Downtown LA’s Historic ‘Pantry’ Marks 90th Anniversary With Pancakes, Coffee
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For less than a dollar, Angelenos can get a little taste of history Wednesday at one of the oldest and most storied eateries in downtown Los Angeles.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports The Original Pantry is celebrating its 90th anniversary by offering customers a short stack of pancakes and a cup of coffee for 90 cents.
Since opening its doors in 1924, The Pantry has stayed open 24 hours a day and has served about 8,000 customers every week at its 19 tables and 19 stools, according to General Manager David Wall.
“Our standard order per day is 20 cases of eggs, and a case is 15 dozen,” Wall said. “We go through 20 cases of potatoes a day, we go through seven cases of cabbage a day.”
The Pantry has drawn a diverse clientele over the years, ranging from celebrities to working professionals and even some of the homeless population who call nearby Skid Row home, according to Wall.
“We have a little bit of everybody, which kind of makes the mix really interesting,” he said.
The original restaurant, which started with five employees in a building at 9th and Francisco Street about one block west of Figueroa, consisted of one room, a 15-stool counter, a grill and a hot plate.
But it wasn’t long before patrons were lining up for seats, and in 1950, The Pantry moved to its present location at 877 South Figueroa, all without missing a beat: on the day The Pantry officially moved, lunch was served at the old location and dinner at the new site, with no loss of time or customers.
Current owner and former Mayor Richard Riordan, who began eating at The Pantry in the late 1960s, said he had an experience there in 1981 that changed the course of the eatery. Riordan had acquired the property next door to build a high-rise and had just finished his usual eggs over easy breakfast when he had witnessed firsthand the eatery’s signature authenticity.
“After I ate, I had the newspaper, I was reading it in a relaxed way, and one of the waiters came over to me and said, ‘Hey buddy, if you want to read, the library’s at 5th and Hope,'” Riordan said.
From its Frisbee-sized pancakes and crunchy home fries to its daily offering of various steaks and chops, patrons like Claude Jemison — who began coming with his mom and dad 30 years ago — say there’s a reason The Pantry is still open.
“It’s the portions. There’s a lot of it, and it was good,” Jemison said.
The Original Pantry will offer its 90-cent special of two pancakes and a cup of coffee from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.