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Writer Seeks Ercole's Memories, Photos

Sep 23, 2018 09:42PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Got a story to share about Ercole's? If you've been in Manhattan Beach for any amount of time, you probably do... and a local writer wants to hear about it.

Author Kristin Long is working on a book about Ercole's, the iconic watering hole that's been a fixture in town for nearly a century."I want to capture the spirit of what has made Ercole's such a beloved institution for 90 years," said Long. "I've found that the best and most interesting stories are the simplest and most personal."

For example, Long cited a story that she heard when she asked for feedback on Facebook: "I got a great response from a guy whose father spent lots of time at local bars like Erc's and Shellback Tavern - and when he died, his burial was paid for by his fellow regulars."

"Stories like his have gotten lost over time, but they're the fabric of the Ercole's character and why I think it's so important," she added. "I'm also worried that with constant turnover downtown and ever-soaring real estate, Erc's could disappear, and I'm hoping that writing a book about it might help to preserve it."

Ercole's has been a landmark in town since 1927... or has it? Long says that in a conversation last year with current Ercole's owner, Staci Clark (who inherited it from her uncle Gary Moore), Clark mentioned a 90th anniversary but she wasn't sure what day or month it should be. Following up on that question, Long learned after extensive research at the Manhattan Beach Library that the 1927 date may be inaccurate. 

Long said that according to local newspapers from the time, Joe Ercole and a woman named Grace Ullery first opened a soda fountain and ice cream shop at 1101 Manhattan Avenue in July 1929. "I don't know who initially claimed 1927 and why, but up until March,1929, that location housed various dry goods stores," she said.

In addition to the papers at the library, Long has been searching records at Manhattan Beach City Hall, conversing with local historian Jan Dennis, and spending time at the Manhattan Beach Historical Society looking for pictures and anything else Ercole's-related.

"I've been doing endless amounts of research over the past year trying to get the most accurate and detailed history because I've found that lots of false information has been repeated over the years. It's a long process because there's 90 years to go through and not everyone's recollection of things is the same," said Long, adding: "I've been able to get in touch with a few members of the actual Ercole family, which has been really cool."

Long continues to search for those who might have insight on Ercole's past. In particular, she said, she is looking for anyone who knew Lou and Ellen Underwood, the owners from the late 1950s until 1972 who decided that Ercole's should feature Dutch and Indonesian Cuisine. "I have so many questions about that," she said.

Long's goal is to have a book out by next year.

Those who have insights or photos to share are urged to email Long at

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