Support Your Local Favorites

In our constantly changing world where nothing is forever and what is “here today” can be “gone tomorrow,” it is imperative to support businesses, stores and restaurants that you really like and want to have around as long as possible. I grew up in Burbank, and when I start thinking about the places that I used to frequent and are now gone, it makes me appreciate the places that are still with us even more. For instance:
I think about what Toluca Lake village used to be and how it has changed. The main drag of storefronts on Riverside Drive is hardly recognizable from what it once was. I remember restaurants like Sorrentino’s, The China Trader, Alphonse’s, The Money Tree, The King’s Arms and The Wild Goose. I even miss the Copper Penny coffee shop on Pass Ave. across from Warner Bros. (And there used to be an International House of Pancakes there.)
Speaking of restaurants across from Warner Bros., don’t forget El Chiquita across from the main gate. That was one of our regular haunts when I was in the story department at Disney. Other regular places we used to go to in those days included Alphonse’s, Jason’s, The Balkan House and Chadney’s. We’d joke about Pago Pago, the little bar across the street from the Disney studio, but I never went in there, and as far as I know, neither did anyone I worked with.
Food Giant was the big grocery store on the corner of Pass Ave. and Alameda when I was a kid. They had a Brookdale ice cream counter inside near the front door where my dad bought his favorite sherbet flavor, Strawberry Crush. I still miss Lakeside Pharmacy, a real, old-fashioned neighborhood drugstore. Then there was that great, old drug store with the soda fountain/lunch counter that was across that little street from Warner’s on Olive. I don’t remember the name, it might have been called Studio Drugs or something, but it had a Popeye weathervane on top of the building.
Meanwhile, just down the road in Magnolia Park, there was my neighborhood drugstore, Albin’s. A wonderful place right on the corner of Magnolia and Hollywood Way. I can still taste the hamburgers, fries and milk shakes that they made in the restaurant at the back. The shakes were filled to the top of the glass and they’d bring you the rest of it in the icy-cold metal shaker; Albin’s had everything. Next door, there was a gift store, and next to that a ladies’ millinery shop. Newberry Five and Dime was on the same block, then a children’s shoe store, then the stationary store on the corner. Albin’s also had a wonderful toy store up the street on Hollywood Way. It’s the train store now.
South of Albin’s drug store, also on Hollywood Way, was The Blarney Stone Restaurant, the place where we would go as a family for birthday celebrations. Eddie was our favorite waiter who always took such good care of us. There was a Currie Mile High ice cream parlor on Magnolia and a Piggily Wiggily market. The two neighborhood movie theaters were the Magnolia and the California.
Akron was a big store that specialized in imports, mostly moderately-priced, quasi-exotic home furnishings. For a high-quality, traditional furniture store, the place to go was Elliot’s on Pass Avenue and Riverside Drive. We had a great A & W Root Beer stand in the neighborhood when they still served the root beer in icy mugs.
We can be thankful that we still have local standbys such as Dana Drugs and Shear Pleasure Barber Shop. Bob’s Big Boy is still serving up their double-decker hamburgers and spaghetti with chili. And you can still get the best garlic bread in the world at the wonderful Smokehouse Restaurant. Dinner at the Smokehouse is always special, although their cheeseburger with steak fries is my favorite for lunch.
If you get a hankering for scrumptious, light-as-a-feather tea cakes, Martino’s Bakery is still around, although in a new location on Victory Boulevard. Their birthday cakes are the best! Chili John’s is at their same old location on Burbank Boulevard and their chili and beans is as good as ever. The Granada, still my all-time favorite Mexican restaurant, is very much with us in their original location on Victory (try the number 13 combination plate). Tally Rand is still here, as is the Coral Café.
So support your favorite local landmarks while they’re still here and in business, and do it soon. You never know what will be tomorrow. What I wouldn’t give for a box of Pioneer Chicken!

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