The Reef Restaurant Long Beach
Wedding Venue Review
880 Harbor Scenic Dr.
Long Beach, CA 90802-6303
Phone: (562) 435-8013
Since 1958 The Reef has offered its guests an elegant yet relaxing and romantic dining environment. Boasting “the best view in Long Beach” no matter where you are seated in the restaurant you will experience the breathtaking vision of the downtown Long Beach skyline from across the Queensway Harbor.
The Reef has six beautiful banquet rooms, two outdoor ceremony locations and a variety of personalized packages to accommodate any special occasion or private event. The professional staff in the catering department at the Reef specializes in the arrangement of wedding ceremonies and receptions, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, engagement parties and birthday parties for any social gathering, as well as a wide variety of corporate functions such as; breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings (with or without breakout rooms), retirement parties, awards presentations and holiday parties.
What Type Of Bridal Couple Would Like This Place?
I've been very up on the city of Long Beach for a location to host a wedding reception due to it's proximity between Los Angeles and Orange County. It's hard to miss The Reef. If you can find the Queen Mary it's next to it on the north side. As you may recall if you are familiar with the Queen Mary it sits in a channel. Thus you are due west of the Long Beach shore looking back at Long Beach toward Pine Avenue. To be exact the place directly across from The Reef is Shoreline Park which is next to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The channel is nearly a half a mile which makes a wonderful view. Next to the Reef is the Maya Hotel. The Maya is an upscale hotel offering high end weddings. Thus the Reef is located in a well sought after neighborhood. The Reef is unique in that it's a restaurant but it has large banquet rooms. I've done weddings in the two larger one. They are nice and large and on the ground floor. For those wishing to get married on sight they have a beautiful rooftop deck that boasts of the beautiful Long Beach view as the backdrop for your ceremony.
It took me a few times of working at The Reef to figure out where the photographic potential is located. A lot of photographers would want to use the front of the Restaurant for pictures. The problem with this is that people are constantly walking in and out of the venue. Of coruse it only gets worse if everybody from an off sight wedding shows up exactly at the same time from the church at The Reef. You simply won't be able to get many shots. Some photographers nearly insist on shooting everything in the shade so if you go with them for your wedding photography expect to do a lot of waiting. There are nicer aspects of the grounds but they are in the sunshine. There is greenery around the property and parks and of course lots of water attractions close by. There is even a Gazeebo on the property for smaller weddigns thought I've never had a wedding on this side of the property.
Possible Distractions/ Work Around
For those without GPS it's not as easy to find as it seems like it should be. If everybody gets there at once the parking staff can get overwhelmed and you'll lose time looking for a parking spot. The interior is a bit dark whch can be good or bad depending upon who your photographer is. There are some neat places to take pictures closeby but they are a bit of a walk. Since this is a popular place there is the potential of another wedding happening at the venue while yours is happening as well. That and the fact that its also a restaurant means that there are tons and tons of people around the property. But the property is so large that for the most part it's like having a wedding at a hotel. Yes there are people around but they aren't in your space.
Nobody knows me at the Reef. I've briefly met a few members of the staff. They've told me that they can do around 7 weddings in a day. When I think of a venue like the Reef, one that is busy, and I keep going to even though I'm not on their referral list I think that it's one of the more relevant venues in Southern California. The venue reviews are written for places brides actually select, not ones where I have great relationships with. The Reef is a stand out location, especially if you're looking for a venue with a view of the ocean and a good value.
During my original review of this place I mentioned that this place is 10 years overdo for a remodel. I think they must have heard me because I have noticed that they have made improvements. The bride's room used to look like broom closet, now it's cute. The restaurant is getting cleaner and nicer. I can tell there is more pride of ownership going on at the Reef. I'm not one to suggest that the Reef tear down the restaurant and put up a high end restaurant. The good thing about the Reef is that the initial loans for the land and building were paid off a long time ago. Thus they can afford to price their venue a bit more reasonably.
This place is a darker, older restaurant. If you are looking for bright, fresh paint and lively The Hilton
across the freeway is more likely your scene. If you want a somewhat affordable experience on the water this place is it. The darker rooms are really designed so that you can see the pretty lights at night from across the channel. Long Beach has a host of strong venue choices and this certainly one of them. The food and service seem to be good. Compared to other venues we've seen this place offers a great bang for the buck. It's large and has a lot of hustle and bustle going for it. This place is different because it's a restaurant that does weddings. There aren't that many restaurants that do weddings as compared to golf courses and hotels.
The Reef has a lot of things going for it including location, view, proximity to the ocean, affordability. That being said this place isn't a natural for photography. A photographer has to have a much better game plan than normal when working here. An inexperienced photographer will give lackluster results at this location.
I've long been very keen on Long Beach as a city for wedding venues because people from deep into the IE, The San Fernando Valley and most of San Diego County can attend your wedding without needing to get a hotel room. The Reef is a must see venue if you are considering a Long Beach wedding. The Eastern most part of Long Beach to consider is the Lakewood Country Club
. If you're planning a wedding from a distance and have limited time to visit venues Long Beach is a natural choice.
About the online reviews I've read
When I read the reviews on one of the more popular review sites the vast majority of bad reviews had to do with the restaurant, not weddings. This place is freaking huge and they turn out many meals in a month, much more than an average restaurant.
The thing I've noticed is that when people are happy with a good or service it's what they expect, it meets expectations, or exceeds expectations. For example, if you've had a nice flight and a smooth landing during your last trip do you post about it Facebook? What if you found the service to be rude or they nearly had a crash landing, do you post about it then? It's not good or bad or anything in between, it's just human nature.
This restaurant is located near the Maya Hotel. For two pieces of property near each other you'll pay considerably different prices for your wedding. The Reef isn't the Ritz Carlton nor will you get the Ritz Carlton wedding experience. If the Ritz Carton experience is important to you there are a fair number of Ritz Carlton properties in Southern California. Be prepared to pay accordingly.
I've been an outspoken advocate for middle class weddings in Southern California. It seems that when there is a view of the ocean the prices go through the roof. This makes beach types weddings out of reach for the middle class. If there is someplace that is affordable it usually has it's own problems such as poor parking or a very cramped venue. The Reef isn't cramped, it's can hold medium to large size weddings, and it won't send you to the poor house. It's not perfect, but it's certainly better than the negative reviews I've read online.
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