by the front patio are dirty and faded, the windows need washing, the deck needs scrubbing and the inside floor resurfacing. These are all small measures that would do wonders for the place and help attract people inside who are outside for the Friday night classic car show or are cruising by on bikes, as is common on weekends.
• Spruce Up The Bathrooms. It was always a “wait until you really have to go” situation at Chller’s because nobody wanted to go into those messy bathrooms. Things haven’t improved much with On the Rocks. Something as simple as a coat of paint, at least in the men’s room, would do wonders. For the girls, make it nice and inviting. If girls feel comfortable going into a bathroom in a bar, they will feel comfortable going to the bar in the first place. As a guide to the prefect women’s restroom, go see out what Steve has done at OB’s in Manhattan Beach.
• Put Soft Music On The Deck. On the Rocks actually has two decks, a small one with tables looking at the channel and a fairly large one to the side. (It has no ocean view and by the way, if I were in charge of the place with an unlimited budget, I would make the entire front part of the bar a huge deck looking out over the water while moving the inside section to the rear of the property.)
When Chiller’s was in its party prime, there was live music on the site patio. It was usually just a guy with a guitar and an amp, but eventually it turned into a pumping DJ, and that’s when the crowd went south (well East, actually), neighbors complained and, well, Chillers had to chill out considerably.
But why not put a singer out there with a guitar performing subtle hits or original tunes? There are tons of talented musicians in the South Bay and this could be a showcase for them. A steel drum band would also be really cool and would draw in Redondo’s substantial sailing community.
I’ll go back to On The Rocks to watch games a time or two this season. The question is: Will anyone other than a couple local friends who live up the street be there with me?
On The Rocks is located at 239 North Harbor Drive in Redondo Beach’s King Harbor.
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