Saturday, December 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Little River Inn marks 75 years on Mendocino coast

LittleRiverInn_Balcony

The panoramic view of the Pacific from a Little River Inn suite is quite spectacular. (Photo by George Medovoy)

By
From page B5 | April 05, 2014 |

As Mel McKinney will tell you, where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be a good story.

In fact, “Where There’s Smoke” is the title of the Mendocino County innkeeper’s novel about President John F. Kennedy’s plans to round up as many Cuban cigars as could be found ahead of the Cuban economic embargo.

Published by St. Martin’s Press in 1999, the novel is a fictionalized treatment of what McKinney said is a “completely true” story.

“The night before JFK heightened the blockade . . . making flirting with the enemy a crime . . . Kennedy sent Pierre Salinger out to scour Washington and Baltimore for (his) favorite Upmann Cuban cigars,” McKinney said.

McKinney has also been a duck hunter most of his adult life, and his newest book is called “Dead Duck,” in which the author introduces “the reader to the notion that duck hunting has a beauty to it and an ethic to it,” though he tries “not to preach that through the characters.”

When he’s not busy writing, McKinney holds forth at his family’s storied coastal inn on Highway 1, about 2 miles south of the charming village of Mendocino, which doubled as a New England setting in the 1966 hit movie “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.”

McKinney remembers the night the late comedian Jonathan Winters, one of the stars in the movie, took a break from filming and “conducted a three-hour, nonstop mono-logue . . . that had people literally rolling on the floor in uncontrollable laughter (at Little River Inn’s Whale Watch bar).”

Anecdotes like this can be found in “The Finn, the Twin and the Inn,” McKinney’s soon-to-be-reissued history of the pet-friendly Little River Inn, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year with a round of special events culminating Memorial Day weekend.

The inn has been a family institution ever since Ole Hervilla, of Finnish descent, and his wife, Cora Coombs Hervilla, McKinney’s late in-laws, opened the place in 1939.

That was when Hollywood discovered Little River Inn’s farmhouse-style main building as an ideal getaway along California’s north coast.

Over the years, Hollywood has also favored the Mendocino area as a setting for many films, including “Frenchman’s Creek,” starring Arturo de Cordova and Joan Fontaine in 1943, and “East of Eden,” with James Dean and Jo Van Fleet in 1954.

In 1947, Mendocino’s Main Street was seen in the movie “Johnny Belinda,” for which Jane Wyman won an Oscar for best actress.

But that’s only half the story.

On Wyman’s visit to Little River Inn, her husband at the time, Ronald Reagan, got down on the floor and showed everyone his old football moves.

Just imagine – who in Little River Inn’s bar back then could have known that they were watching a future president of the United States?

Of course, the show must go on, and while it doesn’t involve football moves, the entertaining McKinney is known to play “Happy Birthday” on his trumpet for guests celebrating their birthday at Little River Inn, where son-in-law Marc Dym, classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America, is chef.

Of my own experience in the restaurant, I particularly remember the Petrale sole meuniere, fresh from Noyo Harbor up the road in Fort Bragg.

Then there’s a terrific Little River Inn breakfast item, Ole’s Swedish Pancakes, served with olallieberry jam and, as McKinney likes to say, “The place would crumble without olallieberry jam.”

Dym, who was a restaurant consultant in Tel Aviv in the late 1990s, is concentrating these days on a farm-to-fork sustainability approach to his menu.

Moreover, in honor of the inn’s 75th anniversary, he teamed up with the Anderson Valley Brewing Company to produce Saison 75, a Belgian farmhouse-style beer with three types of hops, magnum, fuggle and goldings, as well as his own spice blend.

The restaurant also features many wines, including vintages from Mendocino County, of course, with John Sverko, an authority on California wines, as sommelier.

Currently in its fifth generation of family ownership and management, Little River Inn’s philosophy, said McKinney, is “family hospitality.”

“We feel that most, if not all, of our guests are part of our family and many have been coming here for generations,” he said. “We try to embrace and treat them as if they are family.”

It’s a lovely setting, all 225 acres of it across from the ocean and 67 rooms with wonderful ocean views, especially at sunset; a nine-hole golf course that plays 18 the second time around with reconfigured Tees; plus a spa.

Then, of course, there’s the nearby, walkable village of Mendocino, with quaint shops and panoramic views of the water.

Once a coastal logging center in earlier times, Mendocino is also known for its signature, historic water towers, with some restored versions still dominating the village skyline here and there.

Meanwhile, as night falls at Little River Inn, it’s time to settle in, light a fire and, well, take advantage of the sounds of the sea to slip into sleep.

More information about Little River Inn is available at www.littleriverinn.com.

George Medovoy writes on travel at www.postcardsforyou.

 

George Medovoy

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Jason KnowlesApril 05, 2014 - 8:27 am

    My wife and I spent our 5th anniversary there. It is absolutely gorgeous and cool with a scenic little 9-hole golf course. In the heat of summer, it is a perfect weekend escape-the-heat getaway!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Creche collection grows in size, popularity

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Handmade Christmas display is man’s labor of love

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
 
 
Company competition a big win for charity

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Meeting a great role model at any age

By Murray Bass | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

Fairfield police log: Dec. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Weather for Dec. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Island park in San Francisco Bay closed for weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Wetter than usual start to new year in California predicted

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Hospital to pay $2.2M to settle false claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Napolitano named as UC public policy professor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Man shocked 20 times during jail booking sues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 6 Comments

Notorious California graffiti suspect arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Animal rights activists take California rodeo to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California’s bullet train settles 1 of 7 lawsuits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Tuskegee Airman Lowell Steward dies in California at 95

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Theater shooter’s parents plead for his life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Driver pleads not guilty in pedestrian deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
5 ways to make your email safer in case of a hack attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Celebrities react to latest Sony hack developments

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sony on shelving ‘The Interview': ‘We had no choice’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 8 Comments

AP Interview: Coelho says Sony hack threatens all

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Lava could reach Hawaii shopping center in 8 days

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Jury rules for Indiana woman in firing over IVF

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Bergdahl investigation wraps up; top leaders get briefings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Texas eatery worker gets mink coat from customer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Sugarland, promoter settle with state fair victims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NY police officer suspended after videotaped punch

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Prepackaged caramel apples linked to 4 deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Supreme Court won’t stop gay marriages in Florida

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Staples: Customer data exposed in security breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Australian woman arrested in deaths of 8 children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Israel carries out airstrike on Hamas site in Gaza

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Pakistan executes militants and bombards tribal areas

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Franciscan religious order in ‘grave’ financial crisis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Opinion

Yes, Virginia, the Santa wish list has gone digital

By Petula Dvorak | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
If you want to help the poor, fix the safety net

By Jim Tankersley | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Dec. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Dec. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Pampered pets that don duds move to the mainstream

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B11

Children from wife’s first marriage put father’s ashes in coffin

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B11

 
.

Entertainment

More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kim Jong Un game spoof ‘Glorious Leader!’ moving forward

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Marathon bombing survivor in ‘Yes to Dress’ finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kid Rock to perform pre-race concert at Daytona 500

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Actor Stephen Collins denies he’s a pedophile in interview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Dodge, Vaca grad Mason lead Southern Oregon to NAIA title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders haven’t needed much from Janikowski

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
AP sources: Peavy agrees on $24M, 2-year deal with Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

FIFA will not reopen 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Howe’s family reports rapid improvement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

2 Armstrong associates settle lawsuit with Landis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rays, Padres, Nats complete 11-player trade involving Myers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Vanden girls open Nike TOC with win on Arizona

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Things to know about Friday’s baseball news

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rookie receivers making their mark in NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former boxing champ Ernie Terrell dies at 75

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Gold medalist Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, avoids jail time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dodgers end Yanks’ payroll streak, owe most tax

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

CIF football bowl games headed to Sacramento

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
Cal men beat Eastern Washington 78-67 for seventh straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

.

Business

California unemployment rate dips to 7.2 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Chrysler gives in to gov’t, expands air bag recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

T-Mobile paying at least $90M for unwanted services

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
EPA sets first national standard for coal waste

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Sales for holiday shopping season comes down to the wire

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Judy Zamora Rogers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Home Seller 12/20/14

Real estate transactions for Dec. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Ask a Designer: decorating with Christmas trees

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2