Velvet Turtle, Los Angeles 1980s
The Velvet Turtle was a popular chain of fine dining restaurants founded in California in 1965 by Wally Botello.
Cleverly branded – the restaurant’s logo was a snappily-dressed turtle in a top hat and red bow tie – the chain grew to 20 locations Los Angeles, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Fresno and Menlo Park and others.
In the 1970s, Wally sold the chain and moved to Palm Desert where he opened the popular Wally’s Desert Turtle restaurant, now run by his family.
He also owned another chain of restaurants called The Wooden Shoe.
By 1986, Marriott was owner of The Velvet Turtle locations. Then the company sold the properties to a private equity group, a move that signaled the beginning of the end.
The trend for casual dining – as opposed to the semi-formal atmosphere of The Velvet Turtle – hastened the chain’s demise and the last one closed in the early 1990s.
The Velvet Turtle is still fondly remembered by its old customers and a Velvet Turtle sign in downtown LA – the building was demolished in 2014 and is now a vacant lot – is all that remains.
It’s at the corner of Hill Street and Ord Street in Chinatown and a reminder of that fabulous turtle logo.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.
All printed in USA.