When it comes to restaurants, we all know the sad statistics. That 60% of new eateries fail in their first year of operation and 80% within the first five years is almost like an old adage by now. So an establishment that has survived for more than five decades, especially in the ever-changing landscape of Los Angeles, is certainly an anomaly. But such is the case with Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe, a landmark Hollywood restaurant that was originally founded in 1964 and was still beloved up until the pandemic forced its shuttering last March. It has yet to reopen, much to the lament of its legions of local fans.
Situated directly across the street from the Paramount Studios lot at 5536 Melrose Ave., the cafe was founded by Frank Casado, who named the site in honor of his wife, Lucy. Raised in Boyle Heights, Frank fought in the Navy during World War II and later became a successful salesman for the Seven-Up Bottling Company before opening the eatery, which originally consisted of a tiny single-room storefront lined on both sides by brown leather booths.
With Tex-Mex offerings inspired by family recipes that Lucy, an El Paso native, gleaned from her mother, the cafe proved an instant hit amongst locals and tourists alike, known as much for its delicious fare and warm atmosphere as for Frank and Lucy’s welcoming ways.
As El Adobe grew more popular, the couple expanded into the two storefronts situated on either side of the original restaurant space, eventually taking over the entire brick building that commands the southwest corner of Melrose Ave. and N. Plymouth Blvd.