Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Island Surf: Coronado’s Oldest Surf Shop

Coronado’s first family of surfing, the Granillos – owners and operators of Coronado Island Surf.

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From left, Hana, Courtney, Manny and Kelly. Photo by Joe Ditler.

Island Surf Carries on Legacy of Giving Back

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CORONADO – In 1972 a local resident, Bob “Du-Ray” Duryea, had the idea that maybe, just maybe, a surf shop would do well nestled amidst the liquor stores, gas stations and thrift shops on the city’s main street.

He opened Du-Ray’s Surf Shop and to his amazement it became one of the most popular businesses on the island. It began as a little shop where surfers could buy wax, buy surfboards and share the stoke – a popular hang out for locals.

As Du-ray’s grew, the owner began to employ young high school kids to work the counter. Thus a tradition and legacy had begun in tiny Coronado that survives today.

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Bob “Dewey” Duryea, founder of Coronado’s first surf shop.

Today the shop is called Island Surf and, while in the same location as the original store, it is owned by Manny Granillo. Manny started working at Du-Ray’s in 1977, alongside Du-Ray’s son Tom – just a couple of school kids learning the trade from the master. While Manny owns and operates the store, Tom remains involved repairing surfboards, paddleboards, and anything that has to do with fiberglass.

Tall, athletic, handsome, Manny Granillo is the image one would expect of a Southern California surfer. At 52 he remains one of the best surfers and paddlers on the island. Although he doesn’t compete any longer (he won several surfing and paddling competitions), this husband and father of two is the epitome of soul surfing. His appreciation for surfing and paddling transcend the competition aspect of the sports, and his life now is dedicated to sharing that with others.

Courtney and Manny Granillo, Coronado’s first family of surfing.

As one of the first surf shops in Southern California at the time, Du-Ray’s brought surfing and skateboarding together in a big way. The skateboards had metal wheels. Surfers hadn’t yet discovered short surfboards, multiple fins, wetsuits, or even leashes.

“I was only 15 when I started working here,” said Manny. Bob Duryea was quite the character. All his friends had nicknames, like Rat, Snake, Crow, Kingfish, Joker, Hulk and Chiseler. It was that generation where everyone seemed to have a nickname. These guys were right out of the movies with their personalities and nicknames. And Bob was the leader – a very talented surfer and motorcycle rider in his day. He had it all, and was generous to a fault, and a great provider to the ones he really cared about.”

From left, Manny Granillo, Dale Velzy and Tommy Duryea.

Over the years Du-Ray introduced Manny to such legendary surfers and shapers as Dale Velzy and Donald Takayama. While they are dead now, Manny had long relationships with all three men, and their influence on him as a person and as a surfer is evident.

“I can’t stress how important an influence those three men were on my life,” he said. “Duryea, Takayama, Velzy, they were the great ones in this industry. My wife and I had moved to Vail, Colorado to ski for a few thousand days,” he laughed. “One day I got a call from the Duyrea family. They asked if I wanted to buy the store. We came home to Coronado, checked it out, and here we are today, twenty years later.”

Manny Granillo and his mentor, Donald Takayama.

Today Manny Granillo and his wife Courtney have two young daughters and the legacy of Du-Ray’s lives strong in Island Surf. On any given day Manny’s own daughters, Hana and Kelly, can be found working in the store. Joe Cowan, who started working in the store at age 15, is still behind the counter. As is Eric Van Buren, a young man who goes by the initials EVB. “Eric is our very political manager at the shop. He’s a surfboard shaper, photographer and fine wine connoisseur all rolled into one package,” laughed Manny.

The store is less than 1,000 square feet, but the ceiling is 12 feet high, so Manny utilizes every inch that he can. Surfboards line the ceiling, the walls, and are stacked in the rear for sale or rent.

There are short boards, longboards and skateboards. There are wetsuits, rash guards, Boogie boards, soft boards and even stand up paddleboards. With the influx of summer crowds, the comfort items move quickly – T-shirts, sunglasses, hats and sandals – and it’s Manny’s job to keep them stocked.

“We try to produce an inventory that includes quality surfboards in the long, short and egg sizes and shapes,” said Manny. “If you can sell a customer a board they really like, you have a friend and a customer for life. Then, if they have a friend who needs a board, or kids, they rely on you from there on out. We are delighted to have so many friends in the community who continue to support us on a regular basis. They’ve become our extended family.”

A large part of his customer base is the military. “We’re very proud of our military servicemen and women,” said Manny. “We always make sure to give them a military discount. We appreciate their patronage. They have been among the most loyal of our customers on the island.”

As he is able, Island Surf helps local charities on an annual basis. In addition to supporting the Coronado Schools Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Program, Island Surf donates to the Coronado Yacht Club junior sailing program, as well as many of the locally sponsored surfing and paddling competitions.

Over the decades, Manny has seen many changes and fads come and go. Where there were once just longboards, there are now a plethora of shapes and sizes. Windsurfers came and went, lay down paddleboards were very popular years ago and are making a comeback. At the moment, SUPs are currently the rage. Part of the fun of running a surf shop is keeping up on all the trends and new inventions.

“We just started carrying these new skateboards with light up wheels,” said Manny with a kid-like smile. “They have wheels that light up in clear light, or green, blue and pink, so you can see them at night. There’s a magnet inside the wheel so when it spins, it creates energy. No batteries to wear out. I just got a bunch of them in and they are proving to be the must-have item for kids this summer.”

Another role they fulfill is Beach-101. “We get a lot of tourists in the store who want to surf or SUP but have never been in the ocean,” said Manny. “We try to indoctrinate them when we can. If the children are particularly thin, we put them in rash guards or wetsuits to keep warm. We tell them to take their SUPs into the bay for an easier experience. Then we explain to the kids about the Stingray Shuffle, so they don’t ruin their first beach experience by stepping on a stingray. The whole idea is to help them have a good experience, and one to remember.”

Island Surf has been likened to Coro-Mart, a one-stop-shop that once served Coronadans on the island. “I don’t mind that sort of comparison,” said Manny. “Coro-Mart was a huge success, and their entire business model was based on word of mouth promotions, friendly and consistent service, and being there when they were needed. All of those things describe Island Surf.”

When Bob Duryea died two years ago, there was a box of photos and letters that ended up in Manny’s hands. “These were photos of and letters from adults who had once worked for Du-Ray as kids in the surf shop. They went on to be successful as pilots, attorneys, brokers and war heroes. And yet, they never forgot Du-Ray. That meant a lot to him, right up until his dying day.

Joe Cowan (left) and Eric Van Buren, who create much of the daily magic at Island Surf. Photo by Joe Ditler.

“One of the greatest feelings in my heart is for the kids who have worked for me over the years. I too have seen them grow up to become doctors, lawyers, Navy fighter pilots and officers, school teachers, SEAL Team members – just as Du-Ray did. All you can do is try and be the best role model you can to the kids around you. Just as Du-Ray, Velzy and Takayama were for me, I try to fill that role for the kids around me today. It’s a birthright of the store, but I take great pride in the accomplishments of these kids. That’s the legacy of Island Surf, and one I’m proud to have inherited. It’s the greatest part of my job.”

Manny surfing The Rock in Cabo San Lucas. Photo by Courtney Granillo.

On September 7, Manny will sponsor the Island Surf Paddleboard Relay, benefiting the Coronado Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. The event will take place at Coronado Yacht Club.

Island Surf is located at 1009 Orange Avenue. Hours are flexible depending on the season. Winter hours are 10-6 daily. In the summer they open a little earlier and stay open a bit later. For more information on the store or the upcoming Island Surf Paddleboard Relay, call (619) 435-1527, or visit www.islandsurfcoronado.com.

This article was created by Part-Time PR, serving all of Coronado’s public relations needs. To find out how your company can make more noise in the community, write or call josephditler@san.rr.com or (619) 435-0767.

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Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call joeditler@gmail.com, or (619) 742-1034.
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