David Tallichet

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David Compton Tallichet Jr. (December 20, 1922 - October 31, 2007) was a United States businessman, noted as the father of the themed restaurant although his first themed restaurant was preceded by several well known restaurants with the same theme.[1] He also owned a significant number of classic military aircraft.

Early life[edit]

Born in Dallas, Texas, Tallichet graduated from the University of the South in Tennessee, the University of Texas at Dallas; he later attended Southern Methodist University in Texas, but left before completing his English degree.

US Army Air Forces[edit]

Joining the United States Army Air Forces, he was deployed to Europe during World War II, initially flying as co-pilot on a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. His crew became part of the 350th Bombardment Squadron, which joined the 100th Bombardment Group, based at RAF Thorpe Abbotts, in February 1945. Flying over 20 missions, they flew in an aircraft called Spirit of Pittwood. After the end of hostilities, Tallichet flew transport aircraft on missions supporting the rebuilding of the war-torn continent.[2]

On return to the United States, he joined the New Mexico Air National Guard, flying the P-51 Mustang. Tallichet remained on active reserve status in the United States Air Force until 1957.


After the end of hostilities in Europe, Tallichet joined the Hilton Hotels. In 1955 he was managing the Lafayette Hotel in Long Beach, California, which hosted a Miss Universe beauty pageant; he later married the contestant from Indiana.


In 1958, Tallichet and SeaWorld founder George Millay formed Specialty Restaurants Corporation, a destination-restaurant business. Their first location was a Polynesian-themed Reef in Long Beach, California,[3] and the second was Castaway in Burbank, California.[4] At that time, a restaurant with an exotic "theme" was a daring innovation.[citation needed] Twenty years later, funny or exotic restaurant themes had become a well-accepted part of the American landscape.[citation needed] Tallichet continued to design, finance and build more than 100 other restaurants across the U.S., including the Proud Bird adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport, and 94th Aero Squadron near Van Nuys Airport. Tallichet's experience as a military aviator in World War II had a profound effect on the themes and designs of many of those restaurants.

Military Aircraft Restoration Corp[edit]

Tallichet formed Military Aircraft Restoration Corp., a subsidiary of the restaurant company, to manage his vintage aircraft collection. Inspired by a trip to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in the early 1960s, his first purchases were: P-51 Mustang for $13,000; B-25 Mitchell bomber; Korean War MiG jet; P-40 Tomahawk; B-29 bomber; and a Martin B-26 Marauder. Many of the organization's later aircraft were recovered wrecks from the Pacific Ocean, often around Papua New Guinea.[5]

Tallichet enjoyed flying his aircraft, and on hearing about the proposed production of the movie Memphis Belle, offered to fly his own B17 across the Atlantic Ocean to enable production. At one point numbering over 120 aircraft, he slowly reduced the holding from the late 1990s, to around 50 at the time of his death.

The company also made replica classic military aircraft for use as props in films, including Pearl Harbor and Collateral Damage, and which later extended into producing entrance themes for aircraft museums.

Personal life[edit]

Tallichet was married to Cecilia, and the couple who lived in Long Beach then Newport Beach, had four children: John, Catherine Ann, William (Bill), James and grandchildren Ashley, Catherine, Bryan, and Lauren. His sister, film actress Margaret Tallichet, was the longtime wife of renowned film director William Wyler.

Tallichet died at his home in Orange, California, of complications from prostate cancer, on October 31, 2007.[6]


  1. ^ "Trader Vic's in Oakland, CA". 
  2. ^ http://www.airportjournals.com/Display.cfm?varID=0801009
  3. ^ "Home - The Reef Long Beach". www.reefrestaurant.com. 
  4. ^ "burbank - Castaway Restaurant". www.castawayrestaurant.com. 
  5. ^ PacificWrecks.com. "Pacific Wrecks". 
  6. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (11 November 2007). "David Tallichet, 84; WWII pilot preserved historic planes" – via LA Times. 

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