Beyond sharing a 100-year Anniversary, and the claim of inventing the fabled French Dip sandwich, the tale of two eateries reflect Downtown’s changes.
On the heels of Philippe’s birthday celebration, Coles is closer to opening (by all account in mid to late November). One questions remains: Will Coles closure for a high end renovation end the claim of being the oldest continually operating restaurant in Los Angeles. Many feel new owner Cedd Moses will find a way for that ethos to survive, just as Cole’s has for 100 years. (Or 99 years if you are taking off 2008).
As for Philippe’s, it stayed strong despite displaced by the 101 Freeway and relocating to Alameda and Ord in 1951. The high profile location near Olvera Street and Chinatown became even better 11 years later when Dodger Stadium was completed. Now, many a fan will take in a French Dip before a game.
At the Pacific Electric Building, Coles, formerly Coles P.E. Buffet, was left behind in a decaying part city and for a few decades the most active legit business around the historic joint was the Greyhound Bus Terminal, making 6th and Los Angeles an unofficial gateway to Skid Row.
In fact, many considered Coles a mere skid row skid row dive with food. It was the seediness, and the makeshift Victorian décor from a 70s era puesdo renonvation that kept Cole’s with a certain character and gruff charm that only a pioneer lunch diner, alcoholic, or film location scout would love.
Yet, as more people moved to Downtown, Cole’s became a favorite watering hole and the French Dip rivalry didn’t hurt keeping its name in front of French Dip foodies.
By joining Cedd Moses well stocked portfolio of Broadway Bar and Golden Gopher, finally Coles’ neighborhood will enhance this eatery, hopefully in the same manner Philippe’s has thrived on the north side of Downtown.