Papoo's Hot Dog Show in Toluca Lake is closing
Papoo's Hot Dog Show, a Toluca Lake institution, will close its doors this Sunday. The restaurant caters to the "old Toluca Lake crowd," customers who regard this place as their neighborhood hangout where a person can get a hearty breakfast, a hot dog or a nice cold beer. Owner Leona Gardner said she decided to sell the restaurant because it needed more attention than she could give it, namely an extensive remodeling that she couldn't afford amid loss of profits from the economic downturn.
When I entered the red, white and black diner it was filled with customers being served by one waitress, Maria Cavalluzzi. She has been working at the restaurant for 14 years and, according to one customer, is the reason people keep coming back. Cavalluzzi knows everyone by name and their order. "When I walk in the door, she already has my bread in the toaster. You just don't get service like this from anyone," said customer Don Herbert.
"We are like a family here," said Cavalluzzi, who holds out hope that the new Italian restaurant replacing Papoo's will hire her.
Regulars, most who eat at Papoo's five times a week, are sad to see it go. Joseph Orozco has been coming to restaurant for 20 years. His friend William Staples said, "Places like this, with charm, are closing because they do not fit the cookie cutter design." Another regular, Tony Altieri feels that the area is becoming "too corporate" and that "newer is not necessarily better." These loyal customers will continue to eat at Papoo's until the bitter end because it's not just a restaurant to them, it's a landmark.
4300 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank, (818) 846-1511.
-- Leah Rodrigues
Photo: Don Herbert and Maria Cavalluzzi in Papoo's Hot Dog Show. Credit: Leah Rodrigues.