The Cominos Brothers & the Hotel Cominos
1919 - 1960's
George and Mike Cominos, 2 of the 8 children of Sophia Georgopoulos and Nicholas Cominos, immigrated to California from the island of Kythera. They owned and operated several restaurants before settling in Salinas, California.
In 1917 they purchased the Abbott House in Salinas. Renaming it the Hotel Cominos, they renovated and enlarged the building and by 1921 it became one of the premier hotels on the central coast of California.
As other Cominos brothers immigrated to California, they joined George and Mike as partners. The hotel employed numerous employees, 30 of which lived on the property. The hotel annex, located at the back of the hotel above the garage, housed the employees, in addition to several local company cars and guest vehicles. As other Greeks immigrated to the USA, many found their way to Salinas where the Cominos brothers also employed them.
Architect Ralph Wyckoff was responsible for both the exterior and interior design of the building. Located on the 100 block of Main Street in Salinas, the hotels gray cast-stone and stucco façade stood out amongst the other surrounding buildings. It boasted 207 rooms, a grand ballroom with a marble fireplace, and frosted glass chandeliers with gold leaf trim. There were hardwood floors throughout, except for the lobby floor, which was composed of miniature white European tiles. A large marble staircase joined the first and second floors. This hotel was one of the first hotels in Salinas to have an elevator.
Salinas was a very important town at that time and it was a major stop for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s coastline route. Essentially every dignitary who visited the Salinas Valley stayed at the hotel. Among these dignitaries were Presidents William Taft, Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge as well as every governor of California. Senators and legislators were frequent visitors as well.
The Cominos Hotel became a focal point for the town’s social life and entertainment. Numerous wedding receptions, ballroom dances, town meetings, business luncheons, and formal dinners were held at the hotel. The hotel was such an intricate part of the Salinas Valley that it is mentioned in several writings by author John Steinbeck.
“The Cominos Hotel was the gathering spot for the men who made Salinas the county seat, brought the railroad to town, created the California Rodeo and the men who made the Salinas Valley into the "Salad Bowl of the World." Indeed, this term was coined by one of the Cominos brothers. Their association with this magnificent hotel helped make the Cominos one of the most prominent Greek families in California. The Cominos Hotel was the largest non-agricultural employer in town for many years." 1.
As years passed, the hotel declined and was sold to the Patel Organization. It closed its doors in the early 1960’s and was acquired by the city of Salinas. The Monterey Historical Society, which included Cominos descendants Maria, Sophie and Nick, lobbied to have it renovated and made into a historical monument, however city officials protested that the cost would be prohibitive and money should be spent on projects more vital to city growth. Finally, after the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 caused it irreparable damage, the city chose to have it demolished to make room for a parking lot.
Photo taken in the lobby of the
Hotel Cominos in Salinas, California in the mid 1950’s.
Left to Right: Argero Alexandrides Cominos, her daughter Marionga and husband Mike Cominos; Mixalis Semitekolos, President Kytherian Association of New York, George Cominos, Helen Cominos, and Mary & John Alfieris.