Thursday, August 23, 2012

Seal Beach Restaurant Retreat

Mike Balchin and The River’s End Café

One in a Series of Surfrider Member Stories

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at  

The River’s End Café – located at the Northern point of Seal Beach where the San Gabriel River ends – is that one-of-a-kind place you hope to find, but rarely do.

On a strip of sand all by itself, this tropical, beach-side restaurant (15 First Street, Seal Beach, CA 90740) serves a mix of American, Caribbean and Central American dishes.

It was started as a labor of love by general contractor Mike Balchin, an avid surfer and long-time member of the non-profit Surfrider Foundation Huntington Beach/Seal Beach Chapter. The restaurant caters to surfers, cyclists, beach-goers, people walking their dogs, and anyone looking for a gourmet get-away with a killer ocean view.

These cyclists rode down from Long Beach

Balchin told SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel that the restaurant “is a way for me to connect with the community and provide a place where outdoor enthusiasts can stop and enjoy the beautiful Seal Beach coastline.” 

Mike Balchin
Before he could open the restaurant Balchin said, “Four years of letters went by with the City Manager to get the permits. I spent a year building the place…going there every night to work on it.”
When it came to designing the menu, Balchin picked the kind of food that he likes to eat and has enjoyed on his surfing trips. Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner choices, it’s a blend of traditional favorites with some unexpected twists.

You can get eggs practically any way you like them – in scrambles, con chorizo, omelets, and more. The crab cakes eggs Benedict was a definite winner with SurfWriter Girl Patti’s husband Greg.

Greg Kishel enjoying the River’s End coffee
Other breakfast items include pancakes (apple, banana or blueberry), French toast made with cinnamon batter, chilaquiles (tortillas mixed with eggs, tomatilla sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese), quesadillas, and the House Special Huevos de River (eggs and the fish-of-the-day topped with garlic basil sauce). 

And, when it’s on the menu, don’t miss the Italian omelet, a delicious and spicy blend of eggs, sausage, marinara sauce, spinach, mushrooms, and jack and feta cheese.

The lunch menu has all the beach classics – burgers, hot dogs, fish tacos, fish and chips, thick shakes and smooth root beer floats. 

There are also sandwiches and salads, enchiladas and tostadas and other dishes you’ll want to try, including the mango chicken, made with grilled chicken breast topped with sliced mangos and Brazilian Carioca butter and served with black beans and rice. 

For dinner you can enjoy the sunset and an array of gourmet choices – New York steaks and filet mignon, apple gravy pork chops, halibut, salmon and shrimp dishes, and a variety of enchiladas and pastas. For dessert leave room for the Crepes Tropical (diced mango and oranges sautéed in brandy and honey and dusted with powdered sugar).

Fresh tropical mangos

While you’re relaxing and letting the ocean breezes put you in a mellow mood, take some time to look at the photographs, artwork and memorabilia on the walls – the café is a shrine to surfing and to Seal Beach. 

And, on those damp, June gloom mornings or crisp fall and winter evenings, just wrap yourself in one of the lap robes provided at each table. 

The River’s End’s pristine location is just the place you’d expect Balchin to put a restaurant, given his many years as an environmental activist. “I’ve had a passion about preserving the beach from the beginning,” said Balchin. “Saving Bolsa Chica was the start in the 1980s.”   

In addition to its outstanding location and food, The River’s End Café is known for its collection of plaster surf monkeys gathered above the register. Balchin brought one of the monkeys back with him as a souvenir from a surfing trip to Mexico…and they’ve multiplied. 

To find out more about The River’s End Café, go to its website  When you check it you’ll find something you don’t usually see on a restaurant website – updates on the local surfing conditions!

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Catch the Quiksilver Wave!

Quiksilver – A History of Making Waves

One in a series of Surfrider Sponsor Stories

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at  

SurfriderFoundation Huntington Beach/Seal Beach Chapter sponsor Quiksilver has never settled for the ordinary. Since it was founded in 1969 the Huntington Beach-based company has been making waves with its action wear designs, fabrics and constructions.


Quiksilver’s first line of boardshorts, launched in 1970, revolutionized the market. With their two-snap/Velcro closures, yoked waist and scalloped legs for ease of movement, plus quick-drying cotton fabric, they were always ready for the next wave.
1970 Quiksilver boardshorts

 A decade later, Quiksilver took the lead again with ST Comp hi-tech boardshorts made out of stretch fabrics and the eye-catching Echo Beach line of geometrics and bold colors.

Echo Beach boardshorts

Letting the surf world know that it was more than a brand, Quiksilver built itself into a lifestyle company with its Quiksilver Country array of themed action wear that told of a place with perfect waves and invited surfers to discover it.

Quiksilver Country

Since then Quiksilver has continued to make its presence known, with a whole division devoted to denim, branching out into snow wear and skateboarding, and creating the Roxy line of women’s surf wear, clothing and accessories. Other well-known Quiksilver brands include: DC, Hawk, Moskova, GNU, Libtech, and Quiksilver Waterman, as well as Quiksilver Womens.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel talked to Ryan Ashton, Director of the Quiksilver Foundation, to find out more about what makes Quiksilver such a special company. “It’s a family environment,” said Ashton, leading us on a tour of the campus that took us down “executive row” where founder Bob Knight’s office is.

“We’re not run like a typical corporation. You can skateboard through the hallways or go surf during the day to clear out your head. There’s also an exercise gym in the building where employees can work out.”

Ryan Ashton, Quiksilver Foundation Director

Proof of its success is that Quiksilver is now the number one action sports company and a $2 billion business. To give athletes the complete Quiksilver experience, the company has established its own retail concept stores with more than 800 locations worldwide

There are even retail stores on the Quiksilver campus where the employees can shop. SurfWriter Girls made sure to check them out and get a preview of the fall 2012 fashions.

As an added surprise, we turned  around and caught a glimpse of Quiksilver ambassador surfing legend Kelly Slater stopping in to scope out the merchandise.
Kelly Slater

Long affiliated with top athletes like Slater, World Tour surfer Stephanie Gilmore and skateboarder Tony Hawk, Quiksilver sponsors numerous sports competitions around the world. In addition to this, Quiksilver is now a multimedia powerhouse, with a full roster of board-related projects for film, TV, books, and magazines.

Recognizing the importance of giving back, Quiksilver created the Quiksilver Foundation in 2004 to benefit and enhance the quality of life for board riding communities around the world by supporting  environmental, educational, health and humanitarian-based projects.

Ashton told SurfWriter Girls, “Working for a company like Quiksilver we’re called upon to be stewards for our environments and communities,” explaining that this philosophy is reflected in the company’s logo – a mountain and a large wave. 

A longtime Surfrider Foundation sponsor, Quiksilver shares the same concern for keeping our oceans and beaches clean and has sponsored many beach cleanups. Its focus is on “children, education, science, oceans and the environment.”

As part of this relationship, Surfrider and Quiksilver even joined forces to create a special edition, patch-work print boardshort – the “Slightly Choppy,” designed by Scott Richards – with a portion of the proceeds going to Surfrider. The shorts were a big hit and are now classics.

Slightly Choppy boardshorts

 In talking about working with Surfrider, Ashton said, “We feel privileged to further support their organization in a creative and unique way. We're always looking for unique ways to further our collaborations.”

Quiksilver has also started the QuikSCience Challenge with the University of Southern California, creating a science competition for middle school and high school students in California. Over 500,000 students have participated in this and many have gone on to receive degrees in oceanography and marine biology.

Another partner of Quiksilver’s is Stoked Mentoring, a non-profit organization that uses action sports to rehabilitate and mentor at-risk teens. “We take them surfing, build relationships with the kids, and have positive experiences,” Ashton stated.

From a global perspective, Quiksilver is involved with Surfaid International and is concerned with helping people in impoverished countries. “We’ve developed a health center for the residents of the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia on the island of Sipora and it’s providing care to expectant mothers, children, and people in need,” said Ashton. “We’re also showing people how to build earthquake-safe homes, how to capture rain water, and safe ways of cooking. We’ve set up organic gardens for growing safer vegetables, too.”

 Photo Album of SiporaVillagers


Closer to home, Quiksilver is paying attention to the company’s use of energy and natural resources. “We’re looking at everything we do from sourcing raw materials and shipping, to store operations, to product life-cycle reengineering as a way to lower our carbon-footprint.” Ashton explained. To make it fun for everyone in the company, there’s an in-house art competition with the employees creating artworks made from recycled materials.

This painting by Challen Carland is made from recycled shipping pallets.

It’s clear that Quiksilver is much more than an action sportswear company. It’s using its resources to improve the environment and reach out to people in need around the world to provide them with a better quality of life. 

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