San Diego Says Good Bye to an Icon, the Reuben E Lee

Posted on April 29, 2012

Reuben E LeeI was so fortunate to be there on Monday, April 23rd, 2012 the day that the Reuben E Lee was hauled away after 40 years of being docked on Harbor Island.  The Reuben E Lee is an iconic restaurant which was well ingrained in San Diego’s dining history.  I bet every San Diegan born before 1990 spent some time aboard the Reuben E Lee.  I can remember it being the obvious choice for a family get together or birthday celebration.

The Reuben E Lee was built to resemble a Mississippi river boat back in 1969.  Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t a boat but a building built on a barge.  It closed down in 2003.  Over the past several years it became decrepit, unstable and unsafe.  The decision was made to disassemble it.

On the upside, it left a great view of the San Diego skyline.  This view will not go to waste; the plan is to build another great Cohn & Deborah Scott restaurant (I hear she’s going Mexican).  The San Diego culinary scene says good-bye to an old friend, but welcomes a revived and fresh new dining establishment you know will impress!  The plan is to make this end of Harbor Island a dining complex.  It is about time San Diego builds good restaurants along the water.  Having lived in San Diego and San Francisco I see the potential San Diego has for dining along the water.  I have a feeling we are entering into a new and promising era in San Diego dining.

Below is the only video you will ever see of its fateful departure. Enjoy!




  1. Tina Davis and Blue Skies

    Ahem. The Reuben E. Lee was for years the “Hot Spot” for dancing and entertainment.
    BLUE SKIES rocked the boat for 10 years. Alan and Jim Breneman, Tina Davis, Frank Scuito and Stefan Olesten were the best band in town and the Friday and Saturday night waiting lines down the dock were long! Great days, great memories. Thank you for sharing the video. The Reuben E. Lee will be missed by many.

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