Friday, November 10, 2006

LA Times Ever Popular Correcting the Corrections Feature Returns! And Still Can't Get It Right!

First, the first correction:

Disappearing cafeterias: An article in Friday's California section about the dwindling number of cafeterias in the Southland said that Gorky's Cafeteria was in Hollywood. It was in downtown Los Angeles.

Now the correcting the correction correction:

Disappearing cafeterias: An article in Friday's California section about the dwindling number of cafeterias in the Southland said Gorky's Cafeteria opened in Hollywood in 1983 and closed in the early '90s. A correction to that article that appeared on Monday's A2 said Gorky's was located downtown. The restaurant's first location, in downtown Los Angeles, opened in 1983. Both it and the cafeteria's Hollywood location closed in the early '90s.

NOW... stay tuned for the soon to be coming... corecting the correction correction of the correcting the correction correction:

As anyone who actually went to Gorky's downtown knows, it was NEVER called Gorky's Cafeteria. It was always either just Gorky's or Gorky's Cafe. But I do recall it possibly also being called Gorky's Russian Cafe and I seem to (maybe) recall Gorky's Cafe and Brewery.

But I never recall it ever being called Gorky's Cafeteria.



Checking my 17 - yes, 17! - out-of-date restaurant, shopping and other LA guidebooks from the Gorky's era - I found 17 variants of Gorky's Cafe (mainly just Gorky's or Gorky's Cafe) - and zero mentions of Gorky's Cafeteria.

Also GOOGLING Gorky's Cafeteria finds exactly one hit.

And, yes, it is the LA Times.

(Also, for the record, there were several Gorky's Cafe and Russian Brewery hits.)


joseph mailander said...

Gorky's moved into the old Tick-Tock space in Hollywood circa 1988, but didn't last too long.

Scott said...

I moved to Hollywood in 1989. Gorky's was there. It went under around 1993.

I should note that while never called "Gorky's Cafeteria," that Gorky's was in fact a cafeteria. You slid a tray along a counter and picked up food sitting there. There was a server behind the counter who dished out stew and other entrees for you. That's a cafeteria.

The L.A. Times article didn't mention Cole's P.E. Buffet, which is also technically a cafeteria (take tray, slide tray along counter, get food handed to you by server).

By this definition, would Philippe's be a cafeteria? No! There is no self-service element. All your food and drinks are given to you by your server, including side dishes and desserts. There is no sliding of your tray.

robina said...

You are absolutely correct, it was never referred to as Gorky's Cafeteria in Hollywood, but either as just plain "Gorky's" or Gorky's Brewery. And I knew it because I was a member of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, and all of us church folks just loved the idea of the cafeteria after service. Affordable, family friendly restaurants were hard to come by in Hollywood, and the word about Gorky's got out quickly (akward that we were going to a brewery after church, but the cafeteria aspect won over). By the way, I was thinking of putting my very cool "vintage" Gorky's T Shirt on Ebay for sale (because I have two of them)'s black and reads on the back; DRINK RUSSIAN BEER. What do you suggest my opening bid level should be?? So nice to talk about Gorky's again!! Brady, drop me a line and I would like to discuss our old Hollywood cowboy stories with you!

robina said...

You are absolutely correct: it was known as just plain "Gorky's" or Gorky's Brewery, in Hollywood. I know because I was a member of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, and the word about Gorky's got around fast, because church folk love a good, family friendly restaurant, let alone cafeteria type. All of which are hard to find in the Hollywood area. It's demise was a sorrowful passing. By the way, I was just about to post my "vintage" T Shirt from Gorky's on ebay (because I have 2), it's black with "DRINK RUSSIAN BEER" on the back. What would you suggest my opening bid should be?? Also, please contact me to share some stories of an old Hollywood cowboy....

carolyn said...

I worked at Gorky's downtown before the brewery nonsense started. You're right, it was Gorky's, Gorky's Cafe or Gorky's Russian Cafe.

Gorky's was originally opened by a woman (I don't know her name) who knew something about Russia and Maxim Gorky -- but she was bought out by owners Fred & Sherrie, who didn't give two farts about the people or the revolution. Ah, see what their capitalism got 'em.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in Gorky's downtown. It was always just plain Gorky's.The owner Fred and Sherry later turned the vacant space next door in to a brewery. It was a very cool place you could enjoy all the fresh and tasty foods or go next door for the beer.They later opened the Hollywwod location but I still liked the downtown better!!
I know live in Ga and was planning to visit Gorky's but as I found out in went under a long while ago.

judith said...

I'm the unnamed woman who started Gorky's Cafe in Nov. 1982. It started as a breakfast/lunch place with 7 employees and by the time I sold it, in 1985, the staff had grown to around 50 and we were open 24 hours. I was exhausted.

I eventually went back to being a high school/college librarian but remember fondly the wonderful characters who came through Gorky's. I later married Raymond Hansen, the handsome bearded bald guy with the bright blue eyes who kept me company through some rough times at Gorky's, including bomb scares, equipment breakdowns. and crowds beyond control.

I would love to connect with a few workers from Gorky's days including John Reeves and Amelia Barker. Any idea where they are?
Judith Markoff Hansen
Downtown LA/Berlin/Sofia

Brady Westwater said...

I saw you quoted in the Downtown News last month. And there be a panel discussion/reunion of sorts of the survivors of the 1980's Downtown nighttlife scene, I THINK, this weekend. Send me your email and I will let you know.

km said...

I worked at Gorky's Russian cafe as a food server in 1985. I was given a job there from the LA Rescue Mission when I was down on my luck. I remember an episode of Cagney & Lacey was filmed there soon before I left. I didn't last because I was a little too straight for the management. In 1985 in LA if you were straight you were a rebel and an odd ball and people cast you aside.

Pierre Chemaly said...

Yeah, it was just good ol Gorky's or Gorky's Cafe. Hell yeah, what a joint to take a date. I am doing a photo shoot downtown and I want to take the model to some fun place, and Gorky's sprung to mind, even though it has been closed almost 20 years. Ironically the model is Russian and I'm sure she would have loved it. I remember well. when they said it was going out of business, for the life of me I could not figure out why. It was always packed and everything was top dollar, so I guess there was more to it than what I heard.
I miss you Gorky, there will NEVER be another you. I will drive by the place for old times sake. I'd like to see what's there now. I'll tell Vikulishna about it. Now only a memory. While looking for a restaurant on the internet, I was hoping against all hope, that maybe, just maybe, good ol' Gorky's was still there. - Pierre Chemaly. said...

Having started Gorky's, which opened in 1982, it's kind of amazing to read that people's memories still hold it well intact.

I sold Gorkys in 1985 to Fred Powers who built the Brewery and changed our t-shirt and logo and the "real politiks" of the place.
The times were also changing the politics. It was sold as Gorkys Cafe but I kept The People's Muffinry across the parking lot. That was then bought by my husband Raymond and he ran it until 1989 when we moved to Germany.

The Gorkys sign at 8th and San Julian is still there. I'm still a downtowner but I tend to look forward and not backward...what needs to be done in the neighborhood, what shouldn't be done, etc. The area needs trees. The area does not need higher rents for the struggling fabric folks on 9th street. The Weingart is shabby and needs care. There is some new, if not very limited low income housing along San Pedro...some with wonderful architecture. Stuff like that.

Gorkys could be done again by someone else. The places opening downtown are too expensive and only Phillipes and Weezies are really touching the need for inexpensive hangouts with food. Greed destroyed Gorkys, but greed is becoming un-cool. Gorkys was started with a political vision and others are again sharing that

Do it! Rent a big space in one of the "becoming available" storefronts and have a vision. But don't expect to make a lot of money and don't expect to
get much rest. It's
a tough business, but in the end
you too might feel pleasure in that what you created has lasting meaning.
Judith Markoff Hansen
(now a renter at Bunker Hill Towers)

Ken Perry said...

I too worked at Gorky's in the eighties and was there during the Cagney and Lacey filming, also when Valerie Bertanelli filmed a scene for Shattered Vows. I met Eddie Van Halen that day and I still have the coffee cup that valerie used in that scene. Judith Markoff was the owner then, and it was probably the best job I've ever had. I remember the crowds, the famous people that came through the door, Hershel the homeless guy who was always hanging around outside, the chess games that were a daily occurance and the cast of crazy characters who worked there. I remember Fred Tomeselli, Tom Agawa, Paul erika, Carlos the bus boy and many many more! What a great memory to have and share with my family and friends. Judith if you're reading this..I would like to say hi, and let you know you had a great cafe and working there was a pleasure!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I was working at Gorky's from February 1986 till aroud the end of '89. I remember Fred and Sherryl, they inspired me a lot because they were both hard working people. I started as a server, yes I remember Borscht soup, Piroshki, meat loaf, the most famous omellets, the sandwiches and oh yes, muffins, famous beers from around the world, art exhibit, live music on weekends and the brewery came later. I remember Ms. Claudia Schiffer had a foto shoot there for Guess at the brewery - she is so sweet. I was working at the cash register and my co-workers were (some I remember) Sergio, Zuhair, Eldad, Monique, Jake (he died in 2008, RIP) and of course Sherryl my supervisor, she hired me.

I wonder where these people are now. I hope they are all well. If you read this, I miss you all!

My name is Ely.

I Have Destiny said...

oh man, I miss Gorky's... so many memories there...
It was so much fun to bring new people to see/hear Blind Joe or whomever (on Sundays I think), experience borsht for the first time or have a bowl of steamed veggies w/ sour cream & horseradish sauce. Even met a soon-to-be significant boyfriend on a busy Sat evening when "encouraged" to share a booth together for the sake of space - in the spirit of community. Love the idea that both the successful panhandler and limo-ed couple in formal attire are comfortable sharing a meal in the same room together.
i still google Gorky's from time to time .. hoping against hope that Gorky's has somehow been resurrected.
Never really liked any of the other locations outside of the original on San Julian.
Gorkys-You are sorely missed -on so many levels. But THANK YOU for what once was.

michael friedman said...

I worked at Gorky;s Hollywood for 14 b in 1989-90. I was the Chef/Kitchen Manager. It was an interesting place to work. I remember a fellow who worked as a bartender by the name of Kyle Chandler... I believe he went on to do TV and Movies. The highlight of my time there was when Tony Bennett showed up for a publicity shoot and told me he had a bad cold. I offered to make him some Chicken Soup. It took me about 5 min to put together a Quick Chicken Soup. He tipped me $20.00!
Ahh Gorky's. Rest in peace!
Michael Friedman