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Monday, November 29, 2021

San Pedro Icon Walker’s Cafe May Or May Not Be Closed For Good This Time

From its “world-famous” bassy burgers to a clientele that includes neighborhood regulars, longshore workers and leather-clad bikers, Walkers Café has been a famous slice of San Pedro since the 1940s.

But are its days over?

No one seems to know, but after being seemingly open during the coronavirus pandemic, the place has been closed and closed from the falls.

However, no one knows for sure whether the cafe is gone for good.

The property, 700 W. Paseo Del Mar, does not appear to be listed for sale. The owner on the record, Richard Brammett, could not be reached for comment.

Emma Rault of San Pedro, who has been pushing hard to save the cafe, is hoping the city of Los Angeles will support the effort.

“I’m advocating for it to remain a cafe, to continue to serve the community as it has done for nearly a hundred years,” she said. “What I am hoping is that the city will protect this as a heritage business.”

Rault has started an online petition — change.org/p/save-walker-s-cafe — to seek historic status for the business. About 700 people have signed as of Wednesday afternoon. The petition aims to get 1,000 signatures.

“We’re losing many parts of our history all over LA, and it’s easy to see how that could happen here,” Rault said.

In his introduction to the petition, Raoult wrote of his affection for the popular place.

“It didn’t take me long after visiting San Pedro for the first time to recognize how special Walker was,” she wrote. “It’s a real, simple, homely place where people from all walks of life—fishermen, hikers, bikers, e-cyclists, firefighters, even the soldiers stationed at Fort MacArthur Walkers are really a place where strangers can talk as friends and neighbors – a rare thing nowadays.”

With the real estate bringing in the high value – the appraised value is listed at $619,000 – some locals have expressed concern that developers may be hovering.

A cafe at that location makes sense, said Leslie Jones, co-owner of Omelette & Waffle Shop in San Pedro, who remembers buying ice cream cones and “besie burgers” when she grew up in the 1960s.

But if the walker does not open again, it will be difficult for the new operator.

As with any property upgrade, everything will be challenging, from obtaining a liquor license under today’s strict regulations, especially so close to a city park, to meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An additional issue recently appears to be a hoarding situation in the street that runs past the restaurant and has attracted complaints from the neighborhood.

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Walker—featured in several films over the years, including the Academy Award Best Picture nominee “Chinatown”—has a 763-square-foot building built in 1936 that sits on a 6,144-square-foot lot, according to tax records. It’s across the street from Point Fermin Park, one of the city’s prettiest and famous spots, overlooking the ocean cliffs and Catalina Island on the south side of town.

According to a South Bay History column that ran in the Daily Breeze in 2017, the building was once part of the turnaround station at the end of the Red Car Line on Pacific Avenue, although new research is being conducted by Rault on whether it was an official station. . , An old photograph shows a trolley traveling through Walker’s future location.

An original tavern called Cuddles occupied the site before Walker was born, offering a walk-up window to purchase a beer. Earlier it used to be a neighborhood grocery store.

When San Pedro waitress Bessie May Peterson, and her husband, sailor Ray Walker, moved to the location in 1946, they purchased it and expanded it into Walker’s Café and Grill, a venue for military families stationed at nearby Fort MacArthur. became a popular destination. ,

After Walker’s death in 1958, Bessie May replaced her sister, Christine Price, who moved from San Francisco to help, according to a South Bay History article.

Peterson, born in 1912, and her younger sister originally immigrated to California from Oklahoma with their parents in the 1920s. Peterson worked as a waitress from the age of 18.

Over the years, the spot became a popular haunt for motorcyclists who would ride around the Palos Verdes peninsula. Before long, bikes queued in front of the cafe most days, a sight intimidating some longtime patrons in the neighborhood.

Peterson told Daily Breeze columnist John Bogart in 1985, “Someone steps out of line, I look at them and they shut up.” I came.”

Some of those client changes made the cafe less attractive for a while, said June Burlingame Smith, a longtime neighborhood resident active in community planning.

But Walker, with its old-fashioned counters and linoleum floors, is one of those Pedro mainstays that are part of the city’s lore.

This isn’t the first time the cafe has closed.

In 1994, with Peterson’s health declining, the sisters decided to call it off. A “farewell” ceremony was held on August 7, 1994. But Bromet, a member of the Peterson family, took over the cafe and reopened it. Peterson died in 1996.

But if the place fails to reopen this time, it will be a piece of San Pedro lost forever.

“It’s going to be a sad day if a sign says, ‘For sale,'” Jones said.

“I’m not even basically a Pedro native, and I definitely intend to do whatever I can to champion the cause, because this place is special,” Rault said in defending the place. about his efforts.

“Walker has such a rich history and there is so much community love and support for it,” she said. “I certainly don’t think this should be the end of Walker’s story.”

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