|From the Beachhead Archives - 25 Years Ago - March 1982 - #147
NO MORE POTATOES
by MOE STAVNEZER
"We love you and we
miss you all."
"Thanks for 15 years."
Lettered on a blackboard, that was what greeted me instead of an open door at the "no-name" restaurant the last week in January. In the other window was a sign with the details of when and how one could purchase the equipment inside. My favorite breakfast place in the whole world had closed...this time it seemed to be pretty permanent.
Known variously as "Nu Pars" and "Juergens" (your-gins) as well as "Closed Monday" for the sign in the window announcing same) and "Cheap and Cheerful" (by more recent and naive arrivals to Venice) the place became known to me as the Big Omelet" about 10 years ago. I was initated to the place by Annie and Phil when it was on Ocean Front Walk in the building, just south of the paddle-tennis courts, that more recently housed the much more expensive and chic, but nonetheless defunct, "Robert." Part of going to the "Big Omelet" included waiting in line for at least an hour to get a seat on weekends. The place was literally a hole in the hall--about a 10-seat counter and some tables crunched against the wall--but the generous portions and low, low prices made it a gastronomic must. Hell, one of the omelets and a serving of potatoes could render you helpless for the rest of the day. The special, 3 eggs, potatoes and toast, was a wonderful bargain at around 50c. (The potatoes were the best I found anywhere in L.A. right up to the last.)
I can't remember when Juergen Roscher (the origin of one name) and the family moved the restaurant to the Pacific and Windward location, seems like at least eight years ago. It was, apparently, the restaurant part of a health food store called Nu Pars and the sign bearing that name stayed up for a while which gave the new location its second most used name. Around that time the Venice Town Council was getting started and many of the activists hung out at NuPars. Anna Haag was one of the waitresses and, urged by John Haag, prevailed upon Juergen to allow some Town Council committees to meet in the place after closing time. Juergen, and almost all the people who worked at the place through the years, was apolitical as far as I could tell. Whatever statement the Roscher family had to make in Venice, it guess it was voiced in the kind of business they operated. Not a bad statement, as far as I'm concerned.
I remember only one flap involving Nu Pars. During the lettuce boycott, some pro-farmworker community people went to Juergen and asked him to stop using the boycotted produce. He refused and, for a while, many activists boycotted Nu Pars.
Being rather sloppy about dates, I can't remember when Juergen began to train another cook for the morning job. Most of us opined that the new guy would never last and certainly would never match Juergen's speed at dishing up the eggs et. al. We, of course, were wrong. Juergen took the show to a second location on Washington Street. But the new place never seemed to find its own identity and it soon failed.
I never really got to know Gene or Crystal Roscher (brother & sister) or their mother except to sometimes trade quips at the counter. It seems like a constant stream of these kinds of exchanges always bounced around the entire restaurant which gave the feel of a family affair. And that's the way I came to feel about Nu Pars--part of the Venice family. Its closing is like having part of the family, old and familiar, move away, and also represents the profound changes that have taken place here in past 10 years. I understand that the landlord raised the rent by a substantial amount when the lease expired. And, like many other Venice renters, the residents were forced to leave.
I miss Nu Pars. And I'd like to return the sentiments expressed on the blackboard sign. I feel pretty certain that I speak for the community in saying to all those connected with the late, great "no name" restaurant, MANY THANKS! We loved you and we miss you. (And please tell me how the hell to make those potatoes.)