The Hottest Burger Joint in Town
As my Grandfather would say to me, "Don't change a thing and you'll do just fine."
“Don’t change a thing and you’ll do just fine” Those were the words my grandfather said to me when I asked him; what one thing can you tell me (about The Galley) that’s important above all others.
I used to visit him three or four days a week where he lived at a local retirement home, he would eagerly await my arrival when I would bring his malt, not a shake but a malt, a chocolate one. I loved our chats, he would talk about the good ole days or sometimes we would just watch TV together. Even in his somewhat frail condition and given the fact that he was not a tall man, to me he always seemed larger than life itself, It was the way his eyes twinkled and that infectious smile that would emanate from his face when he talked with me about those “good ole days” It was during one of those chats, shortly before he passed away that he said to me “just don’t change a thing and you’ll do just fine” Let me tell you not changing anything isn’t as easy as it sounds, but then grandpa never said it would be easy!
The Galley, or as some people call it Eddies Galley was purchased by Myrtle and Edward Flach Sr. in 1957. Myrtle was born in Tipton California, the year was 1919. Eddie was born in Tombstone Arizona in 1911. He was the son of a prominent pharmacist, however Eddies father passed away when he was only 5 yrs. old at which time the family moved to LA. Myrtles family moved to Balboa Island sometime during her early childhood. Eddie learned to cook when he was in his teens; and continued to learn his trade as a short order cook and in 1932 at the age of 21 he took a position as a cook on a tramp steamer where he worked his way around the world as a merchant seaman. It was in 1935 that Eddie bought the food concession inside the Balboa Pavilion that was at the time a bowling alley. He served hamburgers for 15 cents each. Eddie succifucisufly operated the concession for approximately three years until he bought “Eddies Pantry” in 1939, Located in the what would now be the cloverleaf on south bound PCH going onto (current) eastbound Newport Blvd.This is around the time Eddie and Myrtle first met and she went to work for him waiting tables. The Pantry was located across the street from “The Arches” restaurant. Eddie kept very odd hours at the Pantry; he was open seven days a week from 9pm. to 7am. Eddie received a lot of business from theatergoers leaving the Port Theater near Lido Isle, and at around 2am. Local waitresses and bartenders would come in, then at 4am. The fisherman would return from a long nights work, hungry and ready for one of eddies signature breakfasts
At some point in 1942 Myrtle went to work, waiting tables for “The Arches”, Eddie continued to work for the commanding officer as his personal chef until March of 1946 when the Santa Ana army air corps air station (SAAAS) base was deactivated, leaving Eddie free to take a cooks position with “The Arches”. Eddie was hired at the Arches by a man named “Howard” who many years later would go to work for Eddie and Myrtle at the Galley. I remember working alongside Howard as a child. One of many “first memories” of the Galley is of Howard, a gentle man who walked with a slow shuffle from the dishwasher to the dining room and back….. It was in 1949 that Eddie went to work for the civil service as a manager for there snack shop divivision and Myrtle went to work for “Dennis Printers” in Santa Ana. It was at this time (1949) the family moved from the blue top motel in Newport Beach to a house on South Parton st. in Santa Ana, Which was one of the first track homes in the area, wasn’t long before Myrtle and Eddie were an item, one thing led to another, and soon they were married, shortly thereafter their first child was born. Myrtle gave birth to Edward Hoffman Flach Jr. (Hoffy) in April of 1941. Hoffy was born at St. Josephs Hospital in Santa Ana. He was often kept under the counter at the pantry snuggled in his bassinet. By this time the family had moved to the “Blue Top Hotel” on old Newport blvd. just behind the “Arches” the current Newport Boulevard did not exist then, and was in later years, fondly remembered by Hoffy as his “Wilderness Playground”. Eddie loved doing what he did best, serving coffee and great food to the locals, building friendships and relationships, But coffee wasn’t the only thing brewing.Tensions escalated In Europe, and on December 7th 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. Wartime regulations and evening blackouts soon forced “Eddies Pantry” out of business. Not long after Eddie went to work at the Santa ana army air base as the personal chef for the bases commanding officer, this is important because the base was a “Classification Center”, where aspiring Air Cadets were classified as pilots, navigators or Bombardiers. Due to the impending draft Eddie enlisted, and as the story goes the commanding officer did not want to loose Eddie as his personal cook because of his “signature breakfast dishes”, and “plain old good cooking.” The commanding officer somehow worked a deal where Eddie could serve his basic training at the Santa Ana Army Air Base even though the base was for pilots and aircrew. Eddies basic training consisted of 30 days confined to the airbase. Rumor has it that during WWII due to the close proximity with Los Angeles and Hollywood, Many stars came to perform for the airman before they were deployed.