I still remember Nickodell, nestled between KHJ Channel 9 and Paramount Studios on Melrose almost as if it were a part of the studio complex. I was lucky enough to go there (way past its heyday) in the 80’s to grab an ice cream at the counter on a trip to the Paramount lot. I still remember snapping a shot of the mighty neon sign atop the building. Traveling up Melrose nowadays, I can almost still see it through the fog of history.
In 1936, restauranteur Nick Slavich took over the joint originally called the Melrose Grotto, and made it his own, at some point re-dubbing it Nickodell, a mash-up his and his wife’s names. (He owned another Nickodell a bit north on Argyle, but that’s another story.) It was an eatery (and boozery), largely popular with studio types, dishing out old school American fare like steaks, baked potatoes, and beloved Caesar salads.
Nickodell closed in November of ’93 and was subsequently demolished by Paramount in ’94 to make way for a few more spots in their parking lot, leaving us only with a few matchbooks and fond memories.
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This was my bowling alley. A few blocks east on Pico, at Westwood and Pico, The Picwood Bowl. I could walk there and I did. Endless entertainment because it was open 24 hours. Damn! Three levels of steps & chairs down to the main floor where the balls were tossed. A sunken cocktail lounge with trophies and forgotten odes to alcohol behind display glass. Always felt a bit weird sitting on a bar stool in that sunken bar – tall on the chair but short to the rest of the world up on level ground bowling.
But one day the lanes were stripped of their wood and the building flattened for one gigantic ugly hell of a shopping mall. Some post modern monstrosity. Designed by an architect raised on junk food & profit margins. Yes, the family who owned the lanes sold out. I hope the hell they made a lot of money because they made a lot of folks pretty damn unhappy when the sold out.
Across the street the Apple Pan still flips out burgers and pies, some of the best in Los Angeles.