There is probably no other business establishment other than a big studio office that launches more ideas, more pitched scripts, or napkin inked storyboards than inside an old Hollywood diner.
One of the most famous in the Land of Angels is the now-shuttered Cafe 101. The pandemic was just as devastating to small businesses as it was to human life and back in 2020, Cafe 101 succumbed to the aggressive virus and closed its doors permanently.
Fans and regulars were crushed by the news. But little did they know it would re-emerge, not with the menu as it once was, instead as a whole new dining experience and yet still perfectly recognizable.
At the end of November 2021, the historic Cafe 101 re-opened as Clark Street Diner. Its new owner, a popular local baker named Zack Hall has a few successful brick and mortars around Los Angeles. The question on everyone's mind is, can he retain the charm of a Hollywood dining staple yet update it to meet modern tastes? The answer is a wholehearted yes!
For nearly twenty years serving customers hot cups of joe and comfort foods Cafe 101 was host to some of Hollywood's great movies and television shows. Perhaps the most famous film and the one that drives tourists by the bus loads to visit the space at 6145 Franklin Avenue, is the 1996 sleeper hit "Swingers" starring Vince Vaughn in his breakout role.
Location scouts also pinpointed the diner as backdrops for shows such as "Entourage" and "Gilmore Girls." The diner's aesthetic remains as it was in the 1960s back when leather booths and wood-grained Formica tables were all the rage. That midcentury modern feel permeates the pass-through and the kitchen hub as well. Brown-tiled walls, large stonewalled masonry, and mirrored panels reflect back onto the dining room watching customers abuzz with the daily tea.
Hall has embraced Americana comfort foods and incorporated them into his daily menu. With all the rib-sticking favorites such as eggs any-style, hashed browns, omelets, pancakes and biscuits with gravy, the tradition of a pre-commute carbo-load is there for the picking. Hall is also using a farm-to-table model with many of his dishes made from local farm fare.
Still, there are the baked goods to consider. After all, that is Hall's forte. The menu is now loaded with all kinds of sweet rewards. The Los Angeles Times lists them as, "pies — double-crust apple, pecan, pumpkin, cherry, banana cream, chocolate cream — plus coffee cake, pecan sticky buns and new varieties of cookies."
Los Angeles is a fickle town, but it reveres its architecture and cultured history. Although Hall had never heard of "Swingers" until he walked into the space about a year ago, he noticed something special. Like an immersive period piece, he was enchanted by Cafe 101 and honored its place in Hollywood's vintage interior design.
Even though the name has changed to the Clark Street Diner, its mark---much like those beautiful pink stars on Hollywood Boulevard---is a reminder that the golden age is, in some ways, still upon us.
The iconic Clark Street Diner nee Cafe 101 is located at 6145 Franklin Ave. Hollywood, CA 90028.
Sunday through Tuesday, the hours are 7 am to 3 pm. Wednesday through Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm.
(Header photo taken from Google Street View)