Longtime fixture Zinke’s to leave city

Longtime fixture Zinke’s to leave city
Zinke’s Drive-In Shoe Repair owner Mike Ramirez at his store on the 100 block of W. California Ave. in Glendale on Friday, March 21, 2014. Zinke’s is moving to Pasadena at the end of the month.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Known for its flickering neon sign that animates a hammer striking a shoe heel, Zinke’s Shoe Repair will soon be leaving Glendale for Pasadena after more than 65 years in business.

The name Zinke’s has been in use since 1919, but the store’s location at 119 W. California Ave. was built in 1941.


The distinctive sign went up in the 1950s, said Mike Ramirez, who started working at Zinke’s 42 years ago and eventually took over ownership.

He said April 26 would likely be the last day the business would be open.


Ramirez said the building’s owner sold the property to a developer and the structure is expected to be converted into a pharmacy.

Everything at the Glendale Zinke’s will be relocated to the Pasadena site at 250 N. Lake Ave.

"(Zinke’s) is my life,” said Ramirez, who moved to Glendale permanently about a quarter century ago. “I spend more time at the business than my own house for so many years, every day. It’s like my house.”

He said he’s amassed many regular customers. In moving to Pasadena, it doesn’t look like he’s going to lose them.


“I got so many,” he said. “Because everybody knows me and most of them are so sad, they’re going to follow me over there.”

Ramirez said he hasn’t come to terms with losing the Glendale Zinke’s, but he’s still good friends with the former property owner, Kathy Hobson.

He said he was given an opportunity to buy the property, but couldn’t afford it.

A representative for Hobson declined a phone interview Friday.


As for the neon sign on Zinke’s roof, Ramirez said he has yet to decide what to do with it. Options range from selling it, storing it or donating it as a historic item.

One party that’s very interested in receiving it as a donation is the Museum of Neon Art, which is in the process of moving from West Hollywood to Glendale.

“It’s an amazing sign,” said Kim Koga, the museum’s executive director.

The museum was once in possession of one of the three existing Zinke’s signs, but it was left unsalvageable after it was struck by a car in West Hollywood while on display along Santa Monica Boulevard, she said.


Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.


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