We’ll Always Have Shellbacks

When love starts on a beer-stained paper napkin.


South Bay singles! If you’re searching for your spouse, drop that dating app and sprint to Shellback Tavern. Why? We’ve identified “Shelly’s” as the bar that spawned the most married couples in Manhattan, Hermosa or Redondo.

In early May, yours truly—a pseudo sociologist—posted the following request on Facebook and emailed it to local friends and bars/restaurants: “If you know anyone who got married after randomly meeting their spouse at a South Bay bar, please send them my way.” The random qualification proved important, as many marrieds met at bars through setups or pre-planned first dates. Forty-eight couples responded to me.

The top three? Shellback (five), Ercoles (four), Patrick Malloy’s and Hennessey’s Hermosa Beach (tied with three).

Brian Luke met his wife, Jamie, thanks to that classic South Bay morning after activity: Dude, Where’s My Credit Card? On 7/7/07, toward the end of a long Independence Day weekend, Brian woke up and—after assessing the damage—realized he left his Visa at his last stop the night before.

He enlisted his wingman Eric Oakes to ride bikes with him to North End in Hermosa to pick up his plastic. Naturally, they had to have a beer there. But that’s not where the magical meeting took place.

“Let’s pedal up to Shelly’s and have a margarita while we watch the Dodger game.” One pitcher–of booze–later, Jamie walked into the bar. Her friend pointed out the cute guy (Brian) next to the guy with the Mohawk (Eric) and suggested that Jamie talk to the former. So she did. He gave her a ride home–on the handlebars of his beach cruiser. They got married in 2011.

Kelsey wasn’t looking for a mate when she hit Patrick Malloy’s for 50-cent beers on a Friday night in 2002. She had just moved to Hermosa the weekend prior and was looking forward to life at the beach. Naturally she met Brian Good, who was also feeling no pain as he celebrated his 25th birthday.

“I wanted to enjoy being single,” Kelsey laughs, “and I wound up meeting my future husband!”

Pam McLaughlin was a rookie to the South Bay in 2013, and that nearly doomed her relationship before it started. At Circa (RIP), she met Dave Epand—a longtime Manhattan Beach resident. In a twist, he gave her his number instead of getting hers because he didn’t have his cell phone with him.

“Alas, nothing romantic ever happens at closing time, right?”

Pam, the newbie, didn’t know to assume his area code was 310. Luckily, both their groups of friends opted for a bite at MB’s favorite late night eatery, The Kettle. In a booth, Dave edited his number in Pam’s phone. They exchanged vows three years later.

A little post-drinking mental lapse could have derailed another couple’s meeting at The Underground in December 2011. During a stop on the South Bay’s annual Big Ten Pub Crawl, which coincides with the conference’s championship game, Brittany really hit it off with David Friskics. This occurred in spite of the fact that his buddy was a Michigan fan and she bled the scarlet and grey of Ohio State.

Oh … and the fact that Brittany, a few cocktails in, forgot David’s name and had to be reminded by her sister. Their engagement webpage shares that story!

Speaking of technology, perhaps you can get yourself a time machine and travel back to the original Baja Sharkeez in Manhattan Beach (now home to Fishbar), which produced seven married couples. Speaking of the fun franchise, Rob Cammidge met Amber at the Hermosa Beach location on her 30th birthday. They even have photographic evidence of their first Sharkbite together!

Of course, instead of patronizing a bar to meet your mate, you could always work there. Nine respondents reported marriages that began when one person served the other. And if you really want to boost your odds, just become a bartender at BAC Street Lounge in Redondo. Sean Scott met his wife, Vanessa, and Eric Senff met his bride, Lacie, while slinging drinks in the tiny dive.

Kristie Boitano met her husband, Robert, the same way. But this couple took it one step further: They bought the bar together!

Vanessa and Pat Carey met at Union Cattle Company (RIP) when she slipped him her number on a napkin in February 2006. Three years later Pat wrote his marriage proposal to Vanessa—on that same napkin. Awwww.

Alas, nothing romantic ever happens at closing time, right? Libby and Dan Nikkel–and their three kids—would disagree. The couple met after Libby’s friends ordered one last round of shots. At The Mermaid. At 1:30 in the morning. We can all toast to that!