The Smoke House Restaurant

From The Leisure Architecture of Wayne Mc Allister By Chris Nichols

At the end of WWII, when the GM plant in Van Nuys went back to making Pontiacs, and tract houses started replacing the San Fernando Valley's bean fields, two Lockheed Aircraft workers named Jack Monroe and Jim Stockton started the Smoke House Restaurant in Burbank.

In 1946 it was a humble restaurant that seated forty-six people. The Red Coach Inn, a small restaurant opened and owned by actor Danny Kaye, sat empty on a prime lot directly across from Warner Brothers Studios, and in 1955 Wayne McAllister and partner William Wagner were brought in to build a new home for the Smoke House Restaurant. Their rustic Tudor Revival design completely surrounded the existing buildings and was finished with half timbers and river rock. The interior is a maze of lacquered paneling and plush carpeting under a heavy-timbered ceiling. The building is capped with an enormous pink neon "SMOKE HOUSE" sign that reflects in the Los Angeles River below.

The following year Jack Parr broadcast The Tonight Show from the restaurant as entertainers moved in and made the Smoke House their own. Owner Jim Lucero remembered his first time at the Smoke House as a kid in the '50s: "I loved its feel of excitement. The expanse of the place, the crisp white tablecloths, the red leather, the entertainment and all the people visiting; it was like a party." The cast of Laugh-In took over the place for their own riotous parties in the 60's. Actor George Clooney has a plaque on his favorite booth today.

The Smoke House's Webpage

Undated (but old) Smoke House Menu
(40 cents for a full order of garlic bread!)

Menu cover

Page one

Page two

Back cover

Burbankia hosts Wes (left) and Mike (right) enjoy a great Smoke House dinner out with their wives, September 2006.
This restaurant is a much-beloved Burbank Institution, and their garlic bread is to die for!

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