This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
The Original Marie Callender's Has Closed Its Doors
There's just something about American diners. Maybe it's the faint waft of over-brewed coffee, or the promise of pancakes at 1 a.m., or the endless supplies of coloring mats. Whatever it is, nothing says Americana—or stokes our feelings of comfort and nostalgia—like a roadside eatery.
So it is with great sadness to say that, as reported by the OC Register, the original Marie Callender's in Orange has shut its doors. A note on the door reads: "Thank you for all the love and support. We are very thankful to have shared many meals (& pies), holidays, and memories with you."
Don Callender, son of the titular baker, opened the Orange location in 1964. The family-style restaurant would later expand to become one of SoCal's most recognized pie sellers. Need to make a last-minute pick-up before a holiday party? Marie Callender's always had your back.
The franchise's early days was a close-knit affair:
Marie Callender started her home-based bakery in the late 1940s. With the help of her husband, Cal, who did the books, and son Don, she sold the family car for $700 and moved her wholesale baking operations into a World War II Quonset hut stocked with a small oven, refrigerator and rolling pins.
The closure is part of a downward trend for the franchise and other like-minded restaurants. There were 156 Marie Callender's in Southern California in 1998. Today there are only 61. Howard Johnson's, once a fixture on the American highway, is now down to two restaurants nation-wide. Many family-oriented chains are struggling to stay relevant in an era of hyper-fast service and novel dining concepts.
Marie Callender's is also responsible for this writer's favorite anecdote from a Beatle. Here's Paul McCartney in a 2001 issue of Reader's Digest:
McCartney: We had this one day off while we were recording, and it rained a lot in February in L.A. But we didn't mind because it was still nice. So I hired a little black Corvette, which is one of my little perks. I was enjoying myself, driving around. Because it's L.A., you're in America, the land of Corvettes.
Heather and I took off up the Pacific Coast Highway past Malibu, in the rain. So we were driving in the rain and we stopped off for lunch at what we thought was a really classy restaurant. And we got back to the studio and said, "Wow, we had a great day yesterday."
And everyone's saying, "Yeah?"
We said, "Yeah, we stopped at a great classy little restaurant. You probably even know it."
They said, "What was it called?"
It turned out it's like a chain, famous for like big pies. And we thought really classy, and they're all hollering, they're all screaming, laughing. It's Americana!
I said, "What are you all laughing at?" We thought it was a find, you know.
That leisurely road trip was the inspiration for McCartney's "Driving Rain":
So long, original Marie Callender's. We'll be buying your Boston cream pies at another location.
How to get the best eggs in town without leaving your yard.
Beautiful views aren't the only thing drawing Angelenos to the region
Gab Chabrán reflects on growing up in L.A. in a Latino home that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving and the traditions they formed instead.
Oklahoma-style smash burgers and Georgian dumplings make for some excellent cheap bites in Glendale
Husband and wife Felix Agyei and Hazel Rojas combine food from their heritages, creating a marriage of West African and Filipino cooking
Baby Yoda cocktails. Boozy Dole Whips. Volcanic tiki drinks. If you can dream it, they're probably mixing it somewhere on property.