When your relatives are in town for the holidays and expect breakfast, skip the cooking and cleaning and give them a taste of Long Beach’s locally famous Schooner or Later.
Whether you get there sooner or later, there may be a wait for a table at the popular harbor-view restaurant, but it’s worth the wait — think of the line as a testament to how beloved the breakfast and lunch spot is in the community.
“This restaurant really personifies the Long Beach lifestyle,” owner Denny Lund said. “We hear so many times, when people have friends or family visiting from out of town or out of state, that this is the first place they come.”
Even on a weekday morning, there’s hardly an empty seat in the dining room, where classic American fare is paired with vintage diner décor, such as a juke box, salvaged artwork from downtown’s old Crest Theatre and a custom-made neon clock.
On the outdoor patio, which is one of the true highlights of Schooner or Later, crowds of people keep their heads bent over breakfast plates and their eyes on the yachts and sailboats in the marina. Overhead, there are large umbrellas, palm trees, seagulls and Southern California sunshine.
Regulars know one another and they know Lund and his sister Denise, too, since someone in the family has been there most every day for the past 35 years.
A Bite Of History
Lund said he was inspired to open Schooner or Later because he grew up eating with his dad at a placed called The Little Ship’s Galley — which catered to boaters picking up quick bites where Schooner or Later is located now.
After his father passed away, the fourth-generation Long Beach guy said he felt compelled to purchase The Little Ship’s Galley, adding that large patio dining area and renaming the business.
He and his family have been eating there ever since.
“There’s something on the menu that’s called ‘Denny’s Favorite,’ for a reason,” Lund said.
About The Food
The owner’s favorite is a combination of scrambled eggs, cream cheese, red onion and cilantro, served with hash browns and toast, muffin or bagel ($10.45).
Most folks, though, order “The Mess” ($12.65 for the full version, or $10.65 for a half order). It’s a “world famous, local tradition” of chopped ham, bell pepper and onions grilled with hash browns and eggs, all finally topped with melted cheddar cheese and served with sourdough toast. Avocado, sour cream or chili can be added for additional fees.
A popular accompaniment to “The Mess” is the Madras ($7.75) — a mix of Cook’s Champagne, orange juice and cranberry juice, which Lund said the restaurant sells enough of to make Schooner or Later a top seller of Cook’s Champagne in the world.
Made with fresh ingredients, the breakfasts are so locally famous at Schooner or Later that the world has caught on — the restaurant was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” starring Guy Fieri.
What makes it so good, Lund said, is how he and his staff push for consistency and give the place personal touches — several employees have worked at Schooner or Later for most of the restaurant’s lifetime, including chef Tony Galope and cook Hector Rodriguez.
There’s care you can taste put onto each plate that comes out hot from the kitchen, and Lund said everyone there is determined to keep making Schooner or Later the best it can be.
And they clearly know what they’re doing.
Schooner or Later goes through at least 7,000 eggs a week, Lund said.
Important To Know
When you visit schooner, rather than later, the operating hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Free parking is available in the lot adjacent to the restaurant, which is located at 241 Marina Drive.
For more information, call (562) 430-3495 or visit www.SchoonerOrLater.com.