CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — For any business to have been around for 35 years is rare. But for that business to be a bar and a bar with the same name for all 35 of those years, plus the same ownership is noteworthy. On May 1, The Kraken “Bar by the Sea” met that milestone.
The Kraken opened for business on May 1, 1976. The gentleman who opened the bar and still owns it is Encinitas resident Doug Aldred. Aldred, a former construction worker, moved to North County in 1975 from Detroit, specifically to get in the bar business. While searching to find the right location, someone told him about a condemned building on South Coast Highway 101 in Cardiff that might be available. It turned out the building, which is located at 2531 S. Coast Highway 101, was available and had a very unique past.
It was constructed in 1945 by Milton Smith. He got the structure from war surplus and it came in a box. Smith used it as an office for his construction company until the 1960s when it became the original home of surf legend Don Hansen’s Hansen Surfboards. But its longest tenant is most definitely The Kraken.
Seeing only a few changes, The Kraken looks much the same as it did in 1976 and when you’re there, you could be in any beach bar on either coast.
What has enabled The Kraken to thrive all these years? Aldred will tell you it’s the staff. People like his day bartender Jimi Ford, who himself will celebrate 35 years at The Kraken on July 5, 2011, or two of his other longtime employees, Traci DiRuscio, there for 17 years and Sarah Brinkley, with them nearly 14 years.
Ford will say, “It’s our customers, who like to have good fun. And we have been able to provide that for them for 35 years and counting.”
The Kraken celebrated its 35th anniversary May 7 with an anniversary feast on Aldred, and live music by High Plain Drifters and Blasting Idiots.