Hazel's Inn is an important part of Pacifica history. For many years, it was a popular bar and restaurant, and later briefly welcomed a gay clientele driven south by bar raids in San Francisco. The buildings that became Hazel's Inn/Casino and Hazel's Motel were first owned and operated by an actress named Mrs. Briggs to live in. Briggs had a Japanese Tea House from the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair relocated to "Salada Sands", which became part of the property (The tea house has also been referred to as a portable bungalow). Briggs eventually sold the buildings to Miss Delia R. Mohr, who turned the properties into a tavern and "auto camp". Mohr's Auto Camp was quite popular from 1932-1938. However, in 1937, Mohr was arrested for "violating the state alcohol control act" for "illegal possession of liquor". On March 16, 1939, Delia sold the properties - including cabins, tavern & motel to Earl and Hazel Nickola (sometimes spelled: "Nikola" or "Nicola"). Two years later, Delia R. Mohr (Strohmeier) passed away of a sudden heart attack in Sharp Park (October 1, 1941).
Hazel and Earl re-named the business "Hazel's Inn" (also referred to as "Hazel's Casino", and "Hazel's by the Sea"). They had the second neon sign in Salada Sands (Fred Plate had the first). The casino/Inn had a successful run for almost 20 years. Newspaper ads for Hazel's Inn featured "Dancing and Swimming" along with "Specializing in Assorted Sandwiches", and "Beer, Wine Liquors, and Mixed Drinks". There were games like skee-ball, pool and shuffleboard. The area for dancing had a polished floor, and music provided by a jukebox with the latest tunes . One 1940s ad announced that Hazel's Inn would provide "Free Moving and Talking Pictures" at their weekend party. Hazel's was a place to stay (motel & cabins), party, relax, and have fun. Though Hazel's used the term:"Casino" in their title, there are no references to an actual casino on the premises. The beach became part of the scene, and was often referred to as "Hazel's Beach". For the first five years of its operation, Hazel's was open during WWII, and people needed an escape, a place to socialize, dance and enjoy life. Columnists in Sharp Park Breakers posted about Hazel's Inn, from 1939-1945, mostly snippets about their pets, projects, and parties. The "References" section of this page includes some of the Sharp Park Breakers news items.
LOCATION: Hazel's Casino/Inn and Motel were located on Casino Way. Many early ads just list their address as "On the Beach". You'd find it. Or, "Old County Road", which was on the other side of their property - parallel to Casino Way/Ocean Blvd. Then, in 1948, Earl and Hazel Nickola donated 49 lots of their beach property to the county under the State's Beach Acquisition Program, to build a 60-foot-wide continuance of Ocean Blvd (the beach at that point was in danger of washing away). Their generous gift made it possible a for easier access through that part of Sharp Park (plan details are available in the downloads section here), as well as securing the beach area as public property. Eventually, their new address became 31 Ocean Blvd. (though ads in the early 50s still used "Casino Way"), which later became 2381 Beach Blvd. The complex of Hazel's Casino/ Inn and Motel, including the cabins just had one address: 31 Ocean Blvd. The general location has been described as :"..on the beach, between the sewer plant and the golf course. " In 1940, Earl built a crossroad from Old County Road to the complex, for easier access to Hazel's.
Eventually, Hazel and Earl divorced, and she took on the property alone. It was a lot of work, and often challenging. Business started picking up in the mid-50s, partly due to the bar raids in San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Homosexual gatherings were being targeted by law enforcement, and Hazel's was a safe place for gay persons to relax and be themselves, at least for awhile. Hazel didn't think anything of it; she was non-judgemental and tolerant, and that people's personal preferences were none of her business. Clients were clients. She was quoted as saying that these customers were better behaved than most. Unfortunately, complaints by neighbors and word-of-mouth about the "unusual activity" at Hazel's Inn alerted the Sheriff, leading to a raid on February 19, 1956 , landing 78 men and 10 women in the county jail in Redwood City, on morals charges. Hazel was arrested and booked for "Permitting dancing on a Sunday, and for operating a dance without a permit". She was released on $250. bail. According to testimony related to Hazel's Petition for Appeal in 1958, representatives of the San Mateo County Sheriff's office warned her that some of the activities taking place in the tavern should be discontinued. Between January 7, 1956, and February 18th of that year, various agents of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and members of the sheriff's office, singly and in groups, visited the tavern on at least seven different occasions. The morals charges specifically targeted homosexuals, and described Hazel's as "...a resort for sexual perverts."
Full content provided here:
The Hazel's raid is also referenced in the the NorCal ACLU site: https://www.aclunc.org/blog/exploring-aclu-news-archive-intersection-pride-and-police-abuse-power
Note of Historic Importance: Because of this raid, this was the first time the ACLU represented persons who were discriminated against strictly on account of their sexual orientation.
Ultimately, Hazel was fined $25., but the resultant publicity eventually ended the existence of the bar, and brought Hazel much grief. For two years and 8 months, Hazel fought to keep her liquor license. During that time, business fell off dramatically. She felt that she was being punished for no reason, and treated as a pariah. Understandably bitter, Hazel cried: "lt's Iike a strike. Nobody routes near me any more. And after all I've done for this town. I paid plenty of taxes, and I donated 49 lots so they could put a road through here. I helped plenty of PTA people get their relatives out of the can."
She had sold her car, piano and property to pay for her defense. When asked about her future, Hazel replied: "I think I'll just go on a little vacation. If the people here paid what they owed me, I could take a whole year off. This way, I don't know how long I'll be gone. If 1 get my price, I'll sell. I still could stay open, but the profit from soft drinks and the jukebox wouldn't even pay my light and gas ."
Hazels' Motel was finally torched by firemen in March of 1961, after being condemned by the city. This was not because of law violations, but because of old age and deterioration. A man named Charles Lane was in charge of abatement of old buildings in Pacifica. Another old building set to be removed at the same time as Hazel's Motel was the Deep Six bar, also on the beach. Because of the location, structures absorbed more wear and tear than in drier climates.
Hazel continued to live upstairs in the main building, and in 1959, she sold that property to Chuck Smith and Gene Crouch, who opened the Coastside Bait & Tackle Shop. They knew that the location would be a draw, and in fact was a landmark, known far and wide as Hazel's Beach. Ultimately, in 1966, that building too was condemned, even though Hazel still lived in it. The Coastside Bait & Tackle Shop relocated, re-naming it: "Coastside Bait & Tackle Shop Number 2", new address: 1604 Francisco Blvd. By 1968, Hazel still owned property on Beach Blvd., which was being considered for development. In 1973, a building moratorium left the property "as is". The CCC also denied construction in that spot, adding to the building moratorium in Sharp Park (apartment buildings have since been built there).
In addition to the raid in 1956, Hazel went through rough times in her final years in Pacifica. There were some tragic incidents. On Sunday, January 24, 1954, Hazel discovered the bodies of two of her tenants in what proved to be a murder- suicide in one of the cabins. Lonnie Dickson Williams had shot his wife Ruby, and then turned the gun on himself. Another tragedy was the death of a man named Ray Banta in a fire caused by his cigarette, in 1961. There were also hold-ups, high tides, battles with the city and the sheriff, money depletion, and other trials that had worn her out. She wound up selling the rest of her properties, and moving to Pleasanton, Alameda County, in her last years, where she died at the age of 85 (October 18, 1892- December 1977).