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The Nickel Diner's 1940s Doppelgänger

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011, at 07:41AM
Downtown's Two Nickels USC Digital Archives / blogdowntown

Then and Now: The Big Nickel Restaurant at 639 S. Main, left, and the Nickel Diner at 524 S. Main, right.

Main Street's Nickel Diner is about to celebrate its third birthday, having opened its doors on August 27, 2008,, but look back through old photos in the USC Digital Library's archives and you may just find the eatery's doppelgänger in the 1940's.

The Big Nickel Restaurant was located at 639 S. Main, just a block down from the present-day diner.

The menu—at least as reflected in the signage out front—sounds not all that different from the food that Monica May and Kristen Trattner offer today. Coffee, donuts and "delicious pies" get a prominent placement.

It doesn't appear that the Big Nickel was as good at publicity as the Nickel Diner, which has appeared on the Food Network, Column One of the L.A. Times, and gotten numerous other mentions. The only time the restaurant got its name in the paper was on October 2, 1943, when it was one of four companies to admit guilt in violating War Manpower Committee rules.


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