Monday, July 11, 2011

Tim Grobaty: Chatting with ... Fred Khammar, beach boss

Fred Khammar is an event organizer and owner of Alfredo's Beach Clubs from downtown Long Beach to Alamitos Bay. He's always at the beach, busy with something. ( Stephen Carr/ Staff Photographer)

Fred Khammar is the Lord of the Beach, unless you've got a better guy for the title. He's either totally in charge of or plays a key role in virtually everything fun that happens on our local strand, from movies on the beach to pirate invasions. You can throw a Frisbee from one of his Alfredo's Beach Clubs to the next, from downtown to Belmont Shore.

Q: When was the last time you wore shoes?

A: No shoes. I've got flip-flops on all the time. I think I have some black Vans around someplace for special occasions.

Q: Every time we turn around -- and we're always turning around -- you've made some new acquisition. How much stuff do you own now?

A: We've got the pedal boats in the Rainbow Lagoon at the Hyatt downtown. Then, at 1 st Place we have volleyball courts and bikes. Alfredo's Beach Club at Alamitos Beach down by Marina Green we have movies on the beach on Thursday, and we rent 3 G bikes made in Long Beach. We rent, sell and repair skates with Moxi on Fourth Street. . . Then at Cherry Beach at Alfredo's Beach Club we do a lot of Mexican food. We do our Mondo Monday movies series there. We sell water toys, umbrellas, do a lot of private parties. Then, we have the Pier, which has really blossomed. Long Beach Transportation's AquaLink stops there now. We have two charter boats you can rent for sunset cruises, dinner cruises, whatever. We have a bait and tackle shop, a restaurant -- Buoy's on the Pier, we've got boats to take you out to the mooring balls.

Q: This is supposed to be a Q&A, not just an A.

A: I can talk all day. We've got the Alfredo's Beach Club at Granada Beach, where you can rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards and JetSkis. And at Horny Corner we have the Kayak Cafe, where we have your daughter Hannah's french fries, plus rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.

Q: What do you do for a vacation?

A: I've been on vacation the last 35 years. I'm busy all the time, but I don't feel like I've worked a day in my life.

Q: You've got places all over the world, it seems like. especially Hawaii.

A: Not as much in Hawaii anymore. We have vacation packages for a place in Kaui, and another on the Colorado River in Bullhead City, and a place in Vancouver, Canada that are all available for rent.

Q: So you just go around to cool places buying stuff up?

A: I see opportunities everywhere I go. That's why it's better if I just stay here in town.

Q: It's just strange to be working so hard and relaxing at the same time. How do I get a personality like that?

A: I got my MBA in business at the dinner table. My dad owned a bunch of nightclubs and every night at dinner he'd talk about two things: World War II and business.

Q: Well, it's a good thing you didn't become a G.I. They have to wear shoes.

A: I worked as an engineer first. I spent two years with pens in my pocket working under fluorescent lights, then I went to work for Major League Baseball, running the stadium for Bud Selig and his Milwaukee Brewers, then going to the Cincinnati Reds and running their stadium. I got a 1975 World Series ring.

Q: How'd you finally get to Long Beach?

A: I went into the beach business, starting a concession stand in Malibu in 1976, then I bought another one and then another one and then another one. Ten years ago I had 22 beach locations from Ventura to Newport Beach.

Q: Then you sold them all?

A: I began divesting. Now I concentrate on Long Beach pretty much year round.

Q: Same here. But, of course, in summer you're really swamped.

A: Man, we've got what we're calling the Ultimate Beach Party at Marina Green July 16 and 17; the Civil War re-enactment at El Dorado July 30 and 31. Got the Kids' Fishing Rodeo on Aug. 5; the Sand Sculpture Contest on Aug. 13 and 14, then we roll into the Tiki Fest on Aug. 20. On Sept. 16 and 17 we're adding a Pirates Invasion of Rainbow Lagoon. On Sept. 18 I take a nap.

Q: I gotta take a nap now, too. You're working so hard it's making me sleepy.

A: I know it sounds hard, but I enjoy it so much it looks easy. I feel guilty sometimes because people think I'm working so hard. But it's a blast for me.

Q: You handle it well. The guilt. When are you going to retire?

A: I've been retired. All this time.

Tim Grobaty can be reached at or 562-499-1256.

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