The closing of Fosters Freeze this summer ended a near 80-year tradition as the “spot” for burgers at Carpinteria and Walnut Avenues. Fortunately, Carpinteria’s other traditional burger place continues at The Spot on Linden Avenue near the beach. Opened in 1958, it has passed the 60-year mark in business. Actually, when reminiscing about burgers on the beach, Carpinterians can trace a tradition that travels even further back in time.
The Beach Store served burgers at the very bottom of Linden Avenue, cozying up to the sand and opening in 1922. It was built by Thomas Fish as a part of the Carpinteria Beach Auto Camp, which is the Carpinteria State Beach Park today. The Beach Store overlapped with The Spot for five years until it was razed after the summer of 1963. The Spot, of course, is still chugging along in 2020 with long lines of customers socially distancing because its burgers are hard to beat. The Beach Store and The Spot combined make for 98 years of good eats and fun at the beach.
But let’s be honest: when Carpinteria old-timers think back on a great burger, The Beach Store is not in the discussion. It was good enough for a day at the beach, and there was plenty more to eat there including bean taquitos, hot dogs and milkshakes. The aroma of grease on the grill, oh my! But when those same old-timers think back on a great place for fun, The Beach Store was in a class by itself.
There were long-lasting delicacies behind a glass case—Abba-Zaba bars, Look bars, Big Hunks, Sugar Daddys, Milk Duds, salt water taffy and more. There were machines for popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones. How about beach apparel? Forget to bring your swimsuit, suntan lotion, or an inner tube for surfing the waves? You name it, the Beach Store had it. How about games of skill? Yup, it had those, too. The pinball machines facing out toward the ocean from the Beach Store were in constant play. Music? The jukebox blasted out the hits. A dance on the sand could break out at any moment. The list of attractions at the Beach Store is actually too long to list in a Throwback Thursday column. It also had competitions for volleyball games, sea shells, and sand castle building. Collect your prize inside the store.
Jon Washington, in an issue of the Carpinteria Historical Society’s Grapevine (Nov/Dec 2010), paid homage to the Beach Store. He described the inside as a wet, dank and sandy place. JoAnne Goena was quoted saying, “…walking up those wooden steps, across that wood deck with my precious coins clutched in hand, and into that cool, dark place, I was dripping water and covered with sand, and no one scolded or told me to wipe my feet!” Goena’s description, as I remember it, is perfect. Looking at the photo of the Beach Store for this column does not convey the wonder and magic inside. You had to have been there.
Next Week: The Spot