Levy's Cafe, Los Angeles 1906 12x12" Archival Print $30.00
12x12" Archival print. Unframed.
Our oldest Los Angeles menu is dated 1906 and is from the city’s first fine-dining restaurant Levy’s Café, located at West 3rd Street.
The front cover of the menu shows an elegant lady in a corseted red dress, complete with hat, gloves and be-ribboned shoes, standing above a semi deserted beach.
Born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Ireland, proprietor Al Levy moved to San Francisco in 1876 and worked in many of the city’s restaurants including the famous Techau Tavern, learning how to cater to a high society crowd. He moved to the mushrooming young city of Los Angeles in 1886, which had no quality restaurants at the time. He operated a small cart selling oyster cocktails at 10c each and soon earned enough money to take over a plumber’s shop at 3rd and Main for his first restaurant, which seated 14.
In 1897 he rented all three adjoining buildings on the street and, a few years later, he tore them down to build the three-storey Levy’s Café. by 1906, it had become the centre of fashionable LA nightlife. The second floor featured three dining rooms decorated in English, French and German styles,
Dishes included imported Russian caviar, pickled pigs’ feet and Spanish hamburger steak. Fish and seafood dishes were cooked by a female chef called Mrs Solomon, who had the distinction of being named on the interior menu, which featured a delicate Art Nouveau design.
The café was an early Hollywood hangout with the stars of silent movies flocking there. Charlie Chaplin married an Al Levy checkout girl called Mildred Harris.
Levy suffered several career drawbacks. He built a luxury restaurant in Watts, then a small farming town, that flopped. Prohibition dealt a big blow. Levy worked as a caterer on luxury liners plying the coast of California for a while but was soon back on dry land.
He opened a new downtown restaurant called Al Levy’s Grill on Spring Street in the 1930s and became one of LA’s best-known restaurateurs. The pioneering LA restaurateur died in 1941.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu or cover.