Sugar Shack owner Michele Turner among three immortalized in Surfers’ Hall of Fame
The Sugar Shack Café on Main Street in Huntington Beach was closed all day Friday.
For a Friday during the U.S. Open of Surfing, this would normally be unthinkable. In this case, the reason for the closure was pretty great.
A stone’s throw from the much-loved restaurant, owner Michele Turner — known as the “Surf Mother of Main Street” — was being inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in front of Huntington Surf & Sport.
The Surfers’ Hall of Fame celebrated its 25th anniversary with three inductees. The others to put their hands into the cement were surfer Peter Mel from Santa Cruz and surf explorer Martin Daly.
Surfers’ Hall of Fame member Brett Simpson, who was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame the day before, served as the event emcee. He and Aaron Pai, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder and HSS owner, passed microphones around so attendees could share thoughts on the Class of 2022.
During his remarks, Simpson called the Sugar Shack the most popular restaurant in Surf City. It’s a favorite breakfast spot for many locals, as well as surfers who are passing through.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Turner said when asked about serving the community over the years. “That’s the plan. If everybody did that, we would be [in a better place].”
The words she wrote in the cement? “Always be humble, kind and giving.”
“It’s a big city, but this area is a small community,” she said. “We all take care of each other.”
Turner, who took over restaurant operations for her parents more than four decades ago, was joined Friday by her three children — Ryan, Timmy and Holly — and all 11 grandchildren. Ryan and Timmy developed into standout pro surfers themselves, and both are in the Surfers’ Hall of Fame themselves.
Michele Turner’s husband, Tim, was a longtime city employee in charge of beach maintenance.
“She’s so well-deserving,” Ryan Turner said. “I’m proud of her and so happy to be her son. She’s just an awesome person. She always taught everything will always come back, to give. It all comes back to you, man. Me and my brother work there now, and I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories about what she has done for other people.”
The food, of course, is a big reason why the Sugar Shack has such devoted fans. It has been family-owned since 1967.
Pro surfer Corky Carroll, who has a long-running surf school in Huntington Beach, might have summed it up best.
“Who in this town doesn’t love Michele Turner?” Carroll said. “So many days I come out of the water freezing cold, and I’ve got to get a cup of coffee and some of Michele’s pancakes.
“She got this going,” he said, rubbing his tummy, to laughs from the audience. “It’s her fault. Bacon and eggs and pancakes.”
Mel, meanwhile, started surfing at a young age in Capitola and is also known as a surf announcer. He got a bit emotional when talking about his late mother taking him to the beach.
“I know she was being a little selfish, because she loved sun tanning,” he joked. “She’d bring me there to Capitola and let me do my thing. And now ... surfing has brought everything to my life.”
Mel made news on Jan. 8, 2021 when he caught an epic 40- to 45-foot wave at Mavericks in Northern California.
Daly is also well-known in the surf community for his boat charters that have run since the 1980s. He’s also a captain, surfer and diver.
Pai, for one, is a frequent guest on Daly’s expeditions. He said he enjoys the popcorn.
“It becomes pretty addictive once you actually realize that you can discover something,” Daly said. “If you can find waves here, and there’s no one around, then how about over there and over there and up there? I just made it a mission to do the whole coastline of Indonesia, north and south. That’s a lifetime mission, which I’ve done, every square inch of it.”
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