Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: Ben Frank’s, 1962

Ben Frank’s, 1962

A brave pedestrian jay walks across the legendary and very busy Sunset Strip. Behind him a man hangs his arm out of a two-toned 1959 Chevrolet Station Wagon. It has gull-wing fins, cat-eye tail lights and a two-tone paint that coordinates with one of LA’s greatest coffee shops in its first year of business. Ben Frank’s sophisticated yet snappy harvest gold and orange color scheme is way ahead of its time. And that smart and sassy asymmetrical a-frame looks like a relaxed Der Wienerschnitzel or House of Pancakes

Among the plantings in the Palos Verdes Stone planters is a tri-tone sign post. Its part rocket, part spear, part paper airplane and part giant toothpick and labeled Ben Frank’s in a friendly font. Is Ben Frank short for Ben Franklin? I always pondered that question as I thoroughly enjoyed Liver and Onions there several Sunday afternoons in a row shortly after I moved to town in 1982.

Today, forty five years later the classic coffee shop structure still stands. But about decade or so ago Ben became Mel when Ben Frank’s quietly closed and morphed into a trendy retro diner called Mel’s Diner. I wonder if they have Liver and Onions on the menu.

Here’s to ’59 Chevy’s, Ben Frank’s, orange and harvest gold, Liver and Onions and YOU!

Charles Phoenix

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