Carolina Pines and Carolina Pines, Jr. – Los Angeles, California

Carolina Pines postcard from the Illinois Digital Archives

The original Carolina Pines restaurant opened in either 1923 or 1924 or 1925 (even the restaurant would use all three years in their advertising) at 4619 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The proprietor, Rose Satterfield, opened the small cafe and tea room in with a seating capacity of just 12 people.

Rose Satterfield was described by the Los Angeles Times as a “tiny, dimpled, gray-haired widow with merry blue eyes, who knows she looks well in pink.” She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina and had no intentions of working for a living.

However, in early 1924 her husband died and Rose had to find a way to earn a living. With $600 to her name, she moved to Los Angeles in hopes of finding prosperity. Satterfield knew that she could provide delicious Southern cooking in an area that did not have authentic Southern food. The restaurant succeeded and became a success.

The Los Angeles Times – September 9, 1929

In September 10, 1929 the restaurant moved to its own building just down the road at 7315 Melrose Ave and the seating increased to over 200 people.

A renovation took place in 1931 and the hours were extended from 1pm to 8pm during the winter months and the restaurant was finally open on Sundays.

Over the years, the Carolina Pines gained a reputation as a place with good food and moderate prices. As the Depression gained a stronghold in Los Angeles, prices were reduced in order to lure customers to the restaurant to spend their hard-earned money.

Satterfield was known for closing the restaurant once a year for at least two weeks to go on a summer vacation. However, during the 1932 Summer Olympics that took place in Los Angeles, the restaurant and tea room remained opened to accommodate the numerous people from all of the world that were in town to watch the games.

Carolina Pines became known for its homemade pies. Rose made every single pie by hand, almost 600 pounds worth of dough a day. The pies, served in the Tea Room, became the Carolina Pines go-to-food. In 1933,  Satterfield announced that you could purchase a pie for home consumption. The move proved to be popular and business increased even more.

As the years went, Carolina Pines became a Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times – January 8, 1941

restaurant institution. The pies, the desserts, the hot rolls and  the Southern Hospitality all felt authentic. Unfortunately, the racism of the day, especially Southern racism and the restaurant’s use of  African-American servants and “Mammy” added an extra element of Southern authenticity.

1940s and 1950s advertising for Carolina Pines featured a racist caricature of a black woman telling patrons to “Dine in the gracious atmosphere of the Old South.” Later in the decade a minstrel show was added as part of the evening entertainment.

On January 10, 1947, two well-dressed, armed bandits walked into the restaurant and forced cashier Nellie Paynter to hand over the contents of the register. The thieves got away with $1089. I never found any evidence that the pair was arrested.

The Los Angeles Times – July 7, 1948

Rose Satterfield died in 1938 at the age of 63. The new owner was Julius Davidson. After a few years, ownership would be passed to his sons, Stanley and Marvyn and their business partner Sumner Ravitch.

In 1948, Carolina Pines celebrated their 25th anniversary, I think. In 1934 they celebrated their 10th anniversary and 14 years later they celebrated their 25th. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

To celebrate the remodeling the existing restaurant as completed remodeled. More seats were added, a new parking lot built, and a cocktail lounge added. The cocktail lounge was a change for the old restaurant, as for years Satterfield swore that the restaurant didn’t need a bar or lounge to survive.

On November 27, 1953 the restaurant was robbed again to by two men at gunpoint. However, Davidson was able to call the police and give a description of the men and their car. The men were arrested hours later with several thousand dollars and a loaded pistol in their possession.

In the summer of 1955, it was announced to the newspapers that a new Carolina Pines restaurant would soon open at the corner of La Brea and Sunset in Los Angeles.

This restaurant would be a revolutionary for the time concept. It would be a 24-hour coffee shop specializing in good, simple food. The restaurant would be called  Carolina Pines, Jr. as a nod to the original franchise. The food would be the same quality, price and portions but it was not a chain.

The new restaurant was  designed by noted Googie-style architect Eldon Davis, would be ultramodern in its design and amenities. A 40-foot sign, emblazoned with the Carolina Pines, Jr. name in neon, would be

The Los Angeles Times – July 3, 1955

Carolina Pines, Jr. opened in October 1955 and it become an immediate hit. The restaurant catered to third shift workers, night owls and insomniacs. The food was good and cheap and the coffee plentiful.

Postcard from my collection of the original location

In 1960, the original Carolina Pines would change locations to a newer, modern space. Davidson felt the move was a necessary step to  help bring in newer clientele and distance the brand from its Southern, more race-driven past. A Geisha Room would be a fixture of the new location at Century and Aviation across from Los Angeles International Airport. The restaurant, now called Carolina Pines International, opened in April 1960.

I don’t think the move worked, as I cannot find anything on the original Carolina Pines or Carolina Pines International after 1961.

A new location, another Carolina Pines Jr., also designed by Armet & Davis was announced in June 1961. The new location at 6th and Vermont in Midtown featured an unusual and beautiful design.

The Los Angeles Times – June 4, 1961

The $250,000 restaurant would hold 134 patrons in the 5,000 square foot space was designed with a roof system of eight thin-shell concrete arches and an air-conditioning system that could control the air-flow evenly. How I wish I could have seen it.

On October 29, 1965, the third Carolina Pines Jr. location opened at 16624 Ventura Blvd in Encino, California. Business was booming and the giant corporations took notice.

The Davidsons and Ravitch would ultimately sell the franchise to the Hyatt Corporation in 1968 .Shortly after the announcement all three Carolina Pines Jr.  coffee shops would be re-branded as Hyatt Coffee Shoppe locations. Within three years the Hyatt Coffee Shoppe brand would fold and every location closed. After nearly 50 years, the Carolina Pines name ended with a whimper. The buildings would all be torn down by the 1980s.

15 thoughts on “Carolina Pines and Carolina Pines, Jr. – Los Angeles, California

  1. I just remember the Caroline Pines at La Brea and Sunset having a fire in the 60’s and closing down. After the clubs closed at 2:00am the Carolina Pines was the go to spot. It was open 24hrs and had parking. After the fire, a new place was needed that would be open all night and also had parking. Canter’s on Fairfax became the new late hours hangout.

    1. I remember the LAX location. My uncle and aunt ran the coffee shop up until at least the late 60s. We would meet there when ever we went to LAX. I seem to remember the Sunset and LaBrea location too. I haven’t thought about it years. Then in the 70s, one of my best friend’s aunt was a waitress at Canter’s. We used to go there late at night and would sometimes catch celebrities hanging out in the back. I recently saw a Perry Mason rerun and there in the background of a street scene, the huge Carolina Pines sign was visible as a late 50s Corvette turned right off Sunset to LaBrea heading south.

  2. The Carolina Pines Junior near the airport was referenced in the article with a note that the author could find no mention of it after 1961. Well, it had an interesting history…

    The property actually had two businesses on site. Carolina Pines Jr was the coffee shop. And it also had a bowling alley, known as “Carolina Lanes.”

    In the early 60’s, I believe it was sold to a new owner who put a nightclub in there. It was also renamed to “Carolina West.”

    Eventually, the bowling alley closed (but was preserved for some reason) and the place became known for something else. Carolina West was known for its sign on Century Boulevard advertising “Nude nudes.” I knew the place well. Not as a patron, though, but as a cop responding to calls there. It could get pretty wild at times.

    Carolina West finally closed and was demolished in 2009.

    1. Yes, I used to work at the Carolina West as a “Doorman/DJ/Bouncer” back in 1985 – 1987. Wild times indeed.

  3. I have fond memories of the Carolina Pines restaurant during my every early life. We lived on North Vista Street just 2 blocks from the Carolina Pines on Melos Ave. This was probably around 1947-1950. The only disconnect with what I read in this article is I had the impression the restaurant was more of a cafeteria. I remember the cold slaw and jello being served in these little bowls. Seems like my mother took me and my sister there frequently as my mother was more or less a single mother and worked a lot. I remember the green, black and white colors used in the restaurant.

  4. I h0eard elvis Presley frequented Carolina pines for a while as well as crossbow club !charles

  5. I remember going to the Sunset & La Brea location in the 1950’s. The thing I liked the most was the sticky buns which were the best. Never was able to find a recipe for them though. I also lived near the Century Blvd location in the 60’s. The restaurant was nothing special but I bowled a lot at the lanes. It was much like JBW described above.

  6. Hello – my name is Marcia Ravitch Tanck and I am the daughter of Sumner who was one of the original partners in
    the Carolina Pines coffee shops. I wanted to add a couple of comments to this wonderful thread. Yes many
    celebrities frequented the Carolina Pines and Sunset and La Brea and Elvis was one of them (also Herb Alpert)
    Elvis came in rather a lot and the album Loving You was popular at the time and my dad brought my copy in with
    him one day and Elvis signed it. I so wish I had it but it somehow got lost in all the shuffles of life.
    Also the Carolina Pines at the airport also had many prominent entertainers performing at the bowling alley/bar.
    They included Ella Fitzgerald, Ike and Tina Turner and Sonny and Cher.
    The Sunset and La Brea venue however was the one my dad managed mainly and our family would make the drive from Cheviot Hills where we lived to eat dinner there with him several times a week. Their burgers were terrific and the clam chowder that was home made was incredibly special. I fondly remember cherry pie for dessert.

    1. I remember it well. My mom worked at the Pines and Lanes waitressing. Glen and Judy bot the bowling alley and Steinberg brought in great entertainment. Sonny Cher Chambers bros
      Ike Tina Nancy Sinatra… great memories

  7. I worked at the Carolina Pines Jr at Sunset and La Brea. I Helped open the Carolina Pines in Encino in 1965. They were great places to work.

  8. I happened to see a background street scene in Perry Mason which prominently displayed the Carolina Pines’ sign so I did a short internet check out of curiosity. Well, I’m very impressed by this post and all the details. Thank you.

  9. I was watching a 1950’s era noir-type film on TCM yesterday called, “Murder By Contract” starring Vince Edwards. In the last quarter of the film they were driving on what must have been Sunset and pulled into a driveway. I could make out the Carolina Pines sign down the street and was intrigued by the cool signage so I had to Google it. I figured I might as well mention the sighting. You can get a feel for what that area looked like back then. I wish that building was still there.

  10. I was watching the movie “The Model Shop” made in 1969 and I believe it shows the Sunset and La Brea location about 25 minutes and 30 seconds from the beginning. Googled it and here I am 🙂

    1. I used to go to that location with my parents back in the 1950s. My favorite thing was the sticky rolls. They were the best I have ever had. I have tried to find a recipe for them but have been unsuccessful. In the 60s there was a location at Century Blvd and Airport Blvd complete with a bowling alley. I spent a lot of time there since it was just a few blocks from where I lived. Unfortunately, they did have the sticky buns. Probably because it was a different owner.

  11. I also remember the Sunset and LaBrea location, and I too saw that same Perry Mason episode with the Carolina Pines sign in the background.

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