Saturday, January 30, 2010

When Restaurants Kick the Bucket

Photo from

Do you have a bucket list? A roster of things that you want to accomplish before you kick the bucket?

If you're like me, food plays a big part on the ol' bucket list.

There's just one problem with including restaurants on your list of things to do before you die: the restaurant might kick the bucket before you do.

Just this week, two Los Angeles resaurant icons bit the dust. I've been to one, Goody's in San Gabriel, perhaps hundreds of times over the last 20 years. I always talked about but never made it to the second, Papadakis Taverna, the Greek restaurant in San Pedro.

For years, Goody's was the location for my weekend Breakfast Club with a good friend. The waitresses weren't exactly mean, but they had no patience for special requests. (Half caf, half decaf coffee? Go to Starbuck's, Sweetie.) Well, maybe they were a little mean, but that was part of the charm. My friend Carol and I assumed that we would be eating pancakes and eggs at Goody's forever, or at least until we were as old as the other shriveled little old ladies who frequented the place. But, alas, Goody's served their last cup of bitter coffee last week.

There's talk of a new location in El Monte, but it won't be the same without the familiar Googie architecture and crusty waitresses.

the Greek restaurant that was as well known for its raucous dancing and breaking plates as its food, will serve its last meal and shatter its last plate on Sunday, February 1. Friends and I always talked about dancing and eating at Papadakis, but we never made it.

Now I'm feeling a sense of urgency. What's on my food bucket list? This spring I plan to attend the annual Ramp Festival in Richwood, West Virginia, a daylong celebration of the pungent wild onion that is now a staple at high-end restaurants.

How about you? Remember, we won't live forever and neither will even the most iconic restaurants.

(For a list of 100 foods to try before you die, check out this just-published, SF-centric list from 7x7 SF. Scroll down for a look at Roadside Diner's pulled pork sandwich. I don't think I can live without this sandwich.)


Busymomsteph said...

My food bucket list is actually to take like an entire year and visit most of the Resturants featured on Diner's Drive-in's and Dives. It would be even better if I could just tour with them and hit all the hot spots. I spend hours drooling over the show!!

Susan C said...

Mom, That sounds really fun. I'd love to do that and sit at the counter and hear the stories of all the old timers who frequent the places.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

hey busymom3, i love that show too...can u imagine tasting all that food..omg.

Unknown said...

Oh, I hate it when great places to eat close! I remember being devestated when Chasen's closed lo these many years ago - that was top on my restaurant bucket list! It was hard when Scandia closed, too...I actually ate there once and loved it.

Maybe you can switch your breakfast club to either Pann's or Dinah's, over on my side of town. Both are still open and seemingly thriving. There's also Polly's....not as iconic, but similar in look to Pie 'n Burger.

I don't really have a list anymore, but I would like to have time to revisit my favorites like Dar Maghreb, Lawry's and The Buggy Whip. I'm also on a quest for the best Persian cuisine - so far Heidar Baba on Colorado, near PCC, is winning.

Cafe Observer said...

Was Goody's on Las Tunas? On a corner? Just east of SanGabriel Bl??

Perhaps you didn't go often enuf, SC! Now, look what happened!
It doesn't surprise me if it's the place I think. I only saw a few Sr citizens, walking slowly, attending that joint. It seemed each year I wood see even less.

Papadakis is a restaurant owned by the USC family - the Papadakis'.

Most restaurants should have a subtitle to their name: Open n Close, or, In n Out.

Cafe Observer said...

Btw, a belated Holiday greeting to you: Happy Chocolate Cake Day!

Karen said...

Yes, Goody's is on the north side of Las Tunas just east of San Gabriel. We took the kids there for breakfast many, many times. They always marveled at the little dishes of semi-frozen peaches that came to the table whether you ordered them or not.

My son always loved the patty melt. And they had darn good pies, too, including all the old favorites like mince and rhubarb. We will miss it!

Went to Papadakis' several times, mostly special occasions, and it was wonderful. At some point in the meal, the music would get really loud and the waiters would start dancing and smashing plates. They must have destroyed a LOT of crockery over the decades!

Handsome waiters always gave you a kiss on the way out - a nice bonus! :-)

JCK said...

Got a little distracted with Karen's talk of handsome waiters giving out kisses.

Restaurant bucket list. I like the idea...

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I drove by Goodys last week with Ramona and we both noticed it was closed. In the 60's people were lined up outside waiting for table. It was very big with the gray hair set of my grandmothers generation. We used to notice from our booth at Shakeys across the street. So sad.

Do you remember the mexican restaurant east of Goodys on the south side (ironically with a mural depicting a east coast sailing scene on the side?) A great bar with horse racing memorabilia under a heavy coating of Eurothane.... Anyhow, it was another old timer torn down a few years back. It actually belonged to Ramona's Ozarkian cousin and was very popular with the seniors and race horse crowd.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

It was called El Gordo's. I found this on the net...supposedly the owner of Wham-o (inventor of the Frisbee) walked in with a armful of his latest product "super balls" and let them loose. Wham-O was located in the area at one time.

lisa adams said...

Wish I could visit some of these places with you. I think we'd have great chats. I love the line that you would rather be talking about bucket lists on your food page instead of cancer page. I agree!

It's so sad when things change. In restaurants and in life.

Petrea Burchard said...

I love to eat out because I love it when someone else does the work. But I guess my bucket list is more about exotic places than restaurants. Of course there are restaurants in those places...

Desiree said...

I always wanted to go to The Russian Tea Room--my daughter will head off to college in NY, so I thought that would still be a possibility, until online reviews say it has devolved into tourist kitsch.

Nelle said...

Last Friday I finally made it to a buffet that I had been hearing about for years. I find that I cannot eat like I used to. I enjoy eating out less than I did but eating less, but trying new recipes at home.

California Girl said...

bucket list:
1) visit every old major league ballpark before it's torn down or renovated. ooops! too late for most.
2) visit old roadside diners and eat and write about them. ooops! The Sterns and that Guy on the food channel have done that.


Margaret said...

No bucket list. Seems like way too much pressure.

Susan C said...

Chrissy, I think we need to start a diner road trip.

Lori, Like you, I never made it to Chasen's. Always wanted to try their famous chilli.

I've been several times to Scandia and had memorable experiences each time.

I'm going to try that Persian rest.

CO, Yep, that's the one on Las Tunas. I think my friend and I liked it because we were the youngsters.

Karen, I'll have to live the Papdakis experience vicariously through you.

JCK, You and me both!

PA, You and your stories - love 'em! I never made it to El Gordo, but we frequented that same Shakey's (Cyn's favorite pizza).

Lisa, That would be fabulous to eat anywhere with you. How about NYC?

Petrea, I have lots of places I'd like to visit, but food and experiences are very intertwined for me.

Des, Yes, timing is everything. Some restaurants may still be open but no longer live up to their reputations.

Nelle, I'm with you on the buffets. When I was in college, it was a different matter. I should have been banned.

Cal Girl, Well, we can still eat at the diners. Join the road trip diner gang!

Margaret, So no restaurants that you're just really itching to eat at?

Cafe Pasadena said...

SC, notice MF didn't mention bakeries...or, macarons.

Susan C said...

CP, Margaret is becoming known for her sweet tooth. Or perhaps I should say "notorious," based on the subject of her award-winning short story, Just Desserts.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Glad you like my stories. I should never blog at night. I get very chatty (sometimes regretfully so).

Susan C said...

PA, When you get "chatty," it's fun to pour myself a drink, kick back and just enjoy the ride.

Trish said...

Goody's is GONE?!?!

omg, the world is coming to an end!

papadakis is someplace I haven't been for eons

tho I think if in n out ever kicks the bucket I'll just end it right there!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hop in a car and tour the roadside bistros in France. (Ok, hop on a plane, then hop in a car.)

Susan C said...

Trish, I know. My friend Carol and I were so bummed that we didn't get to eat there one last time.

If In 'n' Out ever bit the dust, there would be legions of folks committing hara kiri.

AH, I'm in! You drive the car, and I'll drink the wine.

pasadenapio said...

I grew up in San Diego. For us, it was a dark day 20 years ago when Lubach's closed. To this day everybody still mourns it. The building on Harbor Drive still stands, but with a non-restaurant use and ugly sign. It's wrong, I say!

Susan C said...

PIO, Lubach's is described in the LA Times article as serving "continental cuisine." You don't hear that term any more.

Anonymous said...

We would love to take a trip to every diner, drive in and dive that Guy has visited . . . EXCEPT that we are not sure we could handle the cholesterol and caloric intake!

Engr_Andy said...


It's fun to see this other blog of yours. Heard on the radio this week that Philippe's is undergoing a forced closure due to cockroaches. Deborah and I love that place, as did Deborah's late parents. Not exactly kicking the bucket, but not doing so well, either.