Leave it to Hodad’s to do something really unorthodox – and stylish – with its outdoor dining enclosure on Newport Avenue.
The 52-year-old Ocean Beach eatery, nationally known for its tasty, juicy burgers and beach vibe, has used a familiar theme in decorating its outdoor dining space: surfboards. Lots of them.
Jeremy Diem, Hodad’s president/CEO, said the eatery’s new outdoor dining space is as impressive as it is simplistic. But it took some doing.
“We built a good solid platform at first, but we didn’t know how long it was going to last because of the 60-mph winds we were getting pummeled with at the time,” said the restaurant’s manager about the outdoor enclosure that’s been open several weeks. “We wanted to build something more permanent with a more solid foundation base that was better and more secure and not slanted.”
Then the concept for making Hodad’s outdoor enclosure truly representative of OB became clear.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we just had surfboards going around the whole side?’” asked Diem.
Enter Coconut Peet’s Surfboard Repair and Trading Co. at 4103 Voltaire St.
Diem got a positive response from Coconut when he approached them about helping Hodad’s put their signature stamp on their outdoor dining enclosure. “They said, ‘Come on down, we have a whole wall of surfboards you can have,” he said. “They hooked us up. So it was someone else who helped us put the bar up on our design. So we said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do this.’”
Of the finished product, Diem noted, “It came out really good,” while pointing out, “It really looks cool at nighttime as we put out some hanging teardrop lights for it.”
Diem’s noticed recently there’s been a sea change in the social “climate” recently with the revitalization of spring and business beginning to bounce back as COVID vaccines become more widely distributed.
“The volume of customers has shifted so much, and we’re so busy, that it’s hard to find people to work,” Diem said about the 1,500-square-foot Hodad’s restaurant, which is now open for indoor dining on a limited basis.
Hodad’s name is derived from the 1950s beach term for surfer wannabes who were into cars, music and counterculture style. The restaurant started in 1969 by Byron and Virginia Hardin, who purchased both the business and its name. Hodad’s was initially on the beach at the end of Santa Monica Avenue.
In 1991, after several moves, Hodad’s opened on Newport Avenue where it is today. Mike “Bossman” Hardin, the unofficial mayor and “burgermeister” of Ocean Beach, died Feb. 5, 2015.
Since Bossman’s death, the company has observed a customer appreciation day at the end of every summer. Mike Hardin’s son, and Hodad’s third-generation restaurateur, Shane Hardin, now runs the family-owned and operated restaurant-microbrewery business.
The eatery’s ambiance is eclectic. License plates from all over the planet dot the walls. There are also historic pictures; lots of beach memorabilia and picnic tables with surfboard-shaped seats.
A giant menu board over the customer counter proclaims “99 Gazillion sold.” The Hodadmobile, a mini-bus entirely plastered over with stickers from stem to stern, usually can be found parked outside next to the restaurant.
Though Hodad’s outdoor surfboard deck is built to last, circumstances undoubtedly will determine how long it remains up.
“I love it and I wish we could make a portion of Newport Avenue south of Bacon or Cable streets into a little promenade with al fresco dining, where people can walk around with no cars. Maybe we can keep the outdoor dining open until the end of 2021. But I guarantee, the City is going to want their parking back.”