On this date in 1919, a new show had its grand opening at Gus Mann’s Jewel City Cafe. With a new show by Mr. E. G. Wood, America’s foremost revue producer, King Luitpold-worthy meals by Monsieur Alfred Verme, and a jazz orchestra that inspired foot misbehavior, Gus Mann was spinning the human interest story of 1919!
Researching Seal Beach history means exposing yourself to a lot of bombast over the years, but Gus Mann (or the copywriter he hired) had a self-promotional style unique even to Seal Beach.
What is unusual about this particular ad campaign in Seal Beach history is that over the decades, many businessman, salesmen, and promoters come on to the scene, make wild claims about the overwhelming success that Seal Beach (or Bay City) has become and tries to convince buyers to invest before Seal Beach opportunities become scarce and expensive. This is the standard Seal Beach pitch: Biggest! Most-est! Best-est! Buy now! Now! Now! NOW! Gus takes a gutsier marketing tact.
First, Gus does something that no one else seems to ever have done: he acknowledges that business has not been as successful as hoped. In fact, his friends are advising him to quit. Gus will have none of that. So now he’s a bit of an underdog now, fighting against the odds. He’s going to give it another go and work even harder this time to entice you to the Jewel City Cafe. How can you resist?
We’re not saying that Gus Mann abandoned the good ol’ Seal Beach hyperbole. In the days leading up to the grand opening of this show, he paid to insert two or three sentence items into the news columns of the Santa Ana Register.
Even after the opening, Gus spent most of July 1919 promoting the new show.
Gee, do you think Mrs. Ima Hostess and Mrs. R. U. Slender were real people?
So was this campaign successful? Like so many endeavors in Seal Beach’s past, the promotional sizzle was fantastic, but the steak ended up being all gristle.
– Michael Dobkins