The “Punky Brewster” Grocery StoreSep 19th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
As I mentioned in my August 18th post about the buildings used in the opening credits of fave ‘80s television show Punky Brewster (which you can read here), one spot that remained a mystery was the grocery store where Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) offered to help patrons carry their bags in exchange for money. I wondered in the post if the market might be located in Chicago, but fellow stalker Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, sent me an email that same day letting me know that he had tracked the site down – just around the corner from Shatto Place, where the majority of the Punky Brewster opening was filmed. Sadly, he also informed me the grocery store was no longer standing. I decided the location was still blog-worthy, though, and ran right out to stalk it two weekends ago while the Grim Cheaper and I were in L.A.
The grocery store actually only appeared in the opening credits of Punky Brewster’s pilot episode, which was titled “Punky Finds a Home: Part I.” All subsequent episodes featured a shortened version of the pilot’s credits.
In one portion of the grocery store segment, several buildings are visible in the background. It was those buildings that led Owen to the market’s location. In his email, which included the mocked-up screen capture pictured below, he wrote, “In the attached image from the opening credits, the camera is looking east. The building circled in red is 630 Shatto Place (the building is labeled “Retail Clerks Union” on Google Maps). The white building circled in blue (the one with many windows) is 3075 Wilshire Blvd., at S. Westmoreland Ave.”
He also included the east-facing, present-day, bird’s-eye view of those same buildings pictured below.
And a 1980 aerial view from the Historic Aerials website, in which he circled the Punky Brewster market and its parking lot in green. Owen said, “To the south of the grocery store you can see the slanted parking spaces along a wall, just like in the opening credits.” He provided a corresponding present-day aerial view of the area, as well.
He also dug up the 1968 image of the store pictured below on the USC Archives. As you can see, he literally did all of my work for me on this one, so thank you, Owen!
Because he did not know the market’s exact address, Owen suggested I check back-dated Los Angeles phone listings, saying, “Assuming the store was on the SE corner of W. 6th St. and S. Vermont Ave., I’m guessing you should look at addresses ~3190 W. 6th St. and 606 S. Vermont Ave.” So, for my first attempt I searched the 1987 phone directory for 606 South Vermont and, lo and behold, there was a listing for a Kal’s Supermarket at that address, as you can see below! Owen hit the nail right on the head!
Today, 606 South Vermont Avenue is the site of the Wilshire/Vermont Station for the Los Angeles Metro, which, according to Gazette.net, boasts the longest escalators this side of the Mississippi.
The $136-million mixed-use station, which was designed by the architecture firm Arquitectonica, opened in 2007.
The “transit village” consists of an upscale 449-unit apartment building and a whopping 36,000 square feet of retail space. Such restaurants as Chipotle, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Subway, as well as several boutiques, are located on the premises.
The two-panel mural that flanks the station’s southwest entrance was hand-painted by transmedia artist April Greiman and is titled “Hand Holding a Bowl of Rice.” Greiman initially took the image with a video camera and then converted it into an oil painting.
Because of the way the Wilshire/Vermont Station is situated, I could not get a perfect photograph of the two buildings that Owen spotted in the Punky Brewster opening credits. As you can see below, though, the picture that I was able to snap does match pretty closely what appeared onscreen in 1984.
You can watch the opening credits from Punky Brewster’s pilot episode by clicking below.
For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.
Big THANK YOU to Owen, from the When Write Is Wrong blog, for finding this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Kal’s Supermarket, the grocery store from the Punky Brewster opening credits, was formerly located at 606 South Vermont Avenue in Koreatown. That site is now the Wilshire/Vermont Metro station. The buildings that were featured in the Punky Brewster opening credits are located right around the corner on the 600 block of Shatto Place. The brick building that Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes) first walked by was the Pierre Crest Apartments at 673 Shatto Place; the alleyway where Henry stepped over the sleeping homeless man is just north of 688 Shatto Place; the building that Punky skipped by was the Modena Apartments at 661 Shatto Place; and the site of Henry’s photography studio, which has since been torn down, can be found at 651 Shatto Place.