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Bluewater Grill Acquires Historic El Galleon with a Plan to Update the Iconic Catalina Restaurant

Owners of Bluewater Avalon will ensure the 1967 destination for seafood, steaks & prime rib, holiday parties and karaoke  will delight the next generation of visitors and locals


AVALON, Calif.  (May 6, 2019) – The owners of Bluewater Avalon and the soon-to-open Toyon Grill by Bluewater at the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Trailhead Visitor Center have added a third restaurant to their Avalon family as part of an ongoing effort to invest in Catalina Island.

            Jimmy Ulcickas and Richard Staunton, whose Bluewater Avalon at the foot of Crescent Avenue helped transform the Avalon beachfront in 2013, have acquired the iconic El Galleon restaurant, along with local entrepreneur, Caleb Lins, and other local investors, with a plan to update the historic destination for the next generation of Catalina Island visitors and locals.

            Opened in 1967 by Jack and Nora Tucey on Crescent at Front Street, El Galleon is an Island institution known for its eclectic atmosphere, extensive menu and karaoke bar. Ulcickas and Staunton will work with the Tuceys, who are downsizing their restaurant and hotel holdings on the Island, to extend the restaurant’s future while restoring its unique character.

            Bluewater owners will maintain the legendary El Galleon name and concept, update the interior and simplify the menu to combine the most popular items – ribs, steaks, prime rib and chicken, classic sandwiches and burgers, and fresh, locally sourced fish in season – with a series of rotating specials. Plans call for El Galleon’s lively karaoke bar, neighborhood happy hours and year-round holiday parties to remain.

            Ulcickas and Staunton will also retain El Galleon’s staff of chefs, servers and other personnel, many of whom have worked at the restaurant for decades.

            “El Galleon is the perfect fit with Bluewater, giving us a traditional, family-oriented restaurant specializing in classic American fare to compliment the sustainable seafood and shellfish we’re serving at Bluewater Avalon and the “eco-conscious” menu at Toyon Grill,” said Ulcickas. “But more important, investing in the El Galleon ensures that this legendary, only-on-Catalina experience will be around for future generations of Island visitors and locals.”


            “We consider it an honor that the Tuceys are entrusting El Galleon to us and look forward to working with them, the City of Avalon and others to restore and enhance this local landmark. We’re thrilled to be able to extend their decades-long legacy.”

El Galleon becomes the first non-seafood restaurant in the Bluewater family known for serving certified-sustainable seafood and shellfish in signature locations throughout California and Arizona. The updated restaurant will join other Bluewater locations in restored historic buildings including the former Hotel del Coronado boathouse on Coronado Island and the landmark Castagnola Lobster House lighthouse on the Santa Barbara beachfront.

            As local fisherman who long fished the waters off Catalina Island, Ulcickas and Staunton also worked with the Santa Catalina Island Company (SCICO) in 2013 to convert the historic Avalon waterfront building that once served as the arrival and departure point for the SS Avalon and SS Catalina steamers into the 6,900-square-foot Bluewater Avalon.

            The two partnered with the Catalina Island Conservancy earlier this year to create a new eco-friendly concept called Toyon Grill, which is named after the Toyon bush, or California Holly, native to Catalina Island and Southern California. According to legend, the Toyon is so plentiful in Southern California that developers of Hollywood mistook it for “holly” and named the burgeoning community “Hollywood” by mistake.  

The new Trailhead Visitor Center also has a retail store, tour operation and gallery and roof deck that doubles as an educational, event and wedding venue. Toyon Grill by Bluewater opened last week.

            El Galleon will close May 6-10 for minor repairs before undertaking a more extensive upgrade after the summer season. Other details will be released in the coming months.

About the Bluewater Family of Seafood Restaurants

Bluewater Grill serves the freshest sustainably caught or farm-harvested seafood, innovatively prepared, in an atmosphere of casual style and at a surprisingly affordable price.

In addition to the original location in Newport's Cannery Village, there are Bluewater Grills at King Harbor in Redondo Beach, in the Camelback neighborhood of central Phoenix and in Temecula Wine Country in Southern California’s Inland Empire.  As part of the company’s commitment to one-of-a-kind settings, Bluewater Avalon and Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill serve locally caught seafood from two of Southern California’s most picturesque locations: over the water on Avalon Bay on Santa Catalina Island, and in the former Hotel del Coronado boathouse on Coronado Island in San Diego, respectively.

Bluewater founders opened their seventh and eighth restaurants in Carlsbad Village and on the Santa Barbara beachfront in November 2017 and March 2018, respectively. An eco-friendly new concept, Toyon by Bluewater, debuted at the Catalina Island Conservancy’s new Trailhead Visitor Center on Catalina Island in April 2019.

For details, go to or visit us on Twitter or Instagram. Each Bluewater restaurant also has its own Facebook page for restaurant-specific menu offers, recipes, events and local happenings.


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