Los Angeles is not known for preserving its history.
The restaurant scene isn’t much different. If you own an eating establishment that lasts more than five years, you’re considered a smashing success. Sadly, the demise of many of Los Angeles’ most treasured restaurants, such as Chasen’s, Perino’s, and the Hollywood Brown Derby, have left holes in our hearts that will never be filled.
But if you look around the neighborhood, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of iconic Los Angeles restaurants that are standing tall and strong. Mexican restaurants El Coyote and El Cholo have 178 years between them. Lawry’s the Prime Rib, Musso & Frank Grill, Taylor’s Steakhouse, Canters and Pink’s are other mainstays that we can’t fathom living without. But how did they do it? How did they beat the “here today, gone tomorrow” system?
“We’re a family-run business and we’re here every single day to make sure everything is done properly,” says 4th generation Jacqueline Canter of Canter’s Deli, 419 N. Fairfax Ave., established in 1931. “We treat our employees with respect, we own the property, we buy the finest quality ingredients and sell it at the lowest prices.”
El Coyote, established in 1931, and El Cholo, 1923, have loyal followings as well. Regulars can’t get enough of El Cholo’s (1121 S. Western Ave.) famous green corn tamales, available May through October, while those who frequent El Coyote, 7312 Beverly Blvd., are drawn to the kitschy décor, solid Mexican food and the “magic” of the restaurant.
“The magic is created through the employees,” says Margie Christoffersen, niece of founders George and Blanche March. “We care about the customers and the employees. It’s a happy, healing, loving place that serves wonderful food at great prices and makes the best margaritas in the world.”
For those who crave a hot dog smothered in chili, there’s no place else to go but Pink’s at 709 N. La Brea Ave. Founded by Paul and Betty Pink in 1939, the famous hot dog stand is now run by their son, Richard Pink, his wife, Gloria, and sister, Beverly Pink.
If you’re willing to stand in line, sometimes 50 people deep or more, you’ll be treated to one of the town’s most famous food offerings. The expansive menu offers 32 different hot dogs and 12 different hamburgers, including turkey dogs and burgers. Also on the menu are fries and onion rings.
The company has expanded to other locations including San Diego, Las Vegas, Connecticut and Ohio.
When it comes to a hearty serving of red meat, you can’t go wrong with Lawry’s the Prime Rib, opened by Lawrence “Lawry” Frank and Walter Van de Kamp in 1938, or Taylor’s Steakhouse, established in 1953.
Lawry’s The Prime Rib, 100 N. La Cienega Blvd., served one single entrée when it first opened—the standing rib roast. Today, the Beverly Hills restaurant is also known for its signature “spinning salad” (prepared tableside by a server who spins a large metal bowl of greens atop a bed of ice), lobster tails, a giant baked potato, Yorkshire pudding and an ice cream sundae topped with hot fudge from the recipe of now-gone C.C. Brown’s that was Downtown and on Hollywood Blvd. for a total of 90 years before closing in 1996.
Describing Lawry’s, third generation president and CEO Richard R. Frank says, “The original concept was crazy genius. My grandfather envisioned a tasty meal served tableside and executed properly. It’s a concept that has broad appeal to different generations, kids and adults alike. Our secret weapon is our staff, who care about our guests and serve high quality food at a good value.”