After decades, Callahan’s will serve its last French toast today.
The building was purchased by new owners earlier this year and the diner’s lease expires on Jan. 1. The restaurant owners will close out 2014 with a breakfast and lunch shift today.
Ingo’s Tasty Diner, a farm-to-table restaurant, will replace Callahan’s next year.
The restaurant group behind Ingo’s, LGO Hospitality, also owns The Misfit on Santa Monica Boulevard at Second Street and three establishments in Pasadena.
The same restaurant group owns an Ingo’s Tasty Food in Phoenix, Ariz. that has 132 reviews and 4.5 out of five stars on the crowd-sourced review site Yelp.
Vienna Pastry, which rents the other half of the building, has an eight-year lease and will be staying put.
Abraham Vazquez, who has owned Callahan’s since 1988, told the Daily Press earlier this year that he was not able to afford the rent proposed by the new owners.
Vazquez, who is the brother City Council member and future Mayor Tony Vazquez, worked at Rae’s restaurant for decades before buying Callahan’s from its original owners. Despite his Mexican roots, Vazquez opted to stick with Callahan’s name. Saint Patrick’s Day remained a busy holiday for the restaurant but Cinco de Mayo had become just as popular, Vazquez told the Daily Press earlier this year.
Vazquez’s daughter, Leticia “Letty” Vazquez, died earlier this year at the age of 45. Her funeral at St. Monica’s church was attended by more than a thousand people, according to Daily Press archives, and Vazquez credits her for the restaurant’s popularity.
“She helped me with everything and everybody knew her,” Abraham Vazquez said earlier this year. “She’s been working in here since she was very young and it’s much harder without her.”
Some fans of Callahan’s have taken to Yelp to eulogize the diner.
“I’ve been coming here for about 25 years and had to make one more pilgrimage,” said one user. “Eggs over easy, biscuits and gravy. I’ll miss this island of comfort food in the heart of Santa Monica.”
“Yes, it’s an old funky diner,” said another. “The food is good, inexpensive, and the staff is friendly. A real breath of fresh air if you are tired of the pretentious yummy scum infested eateries in Santa Monica.”
Building owner and restaurateur Bob Lynn told the Architectural Review Board last month that he will restore the building, which was built in 1946.
He plans to add the building to the historic register and restore the classic blade sign, which reads “RESTAURANT.”
Lynn got approval to add a neon sign, which will state the new restaurant’s name. They also got approval earlier this year to serve alcohol at the building, located on Wilshire Boulevard at 12th Court.
Callahan’s is the most recent in a line of diners that have closed up shop in the past year and half. The Omelet Parlor closed last December after 37 years on Main Street. Norms closed last July. Denny’s closure is pending as landowners negotiate with City Hall over the shape of a new development on the property.