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The Original Pantry Cafe

Mar 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Movie Locations


Well, it is shaping up to be restaurant week at because for the third day in a row now here I am with yet another eatery to blog about – this time Downtown Los Angeles’ historic Original Pantry Café which first opened almost nine decades ago in 1924.  While I had actually known about the landmark restaurant for many years due to the fact that it has long been one of the Grim Cheaper’s boss’ favorite breakfast joints, it wasn’t until fellow stalker Lavonna recently informed me that my girl, Miss Marilyn Monroe, had once dined there that I realized the place was also a stalking location.  Just a few of the other luminaries who have patronized the legendary restaurant over the years include Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis, Jr., former President Bill Clinton, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  So a couple of weeks ago, while out doing some stalking in Downtown Los Angeles, the GC and I decided to hit the place up for lunch.

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The Original Pantry Café first opened for business in 1924 in a storefront located one block west of where it stands today.  The tiny eatery consisted of one counter with seating for fifteen, a hot plate, a grill, and a sink.  The place became extremely popular from the get-go thanks to its hearty servings and reasonable prices and hungry patrons formed lines that wound around the block out in front of the eatery on an almost daily basis.  The Pantry flourished even during the Depression years and, in 1934, expanded its sitting area by adding a dining room.  In 1950, the State of California took over the space where the Pantry was located in order to build a freeway onramp and the restaurant was forced to move to its current location at the corner of 9th and Figueroa Streets, where it has remained to this day. 


On the day of the move, breakfast was served at the Pantry’s original location in the morning and then dinner was subsequently served at the new locale at night, so the restaurant, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, actually has the distinction of being able to say that it has never closed and has never been without a customer since its first day of business back in 1924.  And to prove it, as you can see in the above photograph, the restaurant’s front doors are sans locks.  In 1980, the Original Pantry Café was faced with demolition once again, but Richard Riordan, the future mayor of the City of Los Angeles, stepped in and purchased the property and some neighboring storefronts for $3.5 million.  Thankfully, he left the exterior of the property, as well as the restaurant’s menu, exactly as they had been since the new location first opened in 1950.  The interior has, sadly, been remodeled quite a bit in recent years, though.  On October 5, 1982, the restaurant was declared Los Angeles’ Historic-Cultural Monument Number 255.  Today the pantry, which can seat 84 patrons, still has customers lining up around the block on a daily basis, with some guests waiting up to two hours before being served. 


When we showed up to stalk the place, though, there was no line and we were seated immediately – which should have been a clue.  I am sad to say that our meal was not very good, which was highly disappointing as the place serves up mostly comfort food – my favorite .  But from what I have since learned from the GC’s boss, the Original Pantry Café is definitely a breakfast place, so it looks like we just picked the wrong time to stalk it.  Apparently the Pantry’s breakfasts are out of this world, which is why the place usually has large lines during the morning hours.  And while our lunch left quite a bit to be desired, I have to say that the Pantry was definitely a cool place to hang out.

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The Original Pantry Café is also a filming location.  In the 2000 movie The Million Dollar Hotel, the Pantry was where Detective Skinner (aka Mel Gibson) got into a fist fight with Tom Tom (aka Jeremy Davies).  The movie was filmed before the recent remodel, though, so the restaurant is largely unrecognizable from it.  

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In 2007’s Knocked Up, the Pantry was where Ben Stone (aka Seth Rogan) told his father, who was played by actor Harold Ramis, that he had gotten a girl pregnant.


Big THANK YOU to fellow stalker Lavonna for telling me about this location!  Smile

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Original Pantry Café is located at 877 South Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles.  You can visit the restaurant’s official website here.  The Pantry is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.



Leave a comment »

  1. robert Puig says:

    Who was the original owner?


  2. Claudia says:

    Breakfast is actually their best meal! Hands down! That’s why people line up 🙂

  3. Ashley says:

    I’ve been there once before years ago and also didn’t enjoy the food. There were pretty much no vegetarian options from what I recall. Surprised I didn’t recognize it in Knocked Up!

    • Lindsay says:

      You’re right – there are very few vegetarian options. I had the fried chicken (which is one of my favorite foods) and it was just awful. The Grim Cheaper wouldn’t even eat it. Even the mashed potatoes were bad. All in all a terrible meal. 🙁

  4. Lavonna says:

    I didn’t know Knocked Up was filmed there..bonus! Maybe we’ll try the breakfast. Beth actually found out about the place from someone who lives in LA and we wanted to go last visit but never made it…next trip! NOVEMBER 🙂

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