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Scott Steepleton, Editor
11:13 am PDT June 21, 2020

Countless are the Sundays that I would head with family and friends to Duke’s Malibu for brunch. The serve-yourself brunch, where the kalua pig and cabbage was as plentiful as the Champagne.

It’s someone’s birthday?

Let’s go to Duke’s for Sunday brunch.

Romantic getaway?

Let’s go to Duke’s for Sunday brunch.

The niece graduated from eighth grade (or seventh or fourth or ...)?

Let’s go to Duke’s for Sunday brunch.

I even recall planning some family trips with an early Sunday return to LAX so we could go to Duke’s for brunch.

Brunches like this is what Sundays BC (before coronavirus) were all about.

Duke’s served bottomless POG mimosas, and there never seemed to be a shortage of hula dancers and Hawaiian singers working the room.

Beyond the offerings inside, the magic of this spot is what’s outside: whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals, pelicans and other marine birds.

The restaurant is situated as close as you can get to the Pacific Ocean without actually being in it.

To be “in it” you’d have to go back to the days when the spot was home to the Malibu Sea Lion, a seafood restaurant that drew crowds from the 1940s to the early 1980s. Talk about a good time. I recall as a kid being dazzled by the waves crashing into the rock revetment right outside our window. Crack open the cantilevered glass and sometimes you’d feel the spray on your face.

Sometimes you’d feel a splash.

Before the building burned down, so close was the Sea Lion to the sea that, in storms of certain magnitude, the waves would crash through those windows, drenching the interior.

Longtime Malibu resident Johnny Carson did a hilarious send-up of these events on “The Tonight Show.” The bit had the late comedian out on a dinner at the Sea Lion when a storm hits.

First there’s a little spray coming in the window, then a bucket of water, all the while Carson tries to keep a straight face.

He kept it together, in the way only Johnny Carson could lose it while keeping it together, between a starfish flying through the window and landing on the dinner table and a shark hitting him in the face.

Or was it an octopus?

Either way, it's something that, unlike endless kalua pig, was not intended for the table.

I long for the days of serve-yourself, all-you-can-eat brunches. But they’re gone for now.

Thanks coronavirus.

Scott Steepleton is editor of Malibu Surfside News. Email him with tips or tales of your favorite Sunday brunch here.