Once upon a time, our current China Town in downtown Los Angeles was known as Little Italy and French Town. The original China Town was demolished in the 1930's to make way for Union Station. In what is now New China Town, the French Hospital was located at the corner of College and Hill. There were many Italian establishments in the area too, including Little Joe's Italian Restaurant on the corner of College and Broadway. I vaguely remember the French Hospital and definitely remember Little Joe's. Little Joe's was originally called Little Joe's Restaurant and Grocery. It was on the corner of 5th and Hewitt Streets (built in 1895) in what is now considered The Arts District. Little Joe's moved to North Broadway in 1927. The restaurant closed in 1998 and was used as a film and television location until it was recently demolished.
I never had a meal at Little Joe's, but after looking at the menu from 1975, I wish I had! My friend, Mr. Pete gifted me with "The Menu Guide of Los Angeles" (1975). The book is a treasure-trove of restaurant menus from the era.
|Little Joe's at 5th and Hewitt, L.A.|
1975 was just about the time Los Angeles restaurants were making headlines. In 1974 Patrick Terrail opened Ma Maison in a little bungalow on Melrose Avenue. In 1975 chef Wolfgang Puck came to Los Angeles and started working at Ma Maison. This, I believe, was the beginning of fine cuisine in Los Angeles. Family restaurants serving home-style, hearty fare didn't have a chance after 1975. Surprisingly, Little Joe's was such a mainstay in the downtown neighborhood, it lasted until 1998! It didn't hurt that L.A.'s favorite Italian, Dodgers Manager, Tommy Lasorda used to frequent the place before and after Dodger games at nearby Chavez Ravine.
|Thank you, Mr. Pete!|
Get out there this weekend and have dinner at one of L.A.'s classic, old-time restaurants. They're not long for this world!!
|Little Joe's on North Broadway, 2012|
Labels: Architecture, Food, Los Angeles, Memories, Vintage Photos