Going bananas for a stand

Krupali Tejura wants a frozen banana stand in Newport Beach. No, not Dad's or Sugar 'N Spice or any of the other venerable spots around town.

She wants that banana stand.

Earlier this month, media outlets announced that Netflix would promote new episodes of the revived TV comedy "Arrested Development" by touring the show's fictitious Bluth's Original Frozen Banana stand in the United States and England. Apparently, though, the promotion doesn't include a stop in Newport, where the series takes place.

For many residents, who consider the show a source of cultural pride, that oversight amounts to a snub. And since Tejura created a Change.org petition Tuesday afternoon urging Netflix to bring Bluth's to its rightful home, more than 150 people have signed it.

Will the campaign do the trick? Tejura, a doctor who lives in Newport, figured it was worth finding out.

"Why not?" she said. "You won't know unless you try. That's my theory."

Tejura learned about the promotion when she read a story in OC Weekly, which noted that the banana stand would stop at select locations but that Netflix had announced no plans for Newport. (It's unclear whether the stand making the rounds is actually the one used in the show.) Soon after, Tejura logged onto Change.org and posted a one-sentence petition: "Please Bring the Bluth Banana Stand to Newport Beach, California."

The "Arrested Development" Twitter feed mentioned tour stops in London, New York and Los Angeles in a May 8 posting and has tracked its progress since at Leicester Square, Yankee Stadium and elsewhere. Could Netflix work in a visit to Newport as well? Officials did not return messages Wednesday and Thursday.

Regardless, the company ought to get a chorus of thanks if it amends its travel plans. Less than 48 hours after Tejura started her campaign, the page on Change.org was dotted with supporters' "Arrested Development"-related comments: "What could it cost? Ten dollars?" "Come on!" And, of course, "There's money in the banana stand!"

That last line — with the word "always" inserted before "money" — is a favorite catchphrase in "Arrested Development" lore. Family patriarch George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor) repeats the words several times to his son Michael (Jason Bateman), then bellows them in frustration after the younger Bluth lets the banana stand burn to the ground. Michael was unaware that his father meant the message literally: The walls concealed $250,000 in cash.

Newport resident Nancy Fries, who said she watched the entire series to date with her son, considered that moment one of its comic high points. Once, she said, she saw Bateman in person and fought the urge to say the line.

"I had to bite my lip," said Fries, who works as a freelance writer and was among the first to sign Tejura's petition. "I wanted to whisper to him, 'There's money in the banana stand.'"

Is there money in the banana stand — of the tourist revenue kind — for Newport? Jeff Soto, the director of public relations and communications for the marketing bureau Newport Beach & Company, said the portable business could bring in tax dollars, but more importantly, it would serve as a celebration for a key part of the city's cultural history.

While there's no telling who first had the idea of dunking a cold banana in chocolate and nuts, Newport is believed to be the home of the original frozen banana stand — courtesy of entrepreneur Don Phillips, who opened it circa 1940 on the Balboa Peninsula. As far as Soto is concerned, that makes Newport a more meaningful destination for the stand than Yankee Stadium.

"They're taking it to the House That Ruth Built, but it's the dessert that Don built," he said. "We'd love it to be here."

The city, Soto added, offered several possible locations for the stand: on the Balboa Pier, on Balboa Island, even on the Balboa Island Ferry making the trip back and forth from the peninsula.

"I have no better vision than seeing the stand on the ferry," Soto said.

Another official on board: Mayor Keith Curry, who said Tejura emailed him Thursday morning and that he planned to sign the petition. He noted that he expected the entire City Council to support the campaign, at least in spirit.

"Who could not be for frozen bananas?" he said.

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