Our History

The Cannery’s Historic Journey

Cannery Exterior Black and WhiteThe story of the Cannery covers nearly 90 years of American history. It began in 1921 when the first commercial fish cannery was built along the Rhine channel between 30th Street and Lido Park Drive. The location was, and still is, the hub of commercial fishing boat activity in Newport Beach.

In 1934 Western Canners Company was founded to take over the plant and it remains at the same location today. At that time, the canning operation was done by hand at the rate of 400 cases of fish per day. Better machinery and enlarged facilities later increased it to 5,000 cases per day, with automation in the 1950’s speeding up the canning process even further. Additionally, individuals were serviced through the famous “Sportsman’s Pack” allowing private parties to bring in their catch for canning. The record is believed to be 135 tons of mackerel.

On August 1, 1966, The Cannery was closed, but not forever. With its seaside location and natural charm, it appealed to businessmen as an ideal site for small shops and unique restaurants. From this vision, a kind of Montmartre by the sea evolved where tourists and artists could both gather.

Old photo celebrating recently caught marlinRebuilt by Bill Hamilton (the founder of Clean Harbor Day) as a waterfront restaurant in 1973, The Cannery regained its position of prominence in the community and once again was a focal point of interest and inspiration. In the fall of 1999, Mr. Hamilton sold The Cannery to a developer that had planned to tear down the restaurant and put homes on the property. In the spring of 2000, however, local resident Jack Croul purchased the property seeking to preserve the history of Newport Beach that resides within The Cannery’s walls. Mr. Croul entrusted the ongoing success of The Cannery to Southern California restaurateur Ron Salisbury. Mr. Salisbury’s family has a long restaurant history that begins in 1923, when they began the first El Cholo Café (one of Los Angeles’ oldest and most successful restaurants) and continues to today and beyond.

The new Cannery Seafood of the Pacific is committed to continuing its promise of delivering the best and freshest seafood, steaks and chops. Ron and his staff are not reinventing the wheel, but with one eye on the Cannery’s rich history and one on the future, they are changing the ride.