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Having a ballroom

June 03, 2005

Greer Wylder

The Balboa Pavilion is Newport's center for coastal recreation. The

historic, Victorian-style building accommodates services for harbor

cruises, fishing and the Catalina ferry service. It's also adjacent

to the 1930s-era Fun Zone, a nostalgic waterfront amusement park with

arcades, a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round.

Now the Pavilion also has a major dining destination with the

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rebirth of its restaurant, the contemporary Harborside and

beautifully renovated Grand Ballroom for weddings and parties.

Built in 1905, the Pavilion is on the National Register of

Historical Places. The Pavilion once housed a terminal for the

Pacific Electric Red Car Line, which in its heyday was part of the

world's largest trolley system.

During the '30s and '40s, the Pavilion was the first stop for

teenagers traveling to Balboa's main attraction, the Rendezvous

Ballroom, Southern California's in spot during the swing era. Big

bands performed at the Rendezvous until 1966, when it was destroyed

by fire. The Pavilion also housed a bowling alley, a dance hall and

even public baths.

In recent years, it's been a waterfront dining and banquet

facility for Christmas boat-parade spectators, wedding attendees,

locals and out-of-town guests.

Last year, brothers and co-owners David and Doug Salisbury

replaced the Pavilion's aging 32-year-old Tale of The Whale

restaurant and banquet room with the Harborside, which serves

breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers live entertainment. They also

renovated the upstairs Grand Ballroom, which encompasses two rooms --

each large enough for 250 guests -- that can be transformed into one

giant room for 500.

The ballroom best suits large parties. Plans for a semi-private

dining room for groups of 25 to 30 are underway.

Three-quarters of the rooms have wood floors for dancing. Each

room has a private entrance that can accommodate live entertainment,

and has spectacular harbor views.

During the renovation, the Salisburys respected the integrity of

the building.

"Our goal was to maintain the history here," David Salisbury said.

"We installed the same woods, perforated tin ceilings and wainscot

that the rooms once had."

Photos of a bygone era decorate the walls, including bathing

beauties from the '20s and historic pictures of the Balboa Island

Ferry and Balboa Beach.

Since 1987, the Salisburys have owned the nearby waterfront

Newport Landing Restaurant. David Salisbury runs the day-to-day

restaurant business, whereas Doug is "the administrator and legal

mind."

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