Cole's is the oldest continuously operating restaurant and saloon in Los Angeles. It first opened in 1908 and served the commuters of the Pacific Electric Company. Cole's became the city of Los Angeles' historical landmark number 104 in 1974.|
The Pacific Electric Building where Cole's is housed has been designated by the State of California as a State Point of Historical Interest. It was designed for Henry Huntington and was constructed between 1902 and 1905. At the time it was the tallest business building west of the Mississippi. The Pacific Electric Building was the main terminal for the Pacific Electric Railway, which eventually became the largest interurban electric railway system in the world. It served as the hub of a network of lines running from Owensmouth in the west to Redlands in the east, and from the top of Mt. Lowe in the north to Newport Beach in the south. The last "Big Red Car" rolled out of the 6th and Main Terminal in 1961.
Harry Cole established the restaurant in 1908. It has been recognized for originating French Dip Sandwiches. Customers still form long lines at lunch time to get a taste.
In addition to the restaurant business Harry Cole opened the first check cashing service. Customers would form a line one block long to cash checks at the tiny cage in the back corner of Cole's. The company operating statement in 1936 shows 176,000 checks deposited for a value of $7,150,000.
In every corner of Cole's an aspect of the city's history is evident. The massive mahogany bar, the Tiffany shades, the old oak tables and the saw dust on the floor bring back touches of charm of turn of the century Los Angeles. Some of the tables are actually made from the sides of the old wooden red cars.
On display are photographs of the building during it's construction and a map of the rail system. One could also see photographs of beauty pageants dating back to the post World War I period.
The customers keep the tradition alive; some have been "regulars" for over forty years. Jimmy the bartender is a wonderful source of information. He had worked at Cole's for over sixty years until his recent retirement. He often frequents the restaurant.
Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet|
6th & Main
Los Angeles, Calif. 14
Open Monday through Saturday from 9am