Glendale’s on the menu for expanding House of Pies

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Los Angeles’ iconic diner House of Pies is expected to open in Glendale next summer, marking a reexpansion of a once-ubiquitous Southern California chain that has since dwindled down to one location in Los Feliz.

The new restaurant will occupy a vacant storefront on Glendale Avenue and Colorado Street, on the eastern side of the city’s business district, according to owner Victor Watana.

“I think that’s the best corner in Glendale,” said Watana said, citing its visibility and high traffic volume. “I feel they need a good coffee shop there.”

He bought the property on the corner that housed a rug and furniture store about seven years ago.

Another House of Pies location is slated to open in Venice in November, Watana said.

Vilia Zemaitaitis, principal planner for the city of Glendale, said the Glendale project is in the final stretch of the planning process.

Construction is anticipated to begin this summer and wrap up in approximately a year, during the summer of 2020, according to Anthony Coscia, co-founder of Coscia Day, the architecture firm behind the projects.

The menu will be the same — diner staples and, of course, a wide selection of pies — but the look will not.

Ditching the Los Feliz location’s kitschy, cottage-inspired style and distinctive pitched roof, the Glendale location will sport a modern design, with wood and metal wrapped around the entire structure.

Watana, who also owns Natalee Thai Cuisine, previously commissioned Cosica to design that restaurant’s Venice location.

There is a noticeable resemblance between that building and the firm’s renderings for the pair of new House of Pies restaurants.

Fittingly, inspiration for both the Glendale and Venice designs came from pie.

“It’s like going inside a pie, and it’s rising,” said Coscia of the Glendale location, which will have a high roof. “That’s the concept.”

Zemaitaitis described it as “a unique sculptural piece.”

For the Venice location, Coscia envisioned pie crust spilling over the sides of a tin.

In 2007, Watana purchased the Los Feliz location on Franklin and Vermont avenues that has become a mainstay in the offbeat neighborhood.

While the franchise, founded by International House of Pancakes creator, Al Lapin Jr., boasted 32 locations in Southern California in 1971, it was weakened by a class-action lawsuit and rising competition from other pie purveyors such as Marie Callender’s, L.A. Weekly reported in 2011.

By 1980, the restaurant in Los Feliz was the only House of Pies location still in operation.

“Coffee shops … cater to almost everybody,” Watana said when asked about the staying power of the Los Feliz location. “I think it’s a good concept in terms if of serving the people.”

A House of Pies reexpansion has long been in the works, but finding the right locations and getting building permits is a slow process, according to Watana.

Watana, who now only builds locations on corners with high traffic volume, said he will continue to expand if he finds additional quality sites.

Twitter: @lila_seidman