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Don the Beachcomber's Art Snyder Dies

The 79-year-old restaurant owner and former politician died today, leaves behind three children.

Locals today are mourning the passing of Art Snyder, the 79-year-old owner of the Don the Beachcomber in Sunset Beach.

Snyder died in his sleep three days shy of his 80th birthday, according to the management of the Huntington Beach restaurant he owned.

Snyder purchased the Don the Beachcomber brand and in 2009 bought the Huntington Beach restaurant named after the famous, free-spirited Don Beach, the father of tiki restaurants and reputed inventor of the mai tai cocktail.

The restaurant released a statement today saying the thrice-married father of three ``will leave a legacy for ages to come, but what he left in everyone's hearts will last a lifetime.''

Snyder was a regular presence at the restaurant and served as its ``ambassador,'' said Mona Shah-Anderson, a former consultant for the eatery.

Burial plans were pending, but a celebration of his life is planned for 3-8 p.m. Saturday at Don the Beachcomber.

Snyder was a former Los Angeles city councilman, lawyer and lobbyist, whose political career was derailed by an influence-peddling scheme. He served on the City Council from 1967 to 1985, representing an Eastside district that included El Sereno, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and part of Los Feliz.

Snyder became a successful lobbyist after leaving the council. But his career was derailed when he was accused of illicitly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to state and city candidates through a network of associates and his law firm between 1989 and 1992.

To avoid a trial on felony conspiracy charges, Snyder pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanor counts involving the laundering of campaign contributions. He was sentenced to six months in jail, fined $216,000 and banned from representing clients at City Hall for a four-year period.

Snyder appealed and won a stay of the sentence. A three-judge appellate panel subsequently dismissed the convictions, unanimously ruling that Snyder's failure to report all contributions he made through others could, at most, subjected him to civil fines.

In 2001, Snyder had his law license suspended for six months by the State Bar, which also put him on probation for three years. The former U.S. Marine captain and USC Law School graduate admitted to ``moral turpitude'' and cooperated with the State Bar's investigation and probation, according to the Bar's website.
That same year, he bought Don the Beachcomber, a community hub for events and tight-nit regulars in Seal Beach and Surfside. The restaurant hosts fundraisers for local causes and community-members in need and offers a venue for local musicians and artists.

On facebook Wednesday, residents reacted to the news.

“Arthur was a good man with a great heart,” wrote Melissa Anchondo.” He will be truly missed.”

 - City News Service

wayne avrashow November 08, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I had the honor of observing and learning from Art when I was a deputy to two other City Councilmembers and then I practiced law with him. A charming rogue who understood human nature and motives. He loved life...he was the Original. Wayne Avrashow Way, brilliant, irrascable,
enea ostrich November 08, 2012 at 05:56 PM
He will be missed. He wasn't just the owner of Don the Beachcomber. I never knew anyone nicer, unless it was family at home and good friends who greet you and make you feel at home whenever you come visit. In his later years he was content with owning this wonderful place, and although the restaurant part of it was a bit pricey, the tiki bar was what made it an icon and a place to be reckoned with in the area. I truly hope the family can keep it going but if they don't, then I hope the next owner turns it into a complete tiki bar and entertainment only center. The food is good there but deserves to be simplified and let the bar be it's guide. It is a winner right there with top drinks that anyone who has been to a tiki bar can truly appreciate. The bartenders there are super awesome and they deserve for this place to keep existing, even without Art there. The place won't be the same without him, but it could be a place to honor his memory and keep alive what he truly loved before he died--an oasis away from all the chaos in life

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