Fond memories of Apple Pan
Charles Perry’s May 16 article about the Apple Pan [“What Is it About This Place?”] inspired dozens of letters. Here is a selection; more are on latimes.com.
MY first visit to the Apple Pan was on my 15th birthday in 1947, the week it opened. I was back there on April 11 this year for their 60th anniversary. I always sit at Hector’s counter. We are the fourth generation of our family to be customers. The best part is when Martha Gamble wouldn’t sell her property to the corporation that built the building at the corner of Pico and Westwood. That not only shows her loyalty to her employees, but to her customers as well.
YOUR article brought back memories of what I consider to be the precursor of this sandwich shop. In the late ‘30s or early ‘40s, there was a restaurant on the corner of Sherbourne Drive and Pico Boulevard called the Kentucky Boys, owned by two brothers.
The configuration of the counter, the “grill” (if you could call it a grill at that time due to their cooking their hamburgers in a thin pool of oil) and the menu were all similar to the “Pan” -- the Kentucky Boys even offered a hickory burger.
YOU perfectly captured the ambience. The Apple Pan’s are maybe not the best burgers, but they are the best fries (who knew they were frozen?) and the best tuna sandwich (with extra pickles). It’s the place I go when I want to be reminded about the many things I love about eclectic Los Angeles. There’s always someone interesting seated next to you, and fascinating people watching. I’m a “right sider,” and even though I may go there only once or twice a year, Hector always remembers me. He’s always there with a napkin and ketchup just at the right time.
Thanks for the tip on “fried onions on request.”
THE Apple Pan isn’t just a “tiny building that houses a world.” The Apple Pan is the world -- at least the world of hamburgers. There is no better hamburger in the world. Or in the universe for that matter.
You left a few things out. Would you like mayo with your fries, a la Brussels? You’ll get half a jar or so on that recycled paper plate. A little hot sauce for your ketchup? Ask for some -- you’ll get a big bottle.
I was enchanted with your article on the Apple Pan. I am a dietitian who used to teach in heart attack prevention programs and morbid obesity clinics. However, I myself was addicted to the Apple Pan for 23 years, until I moved to the Valley in 1991. Still today, if I’m in the neighborhood, I can’t help but go there -- my car drives there by itself. You are right that there are unspoken rules about where you sit and who gets to sit first. It is a microcosm of a civilized society where you wouldn’t dare grab a coveted seat away from someone who came in before you.
To me the smell of the hickory sauce is sexy and seductive and should be bottled as a perfume. The meal is caloric but first-quality and worth every calorie and morsel of saturated fat. If you eat only healthful, low-calorie foods, you don’t live longer, it just seems longer.
IT’S reassuring that there is still a place that goes for its own unique quality without stinting on preparation or ingredients. How many of us cut our counter-dining teeth at the Apple Pan? My first job was at the Lone Ranger, where Barnes & Noble now sits; it was a sort of McDonald’s clone that lasted about five minutes. We would go to the Picwood Theater on Saturdays and then get apple pie a la mode across the street. With Landmark Cinemas about to open, maybe we’ll restore that routine once again.
THERE are two things I remember clearly about my family’s move to the Westside in 1959: The gas man had not turned on the gas so my mother couldn’t make dinner that first night, and the taste of the wonderful hamburger at the Apple Pan that my dad bought us as a consequence. It was the best thing I had ever tasted, and whenever I get the chance to stop in, it still is.
DORY TANNENBAUM LEWIS
WONDERFUL story. It made me want to jump into my truck and drive 750 miles for lunch.
But I probably won’t.
I’M sure my recollections will be just a few of many from your readers who grew up with the Apple Pan. My mother used to bring me there in a stroller. I proposed to my wife there, with Gordon the waiter as a witness.
When I was stationed in San Diego in 1966, I went AWOL from the base and flew back to L.A. because I had a “jones” for a hickory burger. The place was nearly empty, with no one on the right side -- my side -- except Gordon. I managed to eat two or three hickory burgers, some fries, a piece of apple pie with a slice of cheddar on top and hot cinnamon scented sauce and enough coffee (with real cream) to float a naval vessel. I took back two or three burgers when I returned to the Naval Training Center early the next morning.