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The Kettle Honored for 50 Years in Manhattan Beach

Jan 16, 2024 08:25PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The Manhattan Beach City Council honors The Kettle for 50 years of service in Manhattan Beach. From left: Mayor Joe Franklin, Mike Simms, Richard Montgomery, Tom Simms, Amy Howorth, Jeff Byron, Steve Napolitano, David Lesser.

"This Must Be The Place," reads the exterior wall of The Kettle; and generations of Manhattan Beach residents and visitors have agreed. 

The Kettle, known as an iconic and essential Manhattan Beach institution, was honored by the Manhattan Beach City Council on Tuesday night for its 50 years of operation in the city.

"It has been an incredible privilege to serve our Manhattan Beach community for the past 50 years," Sarah Simms, part of the third generation of the Simms family to oversee The Kettle, told MB News. "We are filled with with gratitude for our team - many of whom have been with us for decades; and for our regulars and the families that have grown up within our walls."

Simms continued: "My grandfather - Arthur J. Simms - started the magic back in the 70s and my father - Scott P. Simms - dedicated his life to running The Kettle and leading such an incredible team, including our longtime kitchen manager, Florentino Pelayo, and general manager, Jeff Byron. We are heartbroken to have lost him [Scott Simms] to cancer this past fall, but we proudly carry on his legacy."

Located at the heart of town at the corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd. and Highland Ave., The Kettle's popularity has endured throughout the years, as seen especially on weekend mornings when crowds line up for brunch.

What's the secret to The Kettle's longevity? "The people," Tom Simms (son of Arthur J. Simms and brother of Scott Simms) told MB News. 

"On the one side, our guests - the people of Manhattan Beach, they've supported us over the years; and then you have all of our guys and girls who run the restaurant," Tom Simms continued. "We have many, many people in the restaurant who have been there more than 30 years. Our chef's been there 50 years. [General Manager] Jeff Byron has been there for 32 years. It's all about the people."

There have been three, almost four generations of family who have worked in the restaurant, added Simms, not to mention the generations of families who have made The Kettle part of their regular dining traditions. "We seem to know everybody who comes in the door, and they know us," he said. 

Restaurant Opened in 1973

The restaurant was opened by Wally Botello in 1973 on the site of a former Atlantic Richfield service station. Restaurateur Arthur J. Simms, patriarch of the Simms family restaurant dynasty, took over in 1975. 

The "locally world famous" Kettle is known for its elevated diner-style home-cooked menu. All soups, dressings, sauces, muffins, and more are made in-house - including The Kettle's famous honey butter - and the restaurant serves no products with trans fats. Menu modifications are welcomed, and insiders know to ask for "secret" off-menu specialties.

As Manhattan Beach has transformed in the past half-century from a sleepy beach town to a pricey destination, The Kettle has enjoyed enduring popularity. In addition to local families and tourists, the restaurant has seen its share of celebrities throughout the years, from Hollywood luminaries to sports stars. Football great Joe Montana famously wrote in his autobiography that he was sitting in The Kettle when he got the call that he was drafted to the 49ers.

The Kettle is recognized by the L.A. Conservancy as a "culturally significant" historic site; being the first 24-hour restaurant in Manhattan Beach and one of the last remaining such restaurants in the South Bay (although it is currently open 24 hours only on Fridays and Saturdays). The interior features the artistically significant work of Evelyn Ackerman, whose "Mid-Century California" Panelcarve designs can be seen in the dividers between the restaurant booths.

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