Walker’s Cafe is one of the oldest restaurants in all of Los Angeles, a much-loved cafe by the sea in San Pedro that has been a part of local families’ lives for over seventy years.
It was founded in 1946 by a Navy veteran called Raymond J. Walker and his wife Bessie Mae, and its origins go back more than a century. It started out as a grocery store/soda fountain, but in 1936 became a bar called Cuddle Cafe before the Walkers took it over after the end of the Second World War.
Walker’s is a community institution. It’s a genuine, unpretentious, homey space where people from all walks of life—longshoremen and fishermen, hikers, bikers, firefighters, service members stationed at Fort MacArthur—have been coming together for decades. Generations of San Pedrans have come to eat the famous “Bessie Burgers,” enjoy the amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island, and talk as neighbors and friends. People have gotten married there, brought their children and grandchildren there. Bessie Mae Petersen, who passed away in 1996, remains a legendary figure in San Pedro, beloved for her unfailing generosity to those in need and for creating a welcoming gathering place that has stood the test of time.
Walker’s has featured in countless iconic movies such as Chinatown and Inherent Vice. People from all over the world come to see this unique slice of Los Angeles history.
When the cafe abruptly closed in late October 2021, people got really worried about the future of this beloved place. After some research, we learned about ‘landmark status,’ or HCM (Historic-Cultural Monument) designation. This is a way for citizens to nominate places that are important to them so they can be protected for future generations. On 21 December 2021, we formally applied for Walker’s to be recognized as a Historic-Cultural Monument. At the first landmarking hearing on 20 January 2022, the owners' representative stated that the cafe will be sold.
- Obtain HCM (Historic-Cultural Monument) status for Walker’s Cafe
- See the cafe reopened under new management
Here’s how you can help.