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Oakmont League Discovers Damon’s Storied Past

Oakmont League of Glendale members heard Bruce Merritt present the story behind Damon’s, one of Glendale’s oldest restaurants, at its recent meeting.
Merritt, a longtime Glendale resident who has retired from the law and is pursuing his interest in history, is the author of “St. Mark’s Journey: A History of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church” and has had articles published in the Southern California Quarterly.
He told league members that Damon’s was founded in 1937 on Central Avenue. The restaurant’s first menu offered prime rib, pan-roasted pork chops, BBQ, and seafood under the imaginative shelter of a palm tree. Later, murals and tiki huts appeared, along with a monkey or two.
In 1980, after 40-plus years on Central Avenue, Damon’s relocated to Brand Boulevard to make way for a Glendale Galleria expansion.
Merritt illustrated his talk, at Oakmont Country Club, with photos of the original restaurant, and of the palms and tiki décor, which made the move to the new place, along with several photos of Bettina Rakita Byrne’s murals.
Merritt told his audience that Byrne’s murals were inspired by menu covers presented to diners on the S.S. Lurline, a luxury-liner bound for Hawaii, and that the murals pay tribute to the Golden Age of Hawaiian tourism.
A new drink, Damon’s Famous Mai Tai, celebrated the 1983 move to Brand.
Many in the audience had patronized both the original and the current restaurant and luncheon conversation focused on memories of dining at the historic restaurant.
League members are looking forward to their November evening meeting with speaker Bill Berle, of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 40, which teaches San Fernando Valley youth to construct a flyable two-seat airplane under the mentorship of aviation experts.
More than 75 teenagers have participated in the free program since its start in 2021. The program, founded and led by Berle, teaches skills sought after by employers in the aerospace field and provides a way for youth to gain economic independence and better job opportunities without the burden of college debt.

First published in the November 4 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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