205 Imperial Highway, La Puente: Ye Olde Tuscan House of Pancakes Chapel & Sportsbar
pancakes and salsa dancing anyone?
Try to pin down the original purpose of this building -- was it a Black Angus Steakhouse? Dancehall? Place of worship? All three simultaneously?
205 Imperial Highway in La Puente is the kind of building-as-sausage that occurs when a property is re-purposed over and over, added to, covered-up or slapped-on with no direction.
Let's imagine the disjointed thought processes in a timeline of exceptionally bad decisions:
Owner number 1: "Can you make it look like old Sicily, with a mafia vibe?"
Contractor number 1: "Sure, we'll add some cheap stone veneer and take out all the windows."
Owner number 2: "We don't have a lot of money, can you make this building into a youth ministry chapel real cheap?"
Contractor number 2: "Sure, we'll add stained glass windows on top."
Owner number 3: "What can we do to fix this ugly piece of shit? It's gonna be a massage parlor up top with a Sizzler on the ground floor."
Contractor number 3: "Hmmm, how about painting it rancid mustard yellow and diarrhea brown?"
Stuck on a vacant parking lot off a lonely stretch of Imperial Highway that straddles La Puente and La Mirada, this sad, sad building is practically screaming out for a wrecking ball to end its misery. Its confused pile of unorganized shapes and volumes is crowned by a strange outcropping of stained glass -- with a pattern that resembles intersecting chrysanthemums and Tylenol tablets or copulating tree grubs. Maybe this place was a pet store?
Faux stonework slapped onto the too many front columns hints at a past life as a theme restaurant. On the other hand, the asterisk-patterned beams in the upper windows might suggest a secret society meeting hall.
The biggest mystery of all, however, is what on earth might lie inside. We can't know since there are no windows, but we can hope for red Naugahyde booths, dusty chandeliers, water features, altars, Grecian mosaics and massage rooms. Ultimately, this archeological guesswork is futile.
The craziest part is, somebody's actually trying to lease the thing, and in a miserable attempt at continued maintenance, they're keeping up the lawn and landscaping as if a new operator is actually going to move in anytime soon. Who knows...for someone opening a Godfather's pizza with line-dancing competitions and gospel concerts for frumps who love brown, this property is the perfect match.
Follow @LAWeeklyArts on Twitter.
Get the Theater
Your weekly guide to local culture with calendar listings and theater, dance, and comedy reviews.