Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.

(1965) Franks Restaurant, Burbank

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frankssignThis morning I got up early and walked to Frank’s for breakfast. Frank’s shares a parking lot with a motel I always call the HookerKill Motel, not because I have any reason to think hookers go there much less get killed there, but because almost any time you see a TV crime show where a hooker has been killed, the exterior is this place. The joy of Burbank.

-Frank’s has the structure of a classic Googie diner, but is incredibly drab inside. It is a symphony in brown; brown seats, brown counters and tables, brown wood paneling halfway up the walls . The rest of the walls are white, the ceilings are white stucco with inset lights. There are four framed muted paintings of flowers of the type you’d expect to see in the HookerKill Motel. The only other decoration is a small cluster of pictures detailing what shows have been filmed in Franks.

-I ordered a toasted bagel with cream cheese, bacon, and a dish of fruit. The cantaloupe tasted very weird–so much so that I wonder if I wasn’t confused and it was actually some other fruit–but everything else was fine.

frankswalloffame-According to the pictures on the wall, filming is frequent at Frank’s. CSI, Scorpion, Sons of Anarchy, Parks and Rec, and the movie Gone Girl have all shot scenes here, some of them many times. It occurs to me that this might be why they keep the place so generic; they want it to be unrecognizable from show to show. Except the sign in front stands out quite a bit.

-There was a guy sitting a few booths down from me, facing me, talking to his boothmate about mohawks in a loud southern accent. The way we were sitting, it was hard to not be staring him straight in the face if I was not staring down at the table. I did a lot of twisting around in my seat to avoid this.

-By far the brightest spot in the restaurant was the drinks dispenser behind the counter. It said “JUICE!” in big pink letters and there was a picture of a glass of orange juice and a bunch of fruit all in front of a blue sky… In most places you wouldn’t even notice it but here it was a delightful thing to look at for a moment, to remember beauty.

-The waitress was quite perky and friendly and brought me more water before I even realized I needed it. She looked like a teenager and seemed somehow out of place.

-A man on a phone came in and had a hard time choosing where to sit, just kept walking up and down the row of booths, talking on his phone, occasionally pausing at a booth and then changing his mind. He finally sat down directly behind me, which might not have been my first choice.

-As I was getting up to leave, I noticed for the first time that there was a tiny toy penguin, dressed in hat and scarf, on top of the drinks machine. It was the one bit of whimsy, the one decoration that looked like it was chosen by a human, in the whole place. I would have loved to know who put it there; the teenage waitress? The kind-faced, silent busboy? One of the cooks? I imagine that throughout their shift they glance at the penguin and it lifts their spirits just the tiniest bit, just enough.

-On the front door was a small sign saying they’re only open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. I really just don’t understand this place at all.

What I Ate: Bagel with cream cheese, bacon, fruit

What I Read While I Ate: “Counterfeit for Murder,” third in a collection of stories by Rex Stout about the cranky detective Nero Wolfe and his dashing assistant, Archie.

What Sort of Ghost I’d Expect to Find if I Believed in Ghosts Which I do Not: The guy who used to work the night shift at the motel next door; every morning he’d stop in for a piece of pie and a chat with the waitress before heading home.

916 W Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91506


One thought on “(1965) Franks Restaurant, Burbank

  1. I always see the Safari Inn on CSI so to me, that is the murder hotel. There was also an episode with a huge massacre at Frank’s, showing the sign and everything.


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