Photo by Scott Graves.
Belmont Shore won’t be the same without the friendly presence of Chuck Tinkler, owner of the “locally world famous” Chuck’s Coffee Shop on Ocean Boulevard.
Chuck passed away Thursday morning around 5:00AM from complications that arose from a fall he sustained about a month ago. He had been in the hospital since the incident, according to Taylor Mims, manager at Chuck’s Coffee Shop.
Opened in 1964, The Weasel became the restaurant’s most famous dish. Scrambled eggs, beans, grated onions and cheese, “the Weasel is basically for people who really want a chili dog for breakfast but can't bring themselves to order one,” former Los Angeles Times Deputy Food Editor Russ Parsons wrote in 1996.
“If you come by on the weekends, [Chuck will] be the middle-aged gentleman in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt who's stopping at every table to gab,” Parsons wrote. “He's as loud and friendly as a frat boy and seems like a guy who can scarcely believe his good fortune. Don't look for him on afternoons and weekdays; he's probably out on his boat.”
About two years ago, Chuck passed on the running of the business to his daughter, Laurie Surface, who with the help of family members and the restaurant's longtime staff, has ensured that Chuck’s Coffee Shop remain open and true to its “locally world famous” reputation.
“That was his form of retirement, was to have me take over the bill paying and he could still go in and visit people which made him very happy,” Surface told the Post. “We have no plans to close it[...]. We wanted to make sure that everybody knew, business as usual. It’s a family business and it’s going to stay that way.”
Surface said that since the news about Chuck’s passing has spread, she has been receiving emails from friends and patrons, some who went to highschool with him or have known him for years and years, all with a story to tell about their encounters with the local legend. Surface called him “the unofficial mayor of Long Beach.”
“Chuck was a singular guy,” Mims told the Post. “He could be boisterous and loved to have a good time. He just wanted to go around the restaurant he loved and say hello to everyone.”
The last time “the Post” spoke to Chuck was as we watched the remnants of the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool come down, just across the park from the restaurant. He walked out of Chuck’s Coffee Shop and brought me a coffee, where we stood before the demolition and joked about his “new” waterfront property.
“I think one of things I'll miss the most is the excitement people got from meeting the Chuck,” Mims said. “He would make people's day when he met them and he was surprisingly good at remembering people, even those who only came into the restaurant once before.”
Chuck Tinkler, born on March 15, 1940, is survived by his daughter Laurie Surface, his son Wayne Tinkler, and siblings Norman and Madelyn Tinkler.
The family is asking that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America via the website here, a foundation started by the wife of a friend of Chuck’s who passed away, said Surface.
Chuck’s Coffee Shop is located at 4120 East Ocean Boulevard.