As an Angeleno with grandparents in San Diego, the Spanish tiled roofs of Carlsbad are a landmark that we’re 2/3rds of the way to Grandma and Grandpa Snail’s house. But as familiar as the name ‘Carlsbad’ is to me, I didn’t know that it is in reference to the spa town of Karlsbad in old Bohemia–now Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. Like Karlovy Vary, Carlsbad California has mineral springs. And that’s what caught the attention of its founding father, Gerhard Schutte, in the 1880s.
Schutte was the first president of the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company. He and vice-president D.D. Wadsworth built side by side identical mansions in their new town.
In 1919, a chef named Eddie Kentner bought the mansions, turning them into The Twin Inns. The inn (a restaurant and events location, not a hotel) happened to open in time with Prohibition, becoming a popular stop for the Hollywood crowd on their way from Los Angeles to Tijuana. The Twin Inns had liquor too. Ed “Bup” Kentner Jr. told Carlsbad Magazine for an article on The Twin Inns, “There was a call button on the back of the house for the bootleggers to use when they delivered. It’s probably still there.” Eddie Kentner with daughters Dorothy “D.D.” and Katherine “Toots”
Kentner had five children, all of whom worked at the inn, as did his wife, her parents, and her sister.
Eddie Kentner knew how to cater to tourists from working as a specialty chef on the 20th Century Limited trains. He made the Twin Inns known for their all-you-can-eat family-style chicken dinners. (The Inn had its own huge chicken farm.) At the time, it was unusual for chicken to be served without the skin. But Eddie didn’t like chicken skin, and it was more efficient to remove the skin than pluck the feathers. Eddie also brought efficiency to pea shelling, inventing a shelling machine.
Dinner went like this:
Cream of tomato soup
Salad with Thousand Island dressing
Chicken served with gravy, hash browns, peas, biscuits and corn fritters
All served in Blue Willow china
Eddie projected movies at the bar, and when Marines started flooding in from Camp Pendleton during World War II, he put in pinball and slot machines. Some Marines stole one of the plaster chickens that served as advertisement to passerby on the highway, and posted the chicken in front of the Officer’s Club at Camp Pendleton. (It was returned.)
The Kentners took in two boys, Eddie and Art Morgan, during the Depression…and put them to work, of course. Art and D.D. (in photo) married, and took over the inn when Eddie Kentner and his wife Neva retired in 1961. They ran it until Art died in 1969, when it passed to Bup and his wife, who ran it until 1984.
The Wadsworth mansion was torn down in 1950, which is why the postcard shows no evidence of “twins.” The remaining Schutte mansion is now home to offices and Ocean House restaurant, which serves a Twin Inns special on Mondays, starring chicken, of course.
Check back on Halloween to learn about the Twin Inns’ ghosts, along with other haunted locations in my postcard collection!