Toasting a Long Beach icon

New bar at MADE by Millworks named after Elinor Otto, 99, an original ‘Rosie the Riveter’

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Toasting a Long Beach icon

Elinor Otto, an original “Rosie the Riveter,” in a recent and older photo

Elinor Otto, an original “Rosie the Riveter,” in a recent and older photo

Courtesy Spiritof45.org

Elinor Otto, an original “Rosie the Riveter,” in a recent and older photo

Courtesy Spiritof45.org

Courtesy Spiritof45.org

Elinor Otto, an original “Rosie the Riveter,” in a recent and older photo

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Women’s History Month is a fitting time to raise a glass to the powerful women who’ve helped shape us. Now, there’s a new place to do that.

Yesterday, MADE by Millworks in Long Beach– a female-owned-and-operated art gallery, local-crafts shop and event venue– added Elinor to its operations: a bar named after one of the city’s original “Rosie the Riveters,” 99-year-old Long Beach resident Elinor Otto.

MADE owner Michelle Molina said that the bar honors barrier-breaking women like Otto.

“Men break barriers all the time, too,” Molina told the Signal Tribune. “But women have to work twice as hard to get there.”

As to their choice of the bar’s name, Molina and Heather Kern, MADE’s creative director, said that it stems from taking pride in being a woman-owned and -managed business.

“We were thinking of iconic female symbols and recalled hearing about Elinor Otto,” Molina said. “The fact that there is a tie into Long Beach history sealed the deal.”

Molina and Kern added that their building at 240 Pine Ave. is 12,500 square feet but only 8,000 was being used by the five-year-old MADE’s art galleries, shop and event space.

“It made sense that we would add a beer and wine bar to the alley entrance adjacent to our event/music space, Nuts N’ Bolts,” Kern said.

Courtesy MADE
Elinor, a new drinkery located within MADE by Millworks at 240 Pine Ave. in Long Beach, had its grand opening Thursday, March 21– National Rosie the Riveter Day. The bar is named after Elinor Otto, 99, an original “Rosie.”

Located at the back of the building, Elinor was formerly MADE’s loading dock, and its atmosphere is somewhat industrial, with its alley entrance, cement floors, steel airducts and chain-link fencing– but awash in a glossy lipstick-red.

Elinor serves craft beers, wines and non-alcoholic beverages made by local, independent or women-owned companies. Patrons can also enjoy a pool table, cult-classic movies and free Wi-Fi.

Otto herself is tickled about the bar concept, saying, “Oh, how sweet!” when Molina and Kern told her about it. As of press time, she was scheduled to have attended Elinor’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Fittingly, MADE chose March 21– National Rosie the Riveter Day– for Elinor’s opening.
Women like Otto– a single mother who went to work in 1942 wielding a rivet gun to build aircrafts– modeled an alternative to the messages Molina and Kern had grown up with, they said.

“When I was a girl, we seemed to have about five choices of careers presented to us,” Molina said. “I heard ‘nurse not doctor,’ ‘teacher not principal,’ ‘secretary not lawyer,’ ‘designer not builder,’ and so I have always admired women who defy these perceptions that I had.”

National Rosie the Riveter Day was only officially recognized in 2016, the result of a Congressional resolution. As reported in the Signal Tribune, Otto helped plant a Rosie the Riveter rosebush to help commemorate the event on March 25 that year at the Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center at Clark Avenue and E. Conant Street in Long Beach, along with Congressmember Alan Lowenthal.

Lowenthal had told Otto that she was now part of the Congressional record.

“We presented and talked about you and this park,” he said. “What it means and the importance of dedicating the park close to all the people who worked at Douglas Aircraft, and all the women who really participated in the war effort, [in] whatever way they did to save this democracy.”

“It’s an honor,” Otto had replied.

Neena Strichart | Signal Tribune
In this 2017 photo, U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal honors all ‘Rosies’ following National Rosie the Riveter Day designation by Congress

The resolution commends the 16 million women during World War II who had “left their homes to work or volunteer full-time in factories, farms, shipyards, airplane factories, banks and other institutions in support of the armed forces overseas.”

It further notes that these women “drove trucks, riveted airplane parts, collected critical materials, rolled bandages and served on rationing boards.”

Linda Laurie of Spirit of ‘45, an organization that promotes the legacy of the World War II generation, had told the Signal Tribune that Otto was the oldest working “Rosie” and had only stopped working at Boeing in 2014, when she was 95– but not by choice.

“Boeing closed the plant [where Otto worked],” Laurie said, “not because she was ready to retire.”

Molina and Kern said they seek to infuse their bar Elinor with Otto’s spirit.

“Elinor– and the women she worked with– not only broke barriers, but also were humble patriots,” Molina said. “That is honorable beyond reproach.”