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Life and Arts

On the Town: Event celebrates history of well-known local restaurant Damon’s

U.S. Marine Corps vet and artist Kenneth James calls his photography art, “My Hand, Your Hand and a
U.S. Marine Corps vet and artist Kenneth James calls his photography art, “My Hand, Your Hand and a Helping Hand.”
(Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

An event called “Dinner at Damon’s” involved a lot more than digging into one of its signature steaks at the well-known Glendale eatery.

Some 60 members and guests of the Glendale Historical Society gathered in the Tiki Room earlier this month to learn about Damon’s history from its opening in 1937 on South Central Avenue to its present location at 317 N. Brand Blvd.

Steve Hunt, the society’s president, welcomed the history buffs and introduced the society’s board, including event chair Cathy Grayson.

Damon’s VIPs present were Vigen and Houry Ghazarian, Craig Missakian and Annmarie Tollar.

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Sean Bersell, former executive of the society and storehouse of all things Damon’s, told the restaurant’s story as part of the society’s 40th anniversary celebration.

The original owners were Loyal and Mona Damon. Loyal Damon was a candy maker with his own candy store in Los Angeles. He sold it to open Damon’s and went from sweets to meats.

Steve Hunt, Glendale Historical Society president, pauses in front of one of Damon’s several tiki-th
Steve Hunt, Glendale Historical Society president, pauses in front of one of Damon’s several tiki-themed murals.
(Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

Damon’s tiki motif was not initially intended, but there was a palm tree rooted in the middle of the original restaurant.

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Tropical accents, murals and plastic monkeys were added. Live entertainment also attracted customers.

In December 1980, Damon’s moved to its current location to make room for the second phase of the Glendale Galleria.

The Polynesian theme stayed — including thatching, tapa cloth and bamboo. Fish tanks were added. The dinner menu had nine items on it, featuring a steak and shrimp entree for $10.52.

In 2004, the Damon family ended its run, and the restaurant was sold to an incorporated group.

As the dinner progressed, a “Raising the Bar” event crowded the tiki bar. The evening’s signature cocktail, the “Glendale Ruby” was introduced, with proceeds benefiting the society.

Grayson led the toast in the Tiki Room.

“May we have a rosy future,” she said.

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On the third Saturday of every month, the staff of Wellness Works in Glendale throws a free barbecue for its service veteran clients.

This past Saturday, the sun shone brightly on the backyard of the organization’s headquarters, a former home on West Broadway.

About 50 vets lined up for their choice of burgers — salmon, garden or beef.

At the Wellness Works Bar-B-Que, John Harris, U.S. Army vet who fought in Viet Nam, is served cake b
At the Wellness Works barbecue, John Harris, U.S. Army vet who fought in Vietnam, is served cake by Trudi Abram, registrar of the Don Jose Verdugo Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
(Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

Volunteer chef Randy Koval, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, served up the vittles.

U.S. Army vet David Allen chose the beef. A client of Wellness Works, Allen lives in the Veterans Village of Glendale, a low-income apartment complex on Salem Street that focuses on vets.

He takes advantage of Wellness Works’ services, such as massage therapy. A cancer survivor, Allen has neuropathy in his feet. The massages lessen his pain. He pays for services via a sliding scale based on his income.

First up for chocolate cake was John Harris, a U.S. Army veteran who fought in Vietnam. Harris lives in Glendale with his son, who is a school teacher.

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The paintings of former Marine and artist, Kenneth James, adorn the therapy room of Wellness Works. James specializes in photography, and his goal is to sell his work and donate half of the proceeds to the organization.

Kathy Lynch, Wellness Works’ clinical director, acted as emcee for the afternoon.

Wellness Works’ staff and volunteers working behind the scenes to make sure all ran smoothly were Anil Arora, program manager and social worker; Cliff Ishigaki, board president; and Camille Levee, board member.

Sponsoring the barbecue was the Don Jose Verdugo chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. One of the volunteer food servers was Trudi Abram, registrar of the DAR.

Wellness Works was originally called Alive and Well, founded in 1986 and worked primarily with AIDS patients.

In 2007, a name change and different focus turned the organization into Wellness Works.

Its mission is to promote the reintegration of veterans back into the community.

Ruth Sowby Rands may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.


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