Why Family Restaurants Thrived in Studio City

Despite proliferation of chains, lots of choices still exist in Studio City.

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Dear Jack,

Where were the first delis, coffee shops and family restaurants located in Studio City in the 1930s and '40s?


—Cam Bennetts


Dear Cam,

A few weeks ago we had a with some present residents of Studio City, who had a very limited historical knowledge about the best restaurants of years past , such as the , and

Now, we will go way back to eateries for kids, family restaurants and ethnic food establishments. I hope some folks who have an appreciation of things past, will join our discussion, by posting a comment at the end of my piece.

My specialist is a friend of mine, who is also an alumnus of (now ). He has lived in Studio City since 1943, and has a home off of Coldwater Canyon Boulevard. He is a North Hollywood family law attorney by the name of . Every few years, he and his wife host a reunion party at their home for the Carpenter Avenue School class of 1957. More than 100 school chums attend this affair.

Hugh and his family came to Studio City in 1943. Hugh’s father was a jeweler and Russian immigrant who loved to eat. Hugh has an older sister. Every Sunday Dad would take the family to a new restaurant in Studio City, and sometimes way out to Sherman Oaks. As a young boy, Hugh began to become a food specialist for lots of varied dishes.

Let’s start with the predecessor to . Yes, there was a deli at that site before It was called Farber’s Deli. It was run by Mr. Farber and his wife. It only had a counter area, with no tables and chairs. It must have not done too well, since Art made him an offer he could not refuse. In the middle 1950s, Harber’s was history, and Art became a work of Art’s for the next 50 plus years (53 to be exact!)

We seem to forget, that Studio City was a family town. Following WWII, many families moved to Studio City and purchased their first home. Thus many restaurants came to Studio City to service these families.

We had Harry’s Diner, which was across from the on Ventura Boulevard. It basically served hamburgers and hot dogs. Another family restaurant was Scoops, on Ventura just west of the Studio City Theater.

The best name for a restaurant in Studio City, was the House of Murphy. Hugh Lipton remembers it as a regular American restaurant, located where the is now situated at Radford and Ventura Boulevard. It died when the center was built adjacent to

Lipton remembers the Chinese restaurants to be of a special variety. Nicely kept up and known for good drinks, i.e. strong—not watered down. The Far East Terrace was located on Lankershim Boulevard, north of the present 134 Freeway.

Joe Woo was the owner, who was a part-time actor, and magician. The best known Chinese restaurant was outside of Studio City, in Panorama City. It was called Phil Ahn’s Moongate restaurant. Phil Ahn was a well known actor in Hollywood.

The chain coffee shops came to Studio City with on Ventura Boulevard adjacent to the Pat Galati Union station, and car wash. Tiny Naylors was a chain coffee shop. Many high school kids hung out there at night after going out with the boys or the girls. It was good reasonably priced food. It was taken down when the new center was built.

Across the street was the It had a 50-person food counter, and served a range of food. Kids would order cherry cokes and fries, and Gary Lipton remembers the first “plate of spaghetti with a topping of chili.” That is the only time he saw that that kind of dish of food. I loved to order their apple cobbler. It came with vanilla ice cream, and a creamy sauce to die for.

The most ethnic restaurant in Studio City was the Moskva Cliffs restaurant in the Coldwater Corners area of Ventura Boulevard. There were not many Russians in the area, and we looked at them as the “Communists” in that post WWII era. Gary went to the restaurant, but not on a regular basis. The building still stands today.

Many businesses patronized the kids of Studio City. We had a Kiddyland on Ventura Boulevard, pony rides, miniature  golf on Laurel Canyon, where is now located. The Hot Dog Stand was doing business at Coldwater and Ventura Blvd, with its unique dog design.

These eateries were successful because of all the families in the area. Besides the public schools, , and were in the Studio City area. There were many types of restaurants to choose from. 

Hugh Lipton, his sister, and Mom and Dad went out on average three nights a week. Hugh’s Mom liked the idea of not cooking, his Dad just liked food, and Hugh and his sister always thought it was a thrill to go out in the family car to a new restaurant.

We now have more chain restaurants in Studio City. The chain restaurants do a large business. The new restaurant, always seems to have a waiting line, and new restaurants always seem to be coming to Studio City, but some only last a year, before competition forces them out of business. The family restaurant is not what it was, and Studio City is not just a family area.

There are many young single men and woman, who live, work, or patronize Studio City. It is a community always growing and changing with the times.

Mary McGrath February 07, 2011 at 02:19 PM
I remember the counter at Thrifty's very well. We used to sit there, order cokes and french fries, and pop a few coins into the jukeboxes on the tables. What fun. There was a guy there named "Lemon" who used to serve 5-cent ice cream cones near the entrance to the store.
Henry Eshelman February 07, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Well, we're just getting ready to open, but we hope the Federal gastropub will BECOME a family restaurant! Thanks for the support Mike, I love the Patch and your contributions to it. Keep up the good work.
Dick Carter February 07, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Henry - Federal's owners previously owned the Knitting Factory at the Hollywood Galaxy in Hollywood, which was a music venue, so their headset might not be with a Family restaurant. Think booze and profits!
teresa mcgrath February 07, 2011 at 03:58 PM
thrifty's and tiny naylors were the hot spots, ripe for hanging out drinking vanilla cokes, and eating fast food. yes, mary those nickel mini jukeboxes were at every booth, and at the counter seats. they played top 40, and complimented the fine thrifty food. at thrifys, you could also buy an ash tray for a dollar or $.50 for a quick xmas gift for aunt kay, and uncle harold. tiny naylors was an attractive place for the adolescents, and the food was good, as far as fries went. both places stamped a huge memory in our hearts during our formative years!
Karen Young February 08, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Jack, Your history of Studio City restaurants is really interesting...thanks!! I do beg to differ on a few points. 1. Studio City IS a family area. The schools, both public and private, are a testament to that. Families are clamoring to move to the area for Carpenter Ave School, as well as Colfax Elementary. Walter Reed has increased its attendance from local families. Just check out all those walking from Colfax Meadows dropping their kids at school. Studio City Rec Center (aka Beeman Park) is always crowded. All the teams fill up every season. The Studio City Farmers Market is full of families on Sunday mornings. Check out the kids area with the animals, the train, etc. Go to various neighborhoods during 4th of July and you'll see organized parades. When Girl Scout cookie season comes around, I can't pass Art's, Trader Joes or Vons without seeing some girl we know and parents from Studio City selling cookies. 2. As far as the family restaurant, that concept is changing. There is not one restaurant in Studio City that you can't bring kids too. It's a matter of how kids behave in restaurants. I was just at Raphael Restaurant talking to Alon Raphael and the new chef, Adam Horton. They are in their late 20s, have been best friends since Carpenter and have grown up going to "good" restaurants. They consider Raphael to be a family restaurant. Exposure is positive. 3. I am not sure what restaurants have closed within a year. There is some pretty good staying power here.
Karen Young February 08, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Dick, Just FYI...The Knitting Factory has been host to many children's and family events during the daytime hours over the years. I've attended school music programs that have had events there there. Please check out this Patch article on The Federal owner and Knitting Factory CEO, Morgan Margolis, he states that he "welcomes school functions." He is a father with three school kids. http://studiocity.patch.com/articles/one-mans-dream-becomes-federal-case
Dick Carter February 08, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Karen - while longevity is better in Studio City than many other areas, it is definitely not immune to restaurant closures. Anyone want to remember, or forget: Panda Express, Rukasu, Tommy Ray's, Dragon X, Friedel, The Bird Cage, Yuta or Vineyard Terrace (same location as Egg Plant is now), and of course the soon to be closing Wine Bistro. And many other places are awaiting their final days as I type.
Karen Young February 08, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Dick, Yes, of course there are very unfortunate closures, but on the whole, Studio City does have fairly good staying power and the growth is greater than other parts of the valley, especially in terms of restaurateurs with credentials. Sherman Oaks has their share as well. Many of the restaurants you mentioned were there more than a year. Some locations, like Eggplant and the others on the curve going east on Ventura are problematic because of parking and location. My point it that Studio City is a family area and there are thriving restaurants that are welcoming to families...many.
Miss Salty February 08, 2011 at 08:21 PM
I have to say that while it is sometimes fun to wax nostalgic, why is the tone of this column so "gloom and doom" ? This seems to be a frequent occurence. There are so many positive things to living in this great area- good schools as Karen Young pointed out, and many wonderful restaurants and shops. I'm all for nostalgia, but not coupled with negativity!
HighLowVintage February 08, 2011 at 08:30 PM
This article comes across as VERY BITTER....mad that it isn't 1962. If you want that, watch reruns of Hazel. Newsflash....new century, new places to experience...... and watch how your writing Mr. McGrath.....it has a tone of being a curmudgeon. I'm sure it's your attempt to look bad in a fun way but it doesn't come across like that at all. Posts like this just reinforces the wrong reputation of the Valley....really wrong. Look forward is my advise. Last I checked, it's 2011.
Jack McGrath February 08, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Karen- Dick Carter is the most up to date person regarding real estate we have in Studio City. He spent over 30 years as the best known commercial real estate broker, specializing in retail establishments, in Los Angeles. Some of the biggest names in restaurants, wanting to come to the SF Valley, have contacted him for his special expertise. My case rests with Dick Carter.
Karen Young February 09, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Jack, My issue has nothing to do with real estate— or really restaurants persay, it's the fact that you wrote that Studio City is not a family area—which completely untrue.
Jack McGrath February 09, 2011 at 04:55 AM
Karen: You now are showing your ignorance of national trends, and facts in Studio City. Couples are not having as many children as in the past. Couples are getting married much later, and thus having children later. Many homes in Studio City are purchased by single men or women, or gay or lesbian couples who will not have children or adopt them. I never said Studio City was not a family area- I said there were more single people now than in past years. I suggest you contact Joe Goodman, a fellow columnist with the Studio City Patch, who is a real estate broker in Studio City. He can explain to you the demographic trends which impact a community, and the marketing of a restaurant. Those trends are here in Studio City. Everyone knows that fact but you.
Karen Young February 09, 2011 at 07:27 AM
Jack, I know the landscape is changing and that is exciting. It's an eclectic community attracting people and businesses. It's changing...and it's positive. The history you always write about is interesting. That is always my point. Here's the quote YOU wrote in the second to the last paragraph of your article above : "The family restaurant is not what it was, and Studio City is not just a family area."
Ellen Vukovich February 09, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Perhaps what really needs some clarification is the term "family." Seems like that is changing with the times too. All for the better too! Far more inclusive. And, not just bound by law, blood or both! Am also thinking a bit of fur too. But, mostly, lots of love.
Karen Young February 09, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Ellen...perfectly said!:)
CJG February 10, 2011 at 09:40 PM
First off, in a discussion of family restaurants in SC nobody bothered to mention DU-PARS?! C’mon, folks, Du-Pars represents the best (and the worst) of family restaurants and has been a Studio City landmark since 1948. And speaking of 1948, I find I have another serious problem with the backward-looking Mr. McGrath… I think the idea of a History column for Studio City Patch is a great idea but when you spike it with your patented bitter tonic (things just aren't as good as they were when Kay Kyser ruled the airwaves) is when you lose most of us. I can just hear you saying, "Oh, pish-posh" or whatever the expression was in 1948 but here's the tell: the person who wrote in asked for a history of the first delis, diners and family restaurants in SC and you reworded their request into "Why Family Restaurants (Once) Thrived in Studio City (And Don’t Anymore)." It’s sort of like looking at the world through Eeyore’s eyes. And it doesn’t do squat for drumming up business for the new establishments in SC, let alone presenting the area as a vibrant, compelling neighborhood. Knock it off. Please?
E.M. Fredric February 11, 2011 at 06:13 PM
"The family restaurant is not what it was, and Studio City is not just a family area." has made for misguided playground fodder as opposed to reading what was written. Don't know you, Jack but didn't find anything bitter or off about your piece. Reminds me of the story game. Whisper a short story into the person's ear next to you in a circle and let it pass on. The tale can go from: The dog was hungry! to... The rabid dogs viciously tore up Mrs. White's cat! Thanks for the history lessons.
Jack McGrath February 12, 2011 at 07:41 AM
Mr. Berry Drive: Or should I call you Mr. Wimp? Why not use your real family name instead of your phony Berry Drive? No guts, no glory. I am not paid to be a shill for new restaurants in Studio City. I have mentioned Du Pars more than once. It has been here since 1948, so it must be doing something very right. Understanding history helps us understand today and maybe tomorrow. There are lots of SC residents who appreciate my column and my historical comments. Very few people who have contacted me knew there was a deli where Art's Deli is now located. The same for House of Murphy. When you comment next week on my column, please tell us who you are? I can hardly wait to know.
Skraeling September 07, 2011 at 04:20 AM
My part of Studio City is most certainly NOT a family area I would choose for my family. It was...now it resembles more an urban area, but without the infrastructure like adequate parking, clean and updated grocery stores that are not overcrowded and dirty or simply overpriced (Gelson's). You might call it curmudgeonlike but the writer is correct. Studio City is simply not the place it was once. Other areas seem to have been able to handle growth smartly. When Joel Wachs left office, Studio City was ripe for developers and it has continued. I feel sad when I see the empty stores along Ventura and Laurel Cyn, and the proliferation of Thai massage places, and burger joints, and the uncontrolled speeding and reckless driving on Moorpark and Ventura makes it dangerous for kids. ...if this is what you call family area...your family ideas are not mine...by the way, Carpenter Ave school is not a sign of anything superior other than parental involvement.
Jack McGrath September 07, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Are we still talking about restaurants in Studio City? This issue goes back to my article in February. Here we go again with my namesake, "Jack", who is stuck in the Joel Wach's time warp. I am moving from the Studio City area (Valley Village) at the end of the month. My wife and I are fufilling our dream to live at the beach. We have bought a new townhome in Port Hueneme, 52 miles north of Studio City. Not to run away from so called "dirty Studio City", but to be at the beautuful Pacific Ocean. But back to "Jack", the man without a family name. First Carpenter Ave Charter School is one of the best because of leadership. Leadership from the parents, Principal Joe Martinez, and the teachers. Parents want the best for their kids, and they get it at Carpenter. Does the complainer "Jack" know that the Studio City Improvement Association pays a full time person, who cleans Ventura Blvd. from Whitsett Ave. east to Carpenter every day? All the property owners pay for this as part of their yearly improvement assessment. Regarding restaurants, they come and go. Art's deli has been in Studio City forr 54 years, DuPar's over 60 years. Restaurants react to market forces. Why does Studio City have more than 13 sushi restaurants- because the public loves Sushi. If "Jack" thinks Studio City is such a bad place, pick up your suitcase and move. Homes still sell for a premium south of the blvd. and retail rents are sky high.
Skraeling September 07, 2011 at 06:30 PM
I suspect I have lived in Studio City far longer than you, and, yes, except for other obligations, I would leave Studio City, as it is not the place it once was. Glad to hear about the person cleaning Ventura Blvd...from all appearances, it could use a few others but I notice the growing numbers of vacancies and wonder how long an improvement assessment will be maintained. As for Carpenter School, I have given over 25,000 dollars over a period of 15 years..and have bought entire tables for their fund raising...don't lecture me about community involvement! My family name is none of your business, and i wonder why you are being such a putz since you began this thread. Any one who has lived in Studio City for any length of time, if they are honest, would see, WITHOUT A DOUBT, that this area, immediately North of Ventura and one block south, has declined in many ways as a strictly residential area. Developers of large apt and condo complexes have had a field day since Wendy Gruel and now her successor came upon the scene. Since this is your column, you should stick to deciding what is a family restaurant and what isn't...I didn't come here to insult you, why are you trying to insult someone you don't know? I don't see you doing much to actually improve the area, in fact, you are leaving....chill out..
Jack McGrath September 07, 2011 at 07:22 PM
From now on- I only respond to people who have a family name. This is not a column for Cher, Madonna, Dion, Elvis or Jack. Your deserve no response.
Skraeling September 07, 2011 at 07:43 PM
But, you just did. Grow up.
Lemora Martin July 03, 2012 at 06:39 AM
You didn't mention Dupar's, opened in 1949, and still going! I first dined there in a high chair, and most recently with my 94 year old dad. It's the only place in the Valley where you can get Welsh Rarebit. In the early '50's, there were slightly seedy, ersatz "log cabins" for rent in the area just southwest of the Dupar's parking lot, where the mini-mall, including Trader Joe's, now stands. I don't remember a House Of Murphy on that site in, say, 1953, just the cabins. The Tahitian, a Tiki Restaurant, was just east of Dupar's on Ventura. I'm also surprised you don't mention The Wild Goose on Ventura. That building still stands. On the southeast corner of Ventura and Laurel Canyon was Herbert's drive-in, complete with car hops. Mickey Rooney mentions going there with Judy Garland (in the late forties/early fifties) after work. Currie's ice cream parlor was directly across the street from the Studio City Theatre. The Moskva Cliff restaurant was one of Marlon Brando's favorites. Recently, I was saddened to see the decline of the once-beautiful neighborhood known as Eucalyptus Grove, bordered by Moorpark , Laurel Canyon, the L.A. River and Radford. The houses look run down and the eucalyptus trees are gone. Kiddieland was not where Von's is. A miniature golf course was. It was torn down in the late fifties when Food Giant was the brand new market that first occupied the current Von's building. Kiddieland was on Ventura, about where Draper's and Damon's is now.
Betsy Cutter November 27, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I grew up on Cantura St which runs parallel to Ventura. There was a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place called Gallo's Pizza that had the best meatball subs I ever tasted, then or now. Steve Gallo saved enough money to open his own little Italian place in the late 60s and the food was still pretty good. I remember my dad giving us money and sending us out the back gate, across the alley and onto Ventura to get meatball subs. We ate at Moskva Cliff once as I remember, and of course DuPar's and Thrifty (oh, those fries!). Times change. When I was a child in the 60s, we could walk pretty much anywhere we wanted and not worry about our safety. Today I'm not so sure. I am also a proud alum of Carpenter (class of '65, with your sisters) and Walter Reed (class of '68). Great article.


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