Dinah's Sepulveda Project | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Dinah's Sepulveda Project

UPDATE: A plan to retain the 1957 Googie-style Dinah's Family Restaurant building and marry it with a new infill housing development moved forward on September 22, 2022, with Los Angeles City Council support. With the exception of Dinah's, the rest of the site fronting Sepulveda Boulevard will be cleared to allow for the new development, consisting of 361 housing units (41 set aside as affordable). We need more projects like this that successfully integrate old and new, and demonstrate that this is possible, rather than demolition.

And while mostly good news, the proposal unfortunately calls for Dinah’s, a 65 year old legacy business, to vacate their longtime home during construction. It is uncertain if they will return. The Conservancy also calls on the developer to designate the Dinah's building as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) to ensure it has long-term protections. Know of other good projects that integrate old and new?

On May 23, 2022, the City of Los Angeles published its Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA) for the Dinah's Sepulveda Project. SCEA projects are those that have been determined to not have adverse impacts to the environment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Because they do not significantly impact the environment, they are able to access a more streamlined review process and do not have to perform a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that explores project alternatives. 

Located at the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Centinela Avenue in Westchester, the proposed project would redevelop an existing commercial strip center, adjacent to the Dinah’s Family Restaurant, with a 362-unit multi-family residential building with 41 units set aside for Very Low-Income households. The proposed building would be approximately eight stories in height and total approximately 365,000 square feet.

As part of the proposed project, the Dinah’s Family Restaurant building would be rehabilitated except for the small portion of the building used for take-out. Dinah's was constructed in 1957 and is an excellent example of Googie architecture. 

Despite the project’s rehabilitation of the restaurant, no guarantees are provided for Dinah’s retention following rehabilitation work. As a legacy business, Dinah's has served as a community space for residents and local organizations.

The Conservancy raised our concerns about tenant protections in our comment letter on May 23, 2022

Located near the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Centinela Avenue in Westchester, Dinah’s has been a neighborhood fixture since 1959. The Googie style diner, designed by architect Howard Tracht, originally opened in 1957 as a Henn’s Restaurant by owners Howard Fox and Harry Quinn. After just two years Fox and Quinn rebranded their diner as a Dinah’s Pancake House under the Dinah’s Chicken and Original Pancake House franchises in July of 1959.

Dinah’s Chicken restaurant franchises expanded during the late 1950s through the 1970s in the Western United States and Canada as a competitor to Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchises. Dinah’s branding used iconography of the Old South including Dinah a racialized caricature of a Southern Black “Mammy” figure whose likeness appeared in franchise advertisements. Such imagery targeted the wave of Southern and Eastern transplants who arrived in Southern California following World War II

Following Dinah’s Family Restaurant in Westchester, Dinah’s franchises opened in Huntington Park, Glendale, Hollywood and Long Beach. Of all the Dinah’s locations nationally, only the Westchester and Glendale locations remain in operation.