There were two Nickodells at one time.  The less-famous one, which closed before the other, was at Argyle and Selma in Hollywood.  No one noticed when that one went away…but everyone in town lamented the closure of the one at 5511 Melrose Avenue, built into the side of a movie studio.  The studio was at one time RKO Studios…then it became Desilu…then it assumed its present identity as Paramount.  Whatever the studio was called, Nickodell was the place folks working on the lot escaped to for a mid-day cocktail, and many important deals were made at its tables.  When I Love Lucy was casting and they needed someone to play Fred Mertz, Desi Arnaz got a call from an actor named William Frawley and they arranged to get together and discuss the role over drinks…at Nickodell Melrose.

Also right down the street was a studio with a lot of history.  The building at 5515 Melrose started life as the Consolidated Film Studio and later became the West Coast home of NBC Radio.  It went through a dozen tenants after that before becoming the home of KHJ channel nine, a local TV station which now broadcasts (from elsewhere) as KCAL.  It was said that in the fifties and sixties, the KHJ News Crew practically lived at the bar at Nickodell and wrote their copy on its napkins.

I only ate there twice, maybe three times.  The food was pretty straightforward American — steaks, chops, chicken — and you got the feeling that for most diners there, the cuisine was of secondary importance to the libations.  But the meals were served efficiently by real, professional waiters (no aspiring actors allowed) and the whole place had a cramped, wonderful sense of Old Hollywood history.

Nickodell’s closed with some fanfare in November of 1993.  News crews showed up the last week, as did everyone who’d ever eaten there and wanted a last meal and a souvenir ash tray.  But then it suffered the ignominious fate of completely disappearing.  Paramount just moved some fences around and suddenly, not only was Nickodell not there but you couldn’t even see where the building had been.  When I drive by now, I think I know where it used to be…but I’m not sure.

91 Responses to Nickodell

  • Sue Schmier says:

    The Soup Bar was in the basement of Bullocks Department Store. My children loved to go there and were fascinated by the copper kettle. For S Murphey

  • Randy Reno says:

    I keep waiting for someone to write a blog about Elanor’s.

  • Christina says:

    Alan remembers the Original Barbeque and wonders about their sauce. Well, it was good but nothing compared to their coleslaw. It was located on the southwest corner at 8th and Vermont. It had amazing food. It was one of the few restaurants that my grandmother liked. The chickens were on the rotisserie and could be seen through th window. I remember that on the rare occasion my grandma decided not to make Sunday dinner for just the two of us she would give me a $5.00 bill and send me to pick up two bbq chicken dinners! I remember the ribs were amazing but that slaw. When I got older I’d go in for a quart of the slaw and a baked potato and happily have that for dinner. One day it was closed. No explanation. It just disappeared. What a loss. I have tried and tried to reproduce that amazing slaw which was a vinegar and oil type and I’ve come close but I still long for that slaw. Someone somewhere must know how it was made. Please, if you are related to the owners or the staff and know that recipe please share.

  • Peck Lakeet says:

    1960’s: We lived on N Van Ness, between Santa Monica & Melrose. I remember a restaurant that served piroshkis. What was it called?

  • Paul Willson says:

    I went to Nickodell frequently after I moved to Hollywood in the 1970s. I seemed to work a lot on Paramount shows, and being able to walk to that great, old place for lunch was the best perk. Meanwhile, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the name of the restaurant that was actually right by the Bronson Gate. Someone mentioned it earlier, and I was hoping the answer would soon follow. Help!

    Mark, are you there?

  • jeff Vilencia says:

    We loved Nickodell’s restaurant and back in the 1970’s it wasn’t unusual to
    see many of the Hollywood stars and local celebrities there, just to name
    a few that comes to mind, Sally Baker (a.k.a) Hobo Kelly, Lucille Ball
    and her second husband Gary Morton, Billy Barty, Anson Williams, these
    are just a few, but there were many more I just need to jog my 55 year old
    memory! I loved the stake sandwich and fries that was my favorite dish!
    (for which i gained too much weight) The staff was friendly and top notch!
    The waiter we used to have wore a suite and was an elegant gentleman.
    I took a few girlfriends there too when I was still in high school. This
    was a time right before Hollywood changed from an all “FILM” town
    to SONY video and now digital! (Yuck!) There were dozens of film
    production houses all up and down Melrose avenue – when they still
    cut film on an upright Moviola! Those were the days!

  • Terry says:

    My favorite restaurant (the one on Melrose) when I lived in Las Angeles. I spent many hours there . There Caesar Salad and favorite sandwitches of the stars were the best. I spent many hours recording in the studio next door in the 50’s also. I was devastated to see them close.

  • S Murphy says:

    I grew up just off Melrose when Molto Marios was our Rexall Drugs and Mom would give me a note to the Pharmacy and John stating to “Give Susan a carton of Tarytons and put it on my bill”…. Pink’s was 25cents and I rode my Schwinn to get 10+ at a time for the ‘pool’ people in our yard ~
    Went to school with Little Lucy and Desi and went to Desilu often and then when Sam Riddle had the dance show there my Uncle who worked for KHJ Radio ~ Andy West, would get us in to watch the ‘older’ kids dance….BTW Andy was at the Ambassador the night Bobby was killed and is in all video/pics with black rimmed glasses and black hair and is heard to say “Get the Gun?” (Maybe someone here knew him?)
    I remember places like : SMOKEY JOES a BBQ place with sawdust and plastic baskets at each table with raw veggies we fought over to eat! GREAT BBQ! Also downtown as a Italian place COSTA GRILL that had dynamite Turkey Fettuchini and also downtown the SOUP BAR in the basement of one Dept Store off the men’s dept with copper kettles with 2 or 3 soups that rotated and a round bar on stools you sat at and dessert was Apple Cobbler with Custard Sauce OMG!! AND Van de Kamps for enchiladas with olives even though they were in the frozen food section …..Miss them now!! FISHER’S HAMBURGERS which were in the OLD and the NEW Town and Country ~ The Original McD’s only better ….LINES were really long esp on weekends!! When I was 21 I could drink finally here but the days were not the same :(

  • James NYC USC says:

    Worked as a summer associate for an L.A. firm in 1986 and for the first time had some money. That summer I ate at Nickodel a few nights per week. I always got the Caesar Salad. Remember the dressing, made table side, was excellent. Heard for the first time the phrase “coddled egg”. And the croutons were large and made from the sour dough bread–an entire loaf–that was served with the Caesar along with lots of butter. And washed it down with the bottomless glass of unsweetened iced tea. I miss Nickodel!

  • William Hare says:

    I grew up there and have great memories of this landmark eaterie. It is the watering hole for my 1949 Hollywood detective for my Amazon Kindle and Create Space work SUNSET BOULEVARD MURDERS.

  • Cliff Lang says:

    Just nostalgically finished the Nicodell rememberances. I ate and drank there often in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when I lived up Canyon. It was a almost a neighborhood spot. I remember Deloris, Mary, Armando and Steve very well. Late dinners featuring chopped salad, sand dabs, filleted expertly at the table, the caesar salad preparation and steak san and the baked are still vivid. It was always a pleasure to be in the hands of the friendly professionals there. I feel my Hollywood dining creds are sound as Nicodell and Scandia were the two spots in town I kept a tab at. I miss Nicodell visits the most in 60 years of restaurant going.

  • Larry says:

    My “lunch room” for 3 years at the Melrose location in the 70’s. I can say I dined with Ron Howard, the Fonz and the “Happy Days” crowd, Phyllis Diller, Cathy Rigby, Efram Zibalist Jr., Michael Landon, Kenny Rogers are some that come to mind. Today, we have a painting of pheasants in a snow field, bought “off the wall” where the works of local artists were displayed. The manager actually climbed up on the bench seats in an occupied booth to remove it for us. Loved that place.

  • Terry Smith says:

    I only went to Nicodells on Melrose once. There was just something about the other one, on Selma just a block or so east of Vine that felt better. It was like the Frascati’s on Wilshire – my favorite. The one up near Santa Monica was nice, but it was very bright – nice for lunch sometimes; the one at Laurel Canyon and Sunset was nice too, but there was just something about the one on Wilshire. And then there was Scandia on the Sunset Strip. A moment of silence please. If anyone can remember other Old LA spots – refresh my memory. Thanks for the memories, T. Smith

  • Michael Eugene Chapman says:

    I spent much time in this area during the 1950’s & 60’s- my late father
    grew up in this area & was an aspiring actor during the late 40’s, my dad’s parents, my grandparents lived on on Bronson Ave- a stone’s throw away
    from Nicodell’s – I recall going into the restaurant several times always
    considering it a special treat & recall seeing Lucile Ball in the back seat
    of a Limo driving down Bronson Ave many a time while in my grandparents
    front yard-many indelible memories esp. during the 50’s & into early 1960’s-there is so much film history in this part of Hollywood & early television as well- all this being recalled as so neat, Nicodell’s was an Excellent Restaurant, as in the days of Vintage Hollywood..

  • Nick Odell says:

    My name really is Nick Odell, and I’ve often wondered if I could have mooched a free meal there.

  • Richard Lubic says:

    Ate all of the time while producing the daily show, Tempo with Stan Bohrman and Maria Cole. Had many interesting meals and drinks their with many famous people. It was a different time then as television was just beginning the change in news b ecause of newer types of equipment. I miss the old places in Hollywood.

  • Contreras says:

    Do you know the name of the Restaurant kitty corner to the Paramount Main Gate? My Father worked many shows at Paramount,We would go to the Playboy ,a Bar that was between Melrose and the gate .In those days the gate was off of Melrose ,not like it is now.

  • Manny says:

    Comment to: “jay says:

    July 1, 2014 at 7:13 am

    My grandmother took me to Nicodell Melrose several times for abalone, when it was still wild caught. Am going to get some farmed to see if I can recreate the taste, which was unique. Never had a drink there and neither did grandma :).
    As a teenager in Hollywood High School (1945/48) I worked the night shift (6 to 9) at Dave’s Texaco Gas Station just across Melrose Paramount old main gate. I was the kid that dived for the abalone’s just north of the Malibu pier. The cook gave us 50 cents for each white/pink Abalone, big money then as regular gasoline at Texaco was only 19 cents a gallon. It took many hours to get 6 tender white/pink Ab’s as most were green/black, too tough. If I recall the cook did not buy very many as very few people actually ate them. Us kids dived for them to make ash trays from the polished shells, in those days everyone appreciated an Ab. shell ash tray. About once a month before work I would go there, sit at the back Bar near the kitchen and order a planked hamburger steak, it was on a wooden plank with a row of mashed potatoes around the plank, it was covered with grilled mushrooms and onions, it came with a big wooden salad bowl with a basket of fresh Italian bread and tub of butter. I am pretty sure it cost less then $2?? In those days we all just called it the Melrose Grotto…For more information re Melrose Avenue in that time period go to:

  • Dee Wes says:

    Hello, I saw where there was one person who posted that they were a grand child of an owner of Nickodells. The thing I know is.. this, at some point in time, could have been the Tony family or perhaps someone else owned I do not know. But there was a Zahner family, now the reason I know this is I use to go to school with Del Zahner, and my best friend in high school Debbe, married Del Zahner right out of Highschool. Dels parents were very well off this we knew. Debbe had a child with Del. And tragically Del died. I do not remember how. Could have been drugs or a car accident I cant remember. Del’s son was named Nicholas.. After the grandfather? Nick was left to eventually inherit the business but it was sold instead. The last time I saw Debbe was in the late 70s. Del died in around 69 or 70. So owner’s would have been just prior to that in 60s I presume. Last I saw Debbe, Nick was maybe 8 yrs old. they moved to Utah. Now I can not connect all the dots here on who owned the restaurant when and who were the Zahner’s but I do know it was Nickodels for a reason. I am thinking Nick original owner called it Nickodels after his son Del. Perhaps he sold it after Del passed away. Anyway this is just something I came across and had to add history to this great faded landmark. ( The Nickodels I remember was on Hollywood Blvd). Could there have been 2 owners of 2 separate restaurants but orginally both were owned by someone in the Late Del’s family line. things to ponder love if anyone else knew would post. thanks.

  • Aileen Ligan says:

    I had many out of the way late night dates with my BF (now husband)there. So many great memories. I was so sad t see it close.

  • Glenn says:

    My folks had their office on Larchmont AND a tab at Nicodells….ate there for lunch 3-4 times a week for a decade. Late 70’s-the back door to Paramount guaranteed a star studded lunch crowd. Benny the waiter, best blue cheese dressing, clam chowder to die for, a simple, yet delicious burger, REAL DRINKS and fond memories of many meals here…

  • Lisa B says:

    I remember sitting in the little red booster seat eating the Clam Chowder. I didn’t like seafood back then but I loved that Chowder! I was so little that it was “Nickolallies” to me. Boy, L.A. was a great place to grow-up.

  • Judi WElch says:

    More old LA nostalgia spots:

    Star on the Roof ( BH Hilton)
    Coconut Grove
    Truman’s Westwood
    Goody Goody’s WLA
    Intrepid Fox
    Fox and Hounds
    Jack’s at the Beach
    Carousel Ice Cream Parlor ( Mickey Cohen’s)
    Schraftts BH
    Bullocks Westwood Tea Room
    Mario’s Westwood
    Pandora’s Box
    Will Wright’s
    La Scala
    Trader Vic’s
    Imperial Gardens Hollywood
    Herbie’s Hot Nuts
    La Barbera’s

    Wish they were still here……

  • John Grant says:

    I used to go there with my parents quite often. My grandmother worked at Paramount for Hal Wallis. She would join us after work for dinner. We would always see someone there. but I recall seeing George Putman ( a local TV news personality– the basis for Ted Baxter..) there A LOT. My last memories there were in the 80’s before a taping of CHEERS when I saw Kelsey Grammar running lines before taping.
    I will always remember the brass coffee urns and coastal wave paintings on the walls around the booths.

  • jay says:

    My grandmother took me to Nicodell Melrose several times for abalone, when it was still wild caught. Am going to get some farmed to see if I can recreate the taste, which was unique. Never had a drink there and neither did grandma :)

  • Tim Finn says:

    I am the oldest grandchild of Nick and Antoinette Slavich. When my Dad finished Law School and opened a small private practice on Argyle just up one building up from Selma, my Mom worked as his secretary. I was dropped off in the morning at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Grandpa went to work early and Grandma did not drive. Before lunch Grandma, my Aunt Annie and I would take a taxi to the Nickodell. Grandma had to be there to be there before the lunch rush. I stayed in the kitchen. There was a booth back there for the employees for their meals. When I was old enough to walk, I had the run of the place. I remember going behind the bar and having Charlie the bartender give me cherries and Tony the head cheif giving me slices of turkey and most of all Grandpa giving me scoops of ice cream at the freezer. Grandpa’s health forced him to sell the business to his accountant, Leonard, and to his head chief, Tony, in 1957. My family grew up on Lillian Way and Cahuenga just down the street from the Melrose Nickodell that continued its operation. Growing up My folks would occasionally take us to dinner at Nickodell’s. As Grandma and Grandpa still owned the building, the famikly had a tab there. I grew very close to my Grandpa as he was from the old country and did not have any sons. So he shared with me many many stories of his youth on his Island of Brac, his immigration to the US, his trip from New York to San Jose, his early years in LA when the western limits of the city was Alvarado Blvd, to the stories of Nick’s Melrose Grotto and the two Nickodell Resturants. When I turned 18, he and Grandma gave me permission to be able to have my own “tab” at the resturant. I went to college about 7 miles from their home in Ladera Heights. I had dinner with Grandma, Grandpa and Annie almost every week. Grandpa could still tell stories. In their home was a one of a kind painting of “old Hollywood”. This painting has been lost, but it had a bir’s eye view of Hollywood and Vine area with characters of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. I used to spend hours looking at that painting. Grandpa was sharp as a tack till his passing in June of 1979. His was the best.

  • Jesse Wayne says:

    Nickodell’s was one of my favorite meeting hangouts. Aside from the delicious higher-end menu items, my old standby was their chicken salad sandwich. So many wonderful memories, including Oblath’s, across from Paramount Studio’s main gate. How sad… they’re all gone.

  • michele says:

    It was the late fifties or early sixties when I would go there with my friends family. It was a special place for us kids, ordering Shirley Temples and baked potatoes. I remember getting halibut.
    The main reason I looked for this site, was to see if I could find anything of their recipe for SCRABBLE. I dont think it was a menu item, I believe it was prepared special.
    Basically it was chopped spinach, a bit of ground meat and scrambled eggs. Maybe in the sixties it was part of the high protein diet fad. Loved it! I make it often, but it would be nice to see if there was an actual recipe for it. ( I like to Finish it with butter and vinegar.)
    I miss that family that was kind to include me in what became a special memory for me. Love you Maureen.

  • Tom says:

    I have eaten there on a few occasions. I worked on Dear John, a TV series, from 1988 to 1992. That was at Paramount. The cast and some execs would eat there for lunch meetings to plan a new season sometimes. I also ate there with Cliffie Stone when we were at a meeting at the Musician’s Union. The table hopping and chatting with friends there was like down home in a black and white movie from the 1940s.

  • Christian Anderson says:

    In the mid-1950s, we lived around the corner from Nickodell at Argyle and Selma. My mother was a radio personality at station KMPC and would occasionally take me to dinner there after work. I was only about 7 years old when June Allison and Dick Powell came to our table to chat with us one day. I remember their “club sandwich” the my favorite menu item.

  • Helyn says:

    During the 1980s I worked in sales for a huge company. My favorite memory of Nickodells was the Cob Salad. It was my introduction to what has become my favorite “salad meal”. I have never been able to replace the taste of that salad and the memories of eating at that restaurant.

  • Vicki Vogt Lindoerfer says:

    I worked at KHJ during Boss Radio era….1965-1972. Many, many, many nights were spent at Nickodell’s after work. I spent my 21st birthday there with The Real Don Steele and others, and the wait staff there were shocked, because I’d been drinking there for at least a year prior. (Bank in the day…not so strict!). I remember a favorite waitress…Delores…Armondo the maitre d…and Steve, who ultimately owned the place I think. I loved the place.

  • Gail says:

    I worked there in the 80’s It was very exciting Some of my favorites Bono, The Traveling Wilburys, Anne Ramsey (Throw Momma from The Train) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) making Ceasar salad at table the chopped salad The wonderful swordfish. Great exciting job for a young woman.

  • Douglas says:

    During the heyday of 93/KHJ Boss top 30 radio (’65 to about ’80) Nick’s was the virtual disc jockey lounge for the likes of Robert W. Morgan, Real Don Steele, Bill Wade and many more. KHJ was just steps away and many a jock would hang out right up to air time.

  • Lisa Lee says:

    Does anyone remember is there was a Nickodell’s location in Santa Monica?

  • Pam says:

    I loved Nickodell! I was heartbroken when they announced it was closing. I was lucky enough to go there one last time. My favorite dinner there was the New York steak with baked potato and a salad. One of the last places to have French dressing. Anyone remember how the dressing was made?

    Nickodell, gone but not forgotten.

  • Reed Berry says:

    I dined with a friend at Nicodell on Melrose on its last day of operation 20 years ago. The late Huell Howser (who passed away earlier this year) was on hand with his cameraman to interview diners for his television show. The food was good and it was quite an experience seeing this chapter in L.A. history come to a close.

  • Don Mac Brown says:

    Voila! Blocked. Could not recall the name of one of favorite restaurants sharing nostalgia with friend. Many thanks for your site. Nicodells,of course.

  • Ty Anderson says:

    I worked at Paramount in 1968 to 1971 when I went to Fox. I work the swing shift and ate dinner there almost every night. Michael Cole of the Mod Squad also ate and drank there nightly. Sometimes I would walk back to his dressing room with him. I have seen the Bonanza cast, Edmond G Robinson, The Mod Squad cast, Lucille Ball and so many others there. I was a 19 year old kid, it was awesome.

  • Murray ARONSON says:

    Nickodel was a fine restaurant. I’d describe it as a much less expensive Musso and Frank. The caesar salad was made tableside and it was a big production. Delicious. The special roast chicken and roast duck dinners were scrumptious. I miss Nickodell.

  • Patrice says:

    It was a very hot day, a friend and I got lost in the cementary . When we found our way out , we saw Nickodell , went in for a nice glass of something cold . Not looking our best , all hot and tired . Looked across the red booths to see walking in the back door by the kitchen . Who did we see , to our surprise was Michael Cole , Clarence Williams , Peggy Lipton .

  • dianne de la rocha says:

    I will never forget the dark lighting and red booth seats. As a child my grandfather would take us here, and I would always order the spaghetti with meatballs and a Shirley Temple, and delightfully listen to all the Hollywood gossip of the day…

  • Paulette Shaffer says:

    I’m looking for Nickodel’s clam chowder recipe – any ideas?

  • John Cassel says:

    I had many great meals at Nickodell. My favorite was always a Ceasar Salad made tableside by Mary. She taught me how to make a Ceasar but it was always better to have her make it.
    Dinner at Nickodell then down the street to the Formosa for martinis by Lindy.
    They closed Nickodell and Lindy died. Two big reasons why I’m not going back to Hollywood.

  • Christopher Roth says:

    I WANT MY NICK’S BACK!!! I had friends working at Paramount in the mid ’80’s I used to visit for lunch and dinner and drinks…what a great place, with genuine “old Hollywood” atmosphere, great drinks, and some of the greatest old-fashioned American dishes done better than any other place I’ve ever tried in Hollywood, including some things that you cant even get any place else….I Want my turkey Croquets back….(yes, just like Howard Johnson’s used to have, only fresh, not frozen…), best meatloaf I’ve ever had, every meal included real appetizers including marineded herring in sour cream, I’ve never seen anywhere else ever…WHO HAS THE RECIPIE BOOK??? My dream before I die, resurrect a NEW NICK’s, if I can find the magic book….(And dont get me started about MAISON GERARD’S)

  • Alan Maretsky says:

    I worked next door at KHJ-TV. In fact I started my TV career there. I used to go fetch dinner for the on-air technical director when we worked together. I recall it was the first time I had ever eaten a Monte Cristo sandwich. On Saturdays when the Real Don Steele show taped, afterwords we’d all go over and finish out the day in the bar.

  • T. G. Smith says:

    Just discovered this site. I used to got to the Nicodell’s, one block east of Vine, between Hollywood and Sunset; I think that was Argyle. Very nice memories. But Scandia was always my favorite. Had a favorite table there. Frascati’s on Wilshire very good too. And who could forget The Luau. Really enjoy your site. Thanks for the memories. T. Smith

  • CS says:

    I was a waitress there in 1975, my first job after college. So many memories of the place, including an elderly waiter named “Benny” (had to be in his early 80s back in ’75) who worked there in the 1940s – 1950s, who talked about the days when “there was a star at every table.”

  • Jesse Silver says:

    Nickodell was a great place to unwind after a tough day on the lot. The food was good and the drinks were serious. Totally agree with the sense of Old Hollywood. I was working at Paramount at the time that Nickodell went out of business. Many of us felt sadness at losing such a great hangout.

  • Allan Rosenberg says:

    Do you remember the “Original Barbeque” at 8th and Vermont for many years? It closed in the early 1970’s. My family and I went there for many many years, we loved their Barbeque sauce. I think it was owned by the Nickodell family. Where would I look for the recipe for the barbeque sauce?

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