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Philippe’s Patriarch Passes at 94

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010, at 01:44PM
IMGP4524 Ed Fuentes

Philippe's before the Tuesday lunch hour rush.

The former owner of landmark Downtown eatery Philippe's passed away on January 28 at the age of 94.

William “Bill” Binder took over the restaurant after he married into the French Dip institution, keeping the menu the same with its main offerings of beef, pork and ham dips.

He also maintained some peeks into L.A.’s past. Sawdust on the floor and large dining community dining tables were were common in French family-style restaurants found near Aliso, Vignes, and Commercial streets at the turn of the last century.

The Binders are the third family to own the famous eatery. Bill married Beverly Martin in 1944, according to yesterday's L.A. Times obit. Beverly’s father and two uncles purchased Philippe's in 1927 from the original French immigrant owner, Philippe Mathieu.

Bill retired in 1985, and the eatery is now run by his sons, John and Richard, who added healthier options to the menu.

Other than that, the only major change has been an expanded parking lot and the health department-mandated move to serve the hot mustard from a squeeze bottle, rather than a small open jar with a spoon.

Bill's real legacy may encouraging Philippe's then sole owner, the Martins, to take the new location offered in 1951 after they were forced to move due to construction of the Hollywood Freeway. The regulars did find them, and so did new customers. During the 100th Anniversary in 2008 it was noted that Dodger Stadium, which broke ground in 1959, gave the french dip added word of mouth from a customer base dropping in before a game.

Services will be held Saturday, February 13, 1:30 pm at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Alhambra.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Bill Binder’s honor to St. Therese Catholic Church; 510 N. El Molino St, Alhambra, CA 91801.

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