Our History

Our History


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.

Early 1930s

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.

Late 1930s

Fred & Lovey add an extension to PDC, with more tables and a more spacious, bar.

Late 1940s

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.


Wesley Idol II promotes his son, Wes III, to the position of president of the restaurant, continuing the family legacy into the 4th generation.


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.


Following the swift and unexpected decline in Wes Idol II’s health in 2019, the Idol trust falls into the hands of his 2nd wife, Toby Idol. She dismantles the 99-year-old-legacy restaurants. Wes Idol III shifts focus to popup restaurant & delivery, and online sales of their famouse steaks.


A fan of the PDC nominates the original building for historic-cultural designation which would pave the way for restoration. The nomination creates a huge outpouring of support from L.A. denizens.


Fans Win Historic Designation for Original Pacific Dining Car! L.A. City Council accepts the application to protect the original structure; Toby Idol loses bid to demolish the century-old landmark. Wes Idol begins next phase towards restoration goals.

Takeout is available 4-10pm. Your order must be placed by 9:45pm.