Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Aug 10, 2010 11:02 AM

Little Joe's Italian Restaurant in Chinatown, Info Requested

Hello, I know Little Joe's closed years ago but the building still stands. I was wondering if any of you know the exact date it served it's last meals and closed it's doors for good. I think in December of 1998 they closed but I could be wrong and even if I am right I'd like the exact date. The building is there and after it closed I was sure it would be torn down but it was not. Wonder why they closed if the building is still there.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. This blog says Little Joe's closed in 1998.

      And this link to a LA Times story confirms it, was 1998.

      Interesting that the Velvet Turtle building is still there on Hill, too.

      6 Replies
      1. re: reality check

        Thanks for the info everyone. I do recall going to Little Joe's the last day they were in operation. Thanks for confirming it was December of 1998. Too bad there are no listings for the exact day they closed because I'd love to recall the actual day I went to eat there.

        1. re: reality check

          According to the Los Angeles Times the last day of business was December 5th 1998. I used to see Tommy Lasorda there all the time.

          1. re: wienermobile

            Then I was there Saturday, December 3rd. (I was there on a Saturday night the week they closed).
            The food was the worst that night. I thought to myself good thing they're closing because I hate getting ripped off.

            1. re: monku

              I used to go there now and then with the family when I was a kid back in the '70s. Some time in the '80s I stopped going then went again that last time so I could not compare the food of old and the last day and I don't recall how the food was. It's weird it's closed but still there. You'd figure they'd just knock it down and make new building there. There is a sign on it that says call the number for filming. I wonder how many if any TV or movies have been shot inside that place.

              I also find the Capital Milling building nearby as a fascinating place.

            2. re: wienermobile

              winermobile, thanks for the date. So now I know the last day is and the day I went there for the last time.

              Speaking of Tommy Lasorda, remember "Lassorda's" on Fairoaks in Pasadena. It's Carmine's now but Tommy L had a restaurant at one time. I went there once a long time ago when he had it and it was pretty good. No complaints from me.

          2. I thought this was obvious, but the building itself or the real estate is different from the entrepreneurial business effort there. The three brothers who ran it--one I think left to work with The Crazy Horse chain here in So Cal, and the other two brothers called it quits and retired. The family trust sold it to investors awhile ago I think. That family basically owned it for more than a 100 years and the building is even older.

            The brother who bought Crazy Horse, it's a country music venue, owned some Carl's Jr's before also. His family lives in San Clemente. The two brothers who were still involved at the time the decision was made to end the enterprise--decided the investment cost to upgrade and keep the business going was too high--the building would need to be earthquake retrofitted and made ADA compliant. I wasn't around then, but I heard its heyday was in the 60s and 70s when it was kind of a Dodgers hangout.

            Of the two brothers who closed Little Joe's, one lives in Pacific Palisades--you can probably find him mountain biking around.

            As far as the real estate, they were going to build something called Blossom Plaza there. Although the building is a remnant of the historic Italian American community from the late 1800s, the city didn't find it was worth historic value for preservation because of remodelling done during the business's heyday in the 1970s. The Gold Line added to the speculative value to the site. Anyway, like last year the investors filed for bankruptcy protection. So the site's future is uncertain in bankruptcy court. As is the promise to reopen the enterprise in the redevelopment . . .

            Crazy Horse Restaurant &
            1360 W Garvey Ave S, West Covina, CA 91790

            2 Replies
            1. re: apple7blue

              You seem to have an inside track.
              How about the Velvet Turtle property on Hill St. and Ord?

              1. re: monku

                Like a lot of downtown properties, it probably has an owner sitting on it waiting to be wealthy. I don't know details of that particular property--but if you go to City Hall, you can probably find out if you want. Velvet Turtle is almost certainly never going to return. I don't know if any remaining Velvet Turtles exist, but other chains have long replaced it.

            2. I used to walk by it almost every day for decades when I worked nearby, ate there a couple of times, food was very medicore. I think it was popular for the "good ol boys" of downtown, lawers, etc for drinking in the bar area and not for the food.

              1. Thank you very much for the information about Little Joes. My Grandmother used to take me to the kitchen in the back and buy raviolis for my birthday and we would have them for dinner. She started doing this when I was 5 years old. As I got older, I would drive from Temecula Ca, and do the same thing, go in the back kitchen and buy raviolis. I am 51 now and have missed making the drive and thinking of my Grandmother. It was a terrific ritual and I dearly miss it along with my dear Grandmother. I have wondered what happend to Little Joes since 1997 and have been doing searches on the internet since. It is terrific that I was able to find out what happend. Thank you so much for the information.
                I have a request, is there some place in Southern California where I can buy raviolis simular to Little Joes?? I know there probably is nothing that can compare, but anything close would be much appreciated.

                Thank you so much again for all the terrific information


                1 Reply
                1. re: Craniel

                  Craniel thanks for sharing your experiences at Little Joe's. Strangely enough the restaurant still stands yet was not knocked down or anything else built in it's place. Also down the street that old milling company from the late 1800s went out of operation about 15 years ago yet it still stands. Wonder about these places why they just didn't stay in business if no one bought the land to build something else.

                  I didn't go to Little Joe's as often as you so not familiar with the raviolis like you are but there is a great Italian restaurant that I love in Eagle Rock called Casa Bianca. You might try there and see if you love their ravioli if you have not tried yet. The wait is a long time but go there early on a Saturday when they open to beat the crowd and not have to wait.

                  I guess you can say CB is Chicago Italian. Don't know if there is a diff between Chicago Italian than say NY Italian or LA Italian but CB was opened by a Chicago transplant in 1955. I know Chicago thin crust is different than NY thin crust pizza or different than California style pizza but other Italian items not sure if there is a difference. The grand daughter runs it now with her husband and daughter. Check it out -

                  Casa Bianca -