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Reflections on the Chelsea Chowder House aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

   

             
A partial deckplan of Promenade Deck today shows in yellow the location of the new Chelsea Chowder House complex.   


                                            
          
         A closeup of the area as it was when the Queen Mary came to Long Beach in 1967.  

The Chelsea entrance is where the Long Gallery's Midships Bar was located and the hallway continues through the shop shown above.  The Chelsea Chowder House Bar area is located at the back end of the postwar cinema also seen above in the deckplan.  The restaurant's dining room is lower, off this deckplan, where the starboard enclosed promenade was located. (This deckplan is courtesy of Sean Hankins and Jeff Taylor.)  The area marked in red is the location of the even larger prewar Ballroom.  


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                          A photo below of the Midships Bar  circa 1967. 

  • A long hallway proceeds to the starboard side though the original tea dance or ballroom (converted into a shop in the 1950s.) 
                               
       The same area in 1949 when it was a dance floor connected to the Long Gallery.     

                                
The hall area as a luxury Cunard gift shop created out of the postwar dance floor in the mid 1950's.  This was how this area looked when the Queen Mary came to Long Beach in 1967.


  • The bar area of the Chelsea Chowder house occupies the portion of the pre-war ballroom absorbed by a movie theater after WW2.  (A LB era restaurant manager's office was demolished to site the bar.)

                                   
The prewar ballroom.  The Chelsea Chowder House bar area would be in the upper left hand area of this photograph.

  • The Chelsea Chowder House dining room occupies a portion of the original enclosed starboard promenade deck. 
                                                
                   The entrance hall to the Chelsea Chowder House as it is today. 


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       A hostess entering the bar area of the Chelsea Chowder House venue.


                      

         The bar of the Chelsea Chowder House Complex - above and below.

                                            


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The seating area in the bar.  Note that the glass art panel that was removed from the main second class staircase last year is no longer displayed here.

                                                   

                                    
                                                   
                The menu of the Chelsea Chowder House as of November, 2010. 

The caliber of the service was excellent during my visit on Saturday, November 6, 2010.  I found the prices moderately high.  The Maine oysters were very fresh, the selection of breaded fish was very tasty. The aioli sauce that accompanied it was both well prepared and sufficient for the serving. The wines recommends were fine and both coffee and dessert were excellent.

                 


                             

                     Various views of the dining room of the Chelsea Chowder House venue.

                          

                                                                            


                                                    
                                                          A room with a view. 

The view of the Long Beach skyline has been the impetus to use the starboard enclosed promenade to house restaurants beginning with "Lord Nelson's", a steakhouse, and "Lady Hamilton's", a seafood restaurant, in the 1970's.  The Promenade Cafe and the Chelsea Chowder House are simply the latest reworks of the same venues.



                                     

Subway tiles now line the walls in the Chelsea Chowder House blocking out the tall windows that once graced the inboard wall and the grand public rooms on Promenade Deck.  Reproduction wainscoting lines the base of the walls.  (The original mahogany wainscoting that lined the outboard wall appears to have been removed.)  Large blowups of the maiden voyage pamphlet illustrating comparisons of various aspects of the Queen Mary adorn the inboard wall.


On reflection....


                        
Diner's Club plan for a restaurant on the starboard side of promenade deck in the very early 1970's intentionally retained the open flow of the enclosed promenade. 

The Diner's Club plan for a walkthrough restaurant was never realized.  Instead Specialty Restaurants, the opening master lessee for the ship, built two "themed" restaurants, "Lord Nelson's", a steahouse, and "Lady Hamilton's", a seafood restaurant. These restaurants created a series of obstructions on the starboard enclosed promenade.


                           
                                 Lady Hamilton's Seafood Restaurant in the 1970's.....


                            
                         .... became the Chelsea Restaurant from the 1980's .....    

                                     
                       ...until its recent redecoration as the Chelsea  Chowder House of today.
      

After dining at the Chelsea Chowder House Restaurant I observed the port side enclosed promenade.  (See photo below.)  It illustrates the sweeping grandeur of the Queen Mary and what the enclosed promenade on both sides of the ship looked like originally.  

                                    
                                     The portside enclosed promenade as it is today. 


While the distinctive decor of the Chelsea Chowder House sets it apart from the Promenade Cafe and Sir Winston's I can't help but think that an opportunity was missed by not restoring the starboard enclosed promenade to house it, as Diner's Club intended to do in their plan for the Queen Mary in the early 1970's.  

So what of the recently redecorated Promenade Cafe and the Chelsea Chowder House?  Frankly, I would like to see them both totally removed.  The Promenade Cafe could easily be replaced with a more spacious hotel coffee house on forward Sun Deck perhaps called the Sun Deck Cafe.  And the restored Veranda Grill with a new outdoor eating area would more than compensate for the removal of the Chelsea Chowder House.  The removal of these obstructions on Promenade Deck would then allow for the removal of their kitchen(s) and for the full restoration of that deck to its prewar grandeur.  (Sir Winston's on Sports deck might be retained as an English beef house similar to Simpson's of the Strand in London.)   


                                       

The sweeping enclosed promenades, a defining architectural feature of the Queen Mary, are shown as fully restored.  They might serve as recreational and social space aboard the ship as well as key logistic space on the restored Promenade deck. (Illustrations by Steve Covington.)  

 
                                      
The enclosed starboard promenade as we would prefer seeing it.  The top illustration shows the forward area while the bottom one illustrates the area midships and aft.


The economic value of the restored golden ring of reception rooms on Promenade Deck would be incalculable to the artistic and architectural reputation as well as to the economic bottom line of operation of the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach -- particularly if the Queen Mary were finally teamed with a large resort style convention hotel built on the southern edge of the property and if the logistical links to downtown Long Beach were finally addressed.


                      


                     

       



See also: 
http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/alter.html



 

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