Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 7.13.25 PMI was going to write about the new Commes des Garçon scent, Black, but Scentbar had only a beensy spray sample so they didn’t have enough to even decant. I did try it, and it’s a nice leather. But not enough time with it to give an honest run. I was walking to my car and passed by the old Spanish Kitchen.  Soooo..

Story Time!

Don Ray tells the fascinating story of the Spanish Kitchen in LA.

The Spanish Kitchen was still around when I moved to Los Angeles. It was a bit of a local legend. Not for the food, because there wasn’t any. The Spanish Kitchen had closed in 1961. It was eerily untouched: it looked as if the owners had just locked the doors one day and been abducted by aliens. The tables still had chairs stacked and menus on them- as well as years of dust.

The owners weren’t abducted by aliens of course. The couple that owned the building ran the restaurant since it opened in thirties. The husband was the cook and his wife ran the place. The patrons came as much for the homey atmosphere as for the food. But at some point the husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and at some point had to stop working. He went into a rest home where he later died. His wife tried to keep the business open, but her heart wasn’t in it. One day she put a sign that she was closing for vacation, and she never opened again.

As long as she was alive, it never again opened, but it was never touched. Her husband loved the place as much as he did his days and nights with his wife and while she knew she couldn’t run the place by herself she couldn’t bear to see it gone. In 1979 the LA Times wrote an article about it which gave it brief fame and I assume there wasn’t a week gone buy where real estate people tried to contact her to sell.

But she wouldn’t.

It was still untouched when the wife died in the late 90’s. A developer bought it, planning to restore it and make is a trendy restaurant. But the locals in the neighborhood didn’t want that- they already had a booze-slinging party restaurant practically across the street. Eventually Privé Salon moved in and created a spa on the top floor and a salon below. They even repurposed the original sign, jeeping the “Spa” part of “Spanish Kitchen”.

So the next time you’re in LA (Like if you’re attending the LA Scentsation event) and on Beverly near ScentBar, you can see a little bit of an LA love story in the sign on the old Spanish Kitchen.

Picture: Google Earth

  • Melanie Wallwork says:

    In addition to an obsessive love of perfume, I also love old buildings and the stories behind them. I find it fascinating to learn of the people’s lives – the joys and the tragedies. For most people, their lives are only remembered for a generation or two, but a lovingly repurposed building can last much longer and generate new stories.

  • Emma says:

    I agree that this is a beautiful and touching story. There is something powerful and haunting about a place staying there untouched, like a fixed point in time…i will have to visit when next in the city..thanks Tom!

  • Tara says:

    I hope to read your review of Black some time soon… Really interested in this one. At the very least, will get to smell it at Scentsation on the 11 th!

  • poodle says:

    That’s a great story but kinda sad in a way.

  • Aparatchick says:

    Wonderful story. How great that the new owners managed to incorporate part of the old sign!

  • Michelle says:

    What a touching story, thank you for sharing!

  • Milena says:

    I saw the Spa less than a month ago when I was is LA with my husband and my youngest daughter, and now I know its story. Beverly Blvd. is really nice place for walk. We truly enjoyed the Liege waffles.

  • Musette says:

    Speaking of signs – there is another ‘Arabic-sounding name’ sign – this one in Santa Monica…just north of SMBlvd, a block in from Ocean. It’s above an apartment complex. For years I would see it lit at night and wanted to check it out but got busy during the daytime…and forgot. Do you know that sign?

  • Musette says:

    Tom, that is SO cool! LA has so many of those ‘lost’ treasures. I love finding those. Chicago had a lot of them but they’re mostly gone. For the longest time there was a sign (Alhambra or Ali Baba) atop this building on Chicago Avenue, 2 doors west of Michigan Ave – I wish I’d taken a photo of it but it was so much a part of my daily landscape that I never dreamed it would be gone….I’m looking forward to seeing the Spa(nish) Kitchen!

    And you!