Boos Brothers Cafeteria, 530 South Hill Street, c.1932-2013

530SHillc. 1932-2013

By the early 1920s, the 500 block of South Hill Street had become one of the busiest sections of Downtown Los Angeles’ retail district, thanks to its prime location across from Pershing Square and its proximity to the heart of Broadway. In 1923, its prominence was only further cemented by the opening of the Metropolitan Theater at the southern end of the block. It thus came as little surprise in the following year when the Boos Brothers Cafeteria Company, then the city’s largest restaurant chain, began construction for its newest flagship cafeteria on the adjacent lot.

Pictured in the top photograph, the two-story building would house the sixth location of the Boos Brothers’ downtown cafeteria business, founded in 1906 by brothers Horace, Henry, John, and Cyrus Boos. Like all of the company’s previous projects, it was designed by Charles F. Plummer, who later formed the partnership of Plummer, Wurdeman, and Becket. A relatively rare example of Tudor Revival architecture in the city, the upper portion of the building’s Hill Street side featured a half-timbered wall and latticed casement windows, all under a slate roof. On December 3, 1924, the cafeteria opened its doors one day before meal service so that the public could admire its period English dining rooms and its modern kitchen.

Ultimately, the restaurant’s opening came at the peak of the Boos Brothers empire. Upon the retirement of the company’s founding members in 1927, the business was sold to the Childs Company of New York. Although its cafeterias continued in operation, the Boos Brothers brand was gradually eroded as its individual properties once again changed hands; by the late 1930s, the Boos name had largely disappeared. The building at 530 South Hill Street was demolished in 1960 along with the Metropolitan Theater. Its former footprint is now part of the International Jewelry Center (1981).

The best-known of the Boos Bros former locations [Urban Diachrony]

1. Boos Brothers. Advertisement. Los Angeles Times. 2 Dec. 1924. B14.
2. “Boos Brothers buys B. and M.” Los Angeles Times. 10 May 1924. 12.
3. “Boos cafes released to Childs.” Los Angeles Times. 20 Feb. 1927. E3.
4. “Cafeteria changes hands.” Los Angeles Times. 11 May 1924. D1.
Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “Buildings, companies supplied with Western dairy products, Southern California, 1932 – DW-1932-07-21-109~02.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections.

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