Clark Street Diner brings Hollywood 101 Coffee Shop to life
It’s been almost two years since plates of pancakes and grilled eggs hit tables at the former 101 Coffee Shop space in Hollywood, but later this month the 1960s-inspired restaurant will reignite its flat-top. , the jukebox will turn on again, and there will be new life in a historic food court frequented by patrons from the neighborhood and from nearly every sector of the entertainment industry, in addition to tourists.
New signage on the front reads “Clark Street Diner,” which could be a balm for fans who mourned the closure of 101: the site is now part of the popular group Clark Street Bread, founded by Zach Hall, which had always imagined he opened a full-service restaurant when he started his business – now one of LA’s most esteemed bakeries and bread wholesalers – almost 10 years ago. He took Clark Street from a homemade sourdough bread business to a modern bakery, then to a full coffee – first with a stand at the Grand Central Market, then expanding to two locations in Echo Park and another in Brentwood. Although he’s been a long-time fan of diners – from the laid-back and inexpensive to the grand Fountain Coffee Room tucked away in the Beverly Hills Hotel – he never dreamed of owning his own restaurant – at least not until 2021.
He had never heard of Hollywood’s legendary 101 Coffee Shop until that year either.
“I mean, bakers are ostriches,” Hall said. My head was buried in flour, trying to start a business.
But he says the first time he saw space he knew it was special. With its tan leather booths, swivel stools, stone walls, tiles, and Mid-Century Modern charm, the retro restaurant didn’t look out of place in Hollywood, where it existed on the ground floor of the hotel. ‘a hotel – currently the Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel – in various iterations since the 1930s. Its booths have been featured in “Swingers” and “Entourage”, have been the scene of numerous screenwriting sessions, and are later became a mainstay of the neighborhood night scene.
After nearly 20 years as 101 Coffee Shop, it closed a few weeks after the state’s first shutdown in 2020. Although the closure was originally scheduled to be temporary, at the end of the year the restaurant definitely and quietly closed. With indoor seating banned for months, the pandemic has proved relentless for diners and other high-atmosphere establishments (the Swingers on Beverly Boulevard, another beloved diner, is said to have suffered a similar fate during the pandemic. if it had not been saved by its general manager, Stéphanie Wilson). In the early days of 2021, news of the shutdown quickly spread across social media, garnering farewells, photos and memorabilia from Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins and Alison Martino of Vintage Los Angeles.
In a since-deleted GoFundMe page for staff, 101 partner and co-founder Warner Ebbink called the restaurant “our cheers, our Central Perk” and thanked guests for their years of support. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you, ”he wrote,“ and we hope that one day, somehow, we will see you again ”.
Turns out, customers will likely meet some of the staff at 101 Coffee Shop this month.
After learning about the vacant space and negotiating the terms in the spring, Hall signed the lease in May and announced the Clark Street Diner in July. Inspired by the space, the restaurant was designed as a simple, straightforward all-day spot serving Americana, organic and local produce, and a new pastry menu, separate from its bakery business. The project represents its first full-service restaurant, with new dishes, a new neighborhood and a small fleet of staff to seat and serve customers.
Hall says he’s interviewed a handful of former 101 employees and expects to hire most – if not all – to help work out the front of the house. “One of them worked here for 20 years, one of them worked here for 10 years, one of them worked here for five years,” Hall said. “They are loyal, they obviously did a good job and the neighborhood knows them.
He also brings in team members from Clark Street: Longtime employee Ross Furman will take on the role of managing director, while Juan Pablo Garcia, formerly of Clark Street Brentwood, will run the kitchen as head chef. He and Hall experimented with classic recipes using locally grown produce such as Weiser Family Farms potatoes; Ground pork and chops Peads & Barnetts; eggs from breeders in the Chino Valley; tortillas and flour from the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project; and Straus Family Creamery yogurt. Organic and local sourcing is already at the heart of Clark Street; naturally, said Hall, this will extend to the restaurant.
All-day breakfast can include any style eggs, pancakes, corned beef hash, do-it-yourself omelets, egg benedict, burritos, cookies and gravy, salmon platters smoked and fruit salads, while the sandwich section of the menu offers everything you need: a club, a tuna, turkey and Swiss salad, a BLT, a burger, a melting galette. The specialties, by far the biggest diversion of Hall’s café sandwich and toast menus, could include meatloaf, chicken fried steak, fish and chips, and T-bone steaks, all primarily tested in his home cooking, cooked for an audience of his wife and two children. (“We had a lot of breakfast for dinner,” he laughed. Kids like it, he says, as long as there’s maple syrup.)
In addition, Hall has developed a new range of pastry menus with pies – double-crusted apple, pecan, pumpkin, cherry, banana cream, chocolate cream – plus a coffee cake, sticky buns with pecans and new varieties of cookies. There will also be a kids’ menu, as well as shakes, sundaes and banana splits made with McConnell’s ice cream. Hall hopes to offer beer and wine and plans to expand the brand with more bakeries.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, says Hall. “They’re afraid of losing that, so I guess it’s good that we haven’t planned to make any big changes or anything,” Hall said. “They could have gotten a new [tenant] and made a new restaurant, done anything.
Does Hall feel a pressure filling the shoes of such a beloved diner? “I’m always going to be nervous about everything I do,” he said, “but you don’t run with that. You run with what you have to do.
6145 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, instagram.com/clarkstreetdiner