This Burbank deli's walls go to the cartoonists

At Moore's Deli in Burbank, Homer Simpson can be found eating a burger while Dora the Explorer dreams up her next quest, “Adventure Time's” Lumpy Space Princess raves about the deli's tuna and “Futurama's” Bender smokes a cigar.

Restaurant owner Robert Moore harbors a hidden cultural gem in Media City — the four white walls of the deli's back dining room are covered with original artwork by cartoonists for powerhouse media companies with local headquarters or production offices, including Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Warner Bros.

Some of the drawings are simple sketches, others are fully drawn and colored in. But they have one thing in common: they've all been seen on TV.

It all started two years ago, when Moore noticed a bunch of his customers doodling on napkins.

Many of them, he discovered, were animators for Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon — studios that have offices within walking distance from the deli.

When Moore looked around and noticed the bare white walls of his deli's back room, he had an idea.

He hustled to a nearby office supply store and bought a bowl of colorful Sharpies.

“I placed the bowl on the table and said, ‘You guys could start drawing, but you have to sign your name,'” Moore said.

“We were all like, really?” recalled Cartoon Network's Kent Osborne, a writer for “Adventure Time” who invited fans on Twitter to the show's viewing party at Moore's, where the Sharpies would be put to use.

At first, no one believed him.

“Saw the owner at lunch, he had a bag of sharpies! #MooresDeliDrawingOnWallRumorsAreTrue,” Osborne tweeted that afternoon.

That night, the first drawing — of SpongeBob SquarePants — was etched onto the wall.

Days later, other local cartoonists came in for lunch and noticed the art. They, too, wanted a piece of empty white wall space.

“They said, ‘Hey can I do our show?'” Moore recalled. So he supplied them with markers.

Moore's is now home to the work of roughly 50 cartoonists covering the walls with characters from the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Mickey Mouse,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Family Guy.”

“People just show up — they know where the pens are,” Moore said. “Every time I come back here, there's something new.”

The walls are symbolic of Burbank's cultural landscape, Moore said.

“When you open up a restaurant you want to become part of community — the community in this area happens to be cartoonists.” Moore said. “This room just became a place for them to hang out and draw on the walls.”

And for fans to drop by for a bite and a little inspiration.

Since discovering the cartoon wall, Elle Anderson — an aspiring stage or film director who loves “Adventure Time” — has become a Moore's regular. It's an ideal place for the 19-year-old to power through her third novel, which she plans to self-publish online.

“It's pretty organic,” Osborne said. “I'd be excited if I was a kid to come check this out.”


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World