Ask where to get knives sharpened, especially during this time of year when optimal equipment is essential for taking on holiday fowl and hams, and chances are you'll hear the same name from committed steel blade owners across Los Angeles: Ross.
Just because a business like Ross Cutlery has been around for 80-plus years doesn't mean it's immune from wanting to upgrade. So back in March, it moved a few doors south on Broadway within the historic heart of downtown. Why the change? "Much better space, more visibility. Three times the amount of square footage. It was just an all-around better deal for us," explains co-owner Allen Wattenberg.
Some of us have had brushes with knife sharpeners elsewhere we'd like to forget. Thankfully, experienced hands at Ross skillfully erase the damage while earning customer trust and loyalty. Allen Wattenberg and his brother, Richard, continue to offer cutlery maintenance services because they do it well. And because it gets people in the (much wider) doors. So after your Globals, Wüsthofs or barber shears have been dropped off for their regular tuneup, there's always plenty of other gear to look at. If there's something else Ross excels at, it's straining the concept of what cutlery auxiliary products might entail.
Not uncommon is the customer who walks out with a new pocket knife or an upgraded cleaver. Or a compass. Hey, how about a harmonica? Twenty additional display cases, more wall area (not an inch of which is wasted in the grand Ross space-efficiency tradition) with "still more room to grow" are some of the perks. You can accomplish more holiday shopping at Ross than you might think. Want an electric barbershop pole? Check the rear wall for a few different models, since they're much easier to see than before. The Wattenbergs now stock some additional kitchen knife lines, too.
It might seem as if Ross Cutlery occupied its space in the Bradbury Building for all of its existence, which Allen Wattenberg estimates to have begun sometime around 1930, if not earlier. But that sliver of square footage was actually the third space Ross occupied in the landmark building. (Subway on Broadway was Ross before it became another fast food sandwich chain outlet.) This December will mark 50 years since the brothers, who spent their early childhood in New York before their family settled here in Lynwood, purchased the modest cutlery business. Back then, Mr. Ross was more focused on repair services than on growing a retail operation.
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Despite the transition to a single-story building that, to our eye, doesn't register as an oft-used movie location, Ross Cutlery's crucial elements remain: an unparalleled selection, friendly service, impeccable quality and high standards. The famous antique scale is still out front on the sidewalk across the street from Grand Central Market. (Next-day service, however, has replaced while-you-wait knife sharpening.) And speaking of other recently enlarged brick-and-mortar L.A. food businesses, McCall's Meat and Fish's bigger store was revealed last week, just in time for your holiday orders.
324 S. Broadway, Downtown; (213) 626-1897.
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