Throwback Thursday | Kaldi’s: The City’s First Bank and So Much More

South Pasadena’s first bank is a corner café today and a favorite filming location

PHOTO: South Pasadena Public Library | News | South Pasadena’s first bank (1904)

The South Pasadena building located on the corner of Center Street and Diamond Avenue was originally built as the city’s first bank in 1904. On opening day, the bank Vice President Edwin Cawston deposited $4,000 in receipts from his world famous ostrich farm (Cawston Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena).

PHOTO: Rick Thomas | News | Kaldi Coffee & Tea is situated adjacent to Library Park
PHOTO: Rick Thomas | News | Friends meet outside the entrance of Kaldi Coffee & Tea
PHOTO: Rick Thomas | News | Kaldi Coffee & Tea is a frequent filming location

Over 110 years later, the business that resides at the bank now serves coffee drinks, tea, pastries, and delicious sandwiches (my favorite is tuna on wheat with capers) at Kaldi Coffee & Tea. Behind the main counter, you can still see the old bank vault.

Kaldi’s guests are treated to beautiful arched-window views of the surrounding small-town neighborhood and a majestic Moreton Bay fig in the adjacent Library Park.

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PHOTO: Farah Sosa | News | Throwback Thursday’s Rick Thomas at his favorite window seat (Kaldi Coffee & Tea)
PHOTO: Farah Sosa | News | Author Rick Thomas writing at the corner café (Kaldi Coffee & Tea)

Note: A couple of buildings down from Kaldi on Center Street (on the corner of Meridian Ave.) is the Stargate Studios – special effects artists for the popular AMC television series The Walking Dead.

Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas


Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.