The Management

The Main Course

This will only be of interest to certain friends of mine. Hey, Certain Friends of Mine! Remember that great little restaurant I took you to over on Pico Boulevard a block west of Beverly Glen? The little hole-in-the-wall place called The Main Course? You were skeptical at first but one bite of their food — especially if you took my advice and ordered the turkey meatloaf — prompted you to thank me for introducing you to a great, albeit tiny place to eat.

They’ve closed and they posted this message on their webpage…

Dear Customers! The Main Course restaurant is out of business due to changing circumstances surrounding our lease. We want to thank you for your continued support over the last 37 years! We will miss you!

We’ll miss you too, Main Course. I assume “changing circumstances surrounding our lease” means a landlord raising the rent sky-high, which seems to be happening more and more these days. It won’t be long before every little, independent merchant will be displaced by a big chain. I wouldn’t mind that as much if Applebee’s or Outback could make a turkey meatloaf a tenth as good as the one served at the Main Course.

Their statement makes no mention of looking for a new building in which to reopen. In the past, every time a favorite restaurant of mine has shuttered, they’ve said they will find a place to again flourish…or sometimes, they say they already have a location and are just dickering to nail down the fine points of the contract. I can’t recall one that ever actually reappeared, at least in anywhere near its previous form. Sad…but that’s just how it is.

Woody’s Smorgasburger V

Here’s a new thread for those of you discussing Woody’s.  The other ones are closed for further posting but you can still read what’s there.

Your Memories 01

This is the place to discuss restaurants that the proprietor of this blog never went to and therefore cannot write about.  Comments about restaurants that are open and operating are discouraged.

Skooby’s Hot Dogs


Skooby’s was a small hot dog stand located under a movie theater marquee on Hollywood Boulevard, directly across from Musso-Frank’s Grill, a restaurant that will never be on this website. Skooby’s served great dogs with a great snap and was kind of a godsend to those of us who like neither the chow nor the lines at Pink’s. Skooby’s was what Pink’s should have been, given its reputation.

The hot dogs were great, especially if you left off enough toppings to be able to taste the meat…though asked once if I preferred Skooby’s over my other fave (Carney’s, still open), I answered that I preferred the dogs at Carney’s and the french fries and lemonade at Skooby’s. I also liked the parking better at either Carney’s, which may have been the reason Skooby’s is no more. I rarely go to anything in that area that doesn’t have a parking lot, even for one of the best hot dogs in town.

Frankie & Johnnie’s


My second-favorite place to get pizza in Los Angeles abruptly closed the other day, reportedly for good. It was Frankie and Johnnie’s, a tiny business about the size of a phone booth located on Little Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, just west of Rodeo Drive. Frankie and Johnnie’s should not be confused with the Johnnie’s New York Pizza chain, though it probably was, often.

Frankie and Johnnie’s served very fine pies with very thin crusts and if you bought slices as opposed to a whole pie, they’d reheat them in their big oven and come out much crisper. It was very difficult to walk past the place and not stop in for a slice or two. They also served an amazingly wide range of decent pasta dishes — amazing because the whole kitchen there seemed to be about the size of a Honda Civic. I’m going to miss that place.

You’re probably wondering what my favorite place is to get pizza in Los Angeles. Once upon a time, it was Damiano’s, featured elsewhere on this site. Now, it’s Vito’s Pizza on La Cienega, a few blocks south of Santa Monica. It’s not fancy but the pizza is made expertly and many friends who obsess on “New York Pizza” and somehow believe one cannot find rotten pizza in Manhattan, swear that Vito’s is as close as you can get. It is very good and I really hope I never have to add it to this blog.

Woody’s Smorgasburger IV

This forum has gotten too big so I’m closing it to further postings. Feel free to respond to anything here but do it over on Woody’s Smorgasburger V.

Jan’s Restaurant


Jan’s Restaurant was located on Beverly Boulevard just east of La Cienega. It billed itself as “L.A.’s Best Coffee Shop.” One wonders how the folks at Astro’s over on Fletcher Drive — owned by the same family and featuring almost the exact same cuisine — felt about that. But Jan’s was pretty good. In the seventies, I lived a block from the place and was in there at least twice a week. Breakfasts were as good as any other option I had. For lunch and dinner, it wasn’t the greatest but it was several notches above Denny’s or Norm’s or any other big chain you could name.

I especially liked the Spaghetti Burger, which was not as many assumed a hamburger with spaghetti on it. It was a hamburger with a dish of spaghetti on the side.

Jan’s was reasonably priced and had good service. It closed in mid-March after more than fifty years in business. We’ve lost too many of that kind of eatery.


Koo Koo Roo


To the surprise of no one who has followed the chain’s decline in recent years, the last Koo Koo Roo — the one in Santa Monica — is gone. The Luby’s company, which acquired Koo Koo Roo and Fuddrucker’s in 2010, has turned the last location into a Fuddrucker’s…an ironic finish since the operating premise of Koo Koo Roo, once upon a time, was to offer an alternative the traditional burger and fries fare.

Koo Koo Roo started in Los Angeles in 1988 when two brothers, Ray and Mike Badalian opened their first location and before long, their second. The one I went to was in a little strip mall at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Orlando Avenue, a few blocks east of La Cienega. Before the mall was built, the land housed a Roy Rogers Roast Beef Sandwich stand and then a Golden Bird Fried Chicken shop. Another Koo Koo Roo was located in Koreatown.

The night of the Academy Awards in 1990, Kenneth Berg, a semi-retired real estate broker, passed by and noticed the long line of customers at the Beverly/Orlando location. He decided to stop in and get a “to go” order to eat while watching the Oscars and he was impressed with what he later described as “…the best chicken I ever had in my life.” He soon met the Badalian brothers, invested in their business and later bought them out. He not only liked the chicken but the whole concept of healthy “fast food.”

The story of Koo Koo Roo became one of ups and downs. New stores opened. Other stores closed. Berg’s staff added an expanded menu that included freshly-carved turkey and he renamed the chain Koo Koo Roo California Kitchens. Later, he purchased a controlling interest in the Arrosto Coffee chain and opened coffee bars within his Koo Koo Roos.

It seemed like every few months, Koo Koo Roo was opening more stores and closing others while experimenting with new menu items. The folks who loved Koo Koo Roo (I was one) really loved it but there never seemed to be enough of them. Eventually, Berg’s company sold out to the Fuddrucker’s people and though they added their burgers to most outlets, they didn’t reverse the company’s fortunes…and finally that last one closed.

I miss them. I liked their signature chicken breast. I liked their turkey. I thought their macaroni and cheese was wonderful. But clearly, not everyone liked Koo Koo Roo as much as I did.

Woody’s Gallery

Much of this weblog has been joyously devoted to one of my favorite now-defunct places to eat…Woody’s Smorgasburger.  Many former employees have chimed in to create a weblogged history of the chain, and the most vocal and interesting has been Phil Ankofski.  Recently, Phil sent me some photos of a diorama he has lovingly built of the Woody’s I most often frequented, the one in Culver City.  I’ll be posting Phil’s photos here along with some other pics he’s contributed, and I’m sure he’ll be along to offer commentary.  Please join in.  Here’s the first pic he sent of his remarkable reconstruction…


Woody’s Smorgasburger III

We’ve had so many messages posted here about the late, luscious Woody’s Smorgasburger that we have to break them up.  This is the third thread of comments.  You can read our article about Woody’s and the first batch of comments here.  You can read the second batch of comments here.  Please continue the discussion on this thread.

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