Throwback Thursday – South Pasadena’s Favorite Restaurant Locale

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | | Old Virginia Restaurant, South Pasadena (1942)

Today, on a vacant lot at 119 Pasadena Avenue (next to the Ostrich Farm Lofts), the Old Virginia restaurant was the home of a favorite local eatery.

The Old Virginia occupied the site where a Japanese Tea House once stood on the world-famous Cawston Ostrich Farm. When the farm went out of business in 1935, the city re-zoned the property for light industrial commercial use calling it the Cawston Tract.

Pictured above: In 1942, the owners posted a sign “closed for the want of help” out front because waiters, cooks, and dishwashers were lured away from the kitchen to build ships, planes, and submarines for the war effort.

Note: The owner, Mr. Paul, also owned Chez Paul and a famous steakhouse the Buggy Whip (the Whip) near LAX. The Old Virginia later became the Italian restaurant Dominico’s – a popular lunch spot and favorite of the local swim club Sea Tigers where they held their awards banquets. All the buildings at this site have since been demolished. The property is now a dusty dirt lot used for parking by the studios when filming on location in our city.


Throwback Thursday is written and produced by 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.


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