The Cahuenga Pass Steamboat?

I suppose this is a question for the good folks at Curbed L.A. or the L.A. City Nerd (and I welcome both to answer if they’re reading this), but can anyone tell me about this building on the 3200 block of West Cahuenga Blvd.?

Built to look like a riverboat, a closer inspection indicates that this may have been a restaurant at one time. I’ve passed it a number of times over the years, always meaning to check it out. When I recently stopped by for a closer look, it appears that some of the outside walls have been recently removed, possibly an indication of a start for further renovation. I can’t recall if there used to be sidewheel facades on either side of the building, but those are definitely riverboat style smokestacks on top (contrary to some observations that the building isn’t trying to be a steamboat, but instead some style of Middle Eastern architecture).

My guess is that at some point this was a New Orleans themed restaurant, but my Google searches have yielded no answers.

Any other ideas?

12 Replies to “The Cahuenga Pass Steamboat?”

  1. I think it was orginally a restaurant, but it changed ownership a couple times.. When I used to work a couple blocks from there back in the mid 80s it was an eatery that specialized in vegetarian fare.

  2. Will’s right: it’s a former restaurant. I can’t tell you what it last was, but at one time it did sell burgers and similar fare.

    I do know that there is a lot happening in the Cahuenga Pass with the demolition of the Children’s Braille Institute, the construction of a project around the Historic Hanna-Barbera Studios, and the recent completion of the the Universal City Nissan expansion. Now with NBC-Universal getting in on the act, it wouldn’t surprise me if these little places along the Cahuenga Pass start renovating, as you indicated.

  3. I’m not sure what’s in there now but about a year and a half ago there was a caterer working out of there. I got really excited when production told me that I had to pick up lunch from the steamboat building on Cahuenga.

  4. Yeah, it was a catering place for years. They also served food, but operated mainly as a production catering outfit. Great food!

  5. Yes I used to work down the street and eat there several time a month. Caterer that had good food. Too bad he is gone. I forgot the owners name but he was a great guy.

  6. I believe it was a start-up (fried chicken?) franchise that had several locations in the Greater Los Angeles area in the late 1960’s.

    I seem to recall ‘Steamboat’ or something along that line as its first iteration.

    I recall at least two in the San Fernando Valley… maybe Kevin Roderick can share some light?

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  7. You should check out Jim Heimann’s book _California Crazy & Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture_. There’s a color picture of this place dated 1968. The two main signs say “Showboat — Ali’s Broasted Chicken” and “Showboat Broasted Chicken,” but it also has signs higher up on the building that say “BBQ Ribs,” “Hot Dogs,” etc. Heimann’s book has other great pictures of kitschy SoCal architecture; you can get it at most bookstores and definitely at places like Wacko.

  8. Arrrrrgh!! It was indeed “Showboat”. How the heck did I come up with Steamboat? Maybe it was Colonel Harlan Sanders playing tricks in my mind.

    (Forgetfully?) Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

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