Hollywood : Ontra Cafeteria Demolition

The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency has approved the demolition of the controversial Ontra Cafeteria, once a landmark Hollywood building that was severely damaged by a fire five months ago.

The company that owns the building, Herbert Properties, which had sued the city to gain permission to tear it down, received the redevelopment agency’s permission to demolish the structure late last week. The owner plans to build a 90-space surface parking lot on the site, according to an Aug. 4 memo from Cooke Sunoo, the agency’s Hollywood project manager.

In processing a demolition permit for the structure, the agency determined that the parking lot is a permitted use of the site under current zoning and land use codes and the Hollywood Community Plan, Sunoo said.

Because of the historic character of the building, the agency has required that a photographic record of its architectural features be prepared and that preservation organizations be allowed to identify and remove any unique architectural features.

The former cafeteria, at 1717-1719 Vine St., was the site of Hollywood’s first post office and was later a favored gathering place for hungry actors and other film-industry workers.


City Cultural Heritage Commission officials had sought to protect the building by designating it as a landmark but were rebuffed recently by a judge who said the city overstepped its authority in trying to do so.

Although Cultural Heritage Commission officials sought city permission to appeal the judge’s ruling, the City Council declined to intervene to save the building.