Los Angeles

The LA You May Not Know: Restaurant Chains

If you are familiar with the phrase "my eyes were bigger than my stomach", you'll understand how we feel about this subject. We never dreamed there were so many well-known restaurant chains that got their start right here in Southern California. Our video story only covers a handful so we'll add a few more here.

Denny's started out as a doughnut shop. First opened in Lakewood California in 1953 it was known as Danny's Donuts. Eventually it transitioned from doughnuts to a full menu restaurant. The name was changed to Denny's to avoid confusion (and possible litigation) with another Los Angeles chain restaurant, Danny's Coffee Shops.

Like Carl's Jr., Panda Express was the offspring of a full menu established restaurant, in this case The Panda Inn in Pasadena. Peggy and Andrew Cherng opened a fast food version of the cuisine in the Glendale Galleria mall, appropriately naming it Panda Express.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf first opened in Brentwood in 1968. Owner Herbert Hyman got the idea of selling high quality coffee after honeymooning in Sweden. He came up with many of the innovations found in the gourmet coffee industry. When Starbucks was planning on expanding to Los Angeles, they attempted to buy The Coffee Bean chain but Herb turned them down. But Starbucks success and popularity have also made The Coffee Bean more profitable as well.

Hot Dog on a Stick got its start near the Santa Monica Pier in 1946, a logical place when you think about having something you can eat while walking around. And that strategy hasn't changed as many of its more than 80 locations are found in shopping malls.

Other chains that started locally include, Norms, Tommy's, Baskin Robbins, Yogurtland, Pieolgy Pizza, Menchie's, Blaze Pizza, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Wienerschnitzel, Taco Bell, Pinkberry, Big Boy, Wetzel's Pretzels, Fosters Freeze, Robeks, Pick Up Stix, and Winchell's Donuts.

Don't see any of your favorite places to eat? Check out our video story with our host Maricela Perez and see if we've included them there.


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Produced by Patrick Campbell

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