One City, Four Generations: PDC is Continually Evolving
Fred Cook, an opera singer who’s voice failed early, and his wife Grace (knowns as ‘Lovey’) re-settle from the East coast to open the restaurant in a remodeled dining car on a plot of land on the edge of downtown Los Angeles.
Fred & Lovey put in their own curing box, and begin transporting their Prime beef directly to PDC for hanging and aging.
At the height of the Great Depression, Lovey regularly invites those who stop by the restaurant for ‘any kind of work or a meal’ to ‘come back at nine. That’s when the staff eats, and you’re welcome to a free meal with us.’ Whatever was left over, Fred and Lovey would bring down to the mission.
With prohibition’s end, the family adds a tiny 3-stool bar.
Wes Sr. takes over the running of a new venture, Cook’s Steak House in downtown L.A.
Fred & Lovey add an extension to PDC, with more tables and a more spacious, bar.
Fred adds a barbecue stand to the front of the lot, catering to the meat-hungry takeout crowd. (shades of things to come in the next century)
Virginia & Wes Sr. buy the restaurant from Grace, and Wes II begins serving his apprenticeship. They remodel, and remove the BBQ stand out front.
Wes II visits the fine wineries of France & Germany, buying from grand and small European houses, and forming the nucleus of what was to become one of the widest selections of great imported and domestic wines in the city. He upgrades the restaurants beef to USDA Prime.
Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway star in Chinatown, featuring a scene shot on Witmer with Pacific dining Car in the background.
Wes II purchases the restaurants from his mother, and ushers in the nuances of fine dining, as well as a menu expanded to include veal and fresh seafood to appeal to the calorie- and cholesterol-conscious patrons of the era.
As part of the move towards the fine dining aesthetic, the restaurant is redesigned, removing the open grill and counter seating, and adding classic red leather and white linen table cloths.
Wes II opens the Santa Monica location.
James Ellroy, who includes scenes at the Pacific Dining Car in several of his novels, marries (and later holds his divorce party) at the restaurant.
Wes III begins his apprenticeship, and helps usher in the extension to 24 hour service, a unique offering for fine-dining restaurants of the day.
Noire in the new millennium arrives at the Dining Car when Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke film scenes for “Training Day”.
Famed interior designer Tom Hamilton brought a lavish and extraordinary style to the restaurants’ full interior re-design.
Wes III combines French and American aging techniques to create an even more tender and flavorful Prime.
The challenges of operating during a pandemic lead the Idols to shift focus to online sales of their corn fed USDA Prime aged steaks.