Hollywood locals breathed a collective sigh of relief last week when news of the 101 Coffee Shop’s reopening hit Instagram. The beloved and oft-filmed café, most notable for its appearance in the 1996 indie hit “Swingers,” shut its doors in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic, along with countless other eateries across the globe. But while many of those have since re-opened, the 101’s doors remained locked, and at the start of 2021 owner Warner Ebbink released a statement saying, “The temporary closure of the 101 Coffee Shop has become permanent.” Not the New Year’s news its legions of regulars had been hoping for. So the recent announcement that Zack Hall would be re-branding the site as the Clark Street Diner was met with glee.
It’s not the first time a beloved café has been shuttered and reborn on the premises. The eatery, which sits just steps from the Hollywood Freeway at 6145 Franklin Ave., is located on the ground floor of the Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel, a mid-priced lodging that originally opened in 1927 as the Hollywood Franklin Hotel. Though reports vary, the restaurant space, which initially operated as a pharmacy, is said to have started slinging meals at some point in the 1930s. Everyone from James Dean to members of the Keystone Kops are reported to have eaten there.
By the ‘90s, the café, then known as the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop, had become something of a dive. Enter Susan Fine Moore and her husband, Michael, who took over the space in 1994 and completely reinvigorated it. As she explained to the New York Times, before acquiring the restaurant, the fare had been “inedible, beyond crummy, embarrassing” and “half the time the lights weren’t even on. There were dead fake plants in the window.” Susan and Michael poured $50,000 into the place, breathing new life into both the décor and the menu. Though a classically-trained French chef, Moore instead chose to offer customers American comfort food staples, including her famous cowboy chili and coffee cooler (an espresso milkshake).