Bluth banana stand to bow on Balboa Island
If area “Arrested Development” fans happen to see Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand during the Balboa Island Parade this weekend, they should know it’s not an illusion, Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry wrote in an email Thursday night.
After some lobbying to bring the banana stand through Newport Beach — hometown of the fictional Bluth clan — the tour promoting the TV show’s new season will make its final stop Sunday on Marine Avenue near the Balboa Island fire station.
“We are very pleased to welcome the Bluth banana stand and the Netflix ‘Arrested Development’ team to Newport Beach, the home of frozen bananas,” Curry wrote.
Fans can say “Annyong” to the cash-lined confection kiosk from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The parade starts at 11 a.m. but the bridge will close at 10:45 a.m. Pedestrian access will be limited to the ferry.
Earlier this month, a Netflix spokeswoman had said that there were no plans to bring the tour to Newport, despite the show’s close ties to Orange County and an outcry in the community sparked by an online petition.
That petition, started by local doctor Krupali Tejura, had 543 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
But Curry wrote that he received a call from a Netflix representative Monday, taking him up on an offer he made on public radio last week to welcome the banana stand if it swung by.
The mayor plans to give a Netflix representative a key to the city during the festivities, but didn’t know what time exactly as of Friday afternoon.
The final countdown to the resurrected series’ hotly anticipated Season 4 release is already over, however: The season was released for streaming at midnight Sunday.
And although the Bluth stand won’t be peddling any actual frozen bananas, visitors can buy them at one of the several old-fashioned banana stands nearby.
What could it cost? Ten dollars?
Actually, at Sugar ‘n Spice, which opened in 1945 as the first frozen banana vendor on the island, you can get one (with all the fixings) for $2.50 to $3.95, said owner Helen Connolly.
Customers, she said, first “decide what size [banana] they want.”
“And then we dip them in chocolate,” Connolly said. At Sugar ‘n Spice, you can get a free double dip. “It’s all inclusive — such a deal,” she said with a laugh.
Connolly, who’s owned the shop since 1995, said all the “Arrested Development"-inspired attention has been good for business up and down Marine Avenue, the island’s main commercial district.
“If people are successful in their business, along the way it helps everyone,” she said, adding that she’s started selling Bluth banana stand T-shirts. “I’m going to put a banner up across the take-out window — ‘The inspiration for the Bluth banana shack.’ I think it’s just going to help all around.”
“Arrested Development” wasn’t the first TV show to spark a frozen banana renaissance, Connolly said.
When nighttime teen soap “The OC” was in its heyday back in the early to mid aughts, Connolly said she remembered “girls from over in England, saying ‘Oh my God, do you know them?’” asking about signed photographs of cast members hanging in the shop.
“I think anything that the film business does or TV or whatever,” can translate into more visitors, she said. “We’re so oriented to celebrity of any kind.”
Gary Sherwin, president of Visit Newport Beach, the city’s marketing arm, said in a statement that the city is excited to host the Bluth booth.
“There couldn’t be a better time to celebrate the frozen banana than during the 20th annual Balboa Island Parade, with thousands of homeowners, locals and guests who love Balboa Island,” he said.
Tejura, however, could think of a better time: when she’s back in the country.
Reached on vacation in Istanbul, she said she’s scheduled to return to the states Sunday night.
“I’m happy, but I’m disappointed that I can’t be there, especially since I wrote the petition,” she said. “I would’ve loved to be there.”
Still, she said she hoped others would come out to enjoy the fun.
Connolly said she’s ready for the crowds.
“Stop by and we’ll make you a frozen banana,” she said.