2022 has been a rough year for Los Angeles preservationists, with the recent demolition of the Tower Records building and such famed spots as the Viper Room, the Standard West Hollywood and the Hollywood Palladium all facing uncertain futures. But there is currently reason to celebrate! As announced yesterday by Random Length News, San Pedro’s historic Walker’s Cafe and Grill has been purchased by a new buyer who “intends to change nothing.” Shuttered since October 2021, the landmark eatery and popular filming location (most famous for its appearance in the 1974 classic “Chinatown”) had been in continuous operation since the 1940s. Its sudden closure brought consternation and fear to its legions of local fans, especially as its fate hung in the balance. But now the Prospect Group, a Southern California-based real estate development company, has stepped in with plans to reopen the beloved site.
Situated directly across the street from the ragged coastal bluffs of Point Fermin Park (also a frequent film star) at 700 W. Paseo Del Mar, the one-story Spanish Colonial Revival building that now houses Walker’s was originally built in 1917. Though local lore has it that the site initially served as a turnaround station for the Pacific Electric trolley line, a Los Angeles Department of City Planning report debunks that myth. Instead, the write-up asserts that the structure first operated as a grocery store/soda shop. The building underwent a significant rebuild in 1935, at which time it was restructured into its present form and also, for whatever reason, was reduced in size to its current 763 square feet. After serving for a time as the Cuddle Cafe, it was acquired by Raymond Walker, a former Navy Chief Signalman, and his wife, Bessie Mae Peterson, and reimagined as Walker’s Cafe and Grill in 1946. A family affair, Raymond worked the kitchen and Bessie waited tables, with the latter’s mother, Lena Logan, whipping up handmade soups, cakes and pies on the premises each day.
Known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere and down-home offerings, it did not take long for the place to become a local staple. Though Raymond passed away unexpectedly in a car accident in 1953, Bessie continued to run the place until failing health forced her to retire in 1994. She passed away two years later and her son, Richard Brummett, and his wife, Audrey, subsequently took over operations of the eatery. Richard remained at the helm until last October, when health issues also forced him into retirement (at the tender age of 89!), at which point Walker’s doors were closed. They have remained so ever since.