McLaughlin, von Coelln & Extended Family

"Restaurants became an important part of Broadway, serving both the shopping and theater-going public. Besides full-service restaurants in all of the major department stores, Schaber's Cafeteria became a favorite destination after its opening in 1928 next to the Palace Theatre." -- Broadway Initiative Action Plan, Los Angeles Conservancy, July 1999 (Appendix A)

Schaber Connections to the Boos Brothers

The Boos Brothers are often credited with opening and popularizing the first cafeteria in Los Angeles. The four brothers first cafeteria was on the south side of 2nd Street between Spring and Broadway. Orlando "John" was chef; Cyrus the butcher and baker; while Horace and Henry washed dishes, swept the floor and took in the money. They soon opened six more cafeterias on Broadway, Olive and Hill streets, Santa Catalina Island and two in San Francisco.

The Boos Brothers' mother was Mathilde Schaber. One of Mathilde's nephews, Alfred Gottlieb Schaber, came to America

Cousin Alfred Schaber Meets the Boos Brothers and Opens First Schabers Cafeteria

In Los Angeles, Alfred had found his entrance into the restaurant business as a boy cleaning in the dining area of the Boos Brothers Cafeteria. Horace Boos found many of his same attributes (with the accounting background and all) and soon promoted Alfred to help in the office. Horace and Alfred got along well.

Alfred Schaber opened Schabers Cafeteria at 620 S. Broadway in 1928.

Erhard follows Wanderlust to America

"I wrote Alfred Schaber in Los Angeles -- in very tortured English -- that I was coming [to America]. I told him I was coming no matter what and I hoped that he might be able to do something about getting a job for me and whatever he could think of and if he would write me. Finally there was a letter on the stationary of the new cafeteria at 620 S. Broadway, saying he would be glad to see me, would see what he could do to get me a job, but that company policy forbade family members to be hired."

Erhard arrived in Los Angeles at "the old Santa Fe station at Second Street. And there were Alfred and Madeline Schaber. The last time I had seen him was years ago when he and Otto Katzenmeyer and John and Ann Boos visited Heidelberg. He had come to our house to leave some clothes of Horace Boos' (Horace had died the previous year). Katzenmeyer was an uncle of Alfred's, and they had joined John and Ann on their tour through Europe. Anyway, Alfred insisted on driving by then new cafeteria on 620 South Broadway--it had only been open six months. All lit up, and I could stare up at the car window."

Erhard Enters the Restaurant Business

Because of the company policy forbidding family members to be hired, Erhard spent many of his first days looking for a job in Los Angeles. He finally found one and told Alfred. "Consequently I was amazed to hear Alfred say, "How would you like to start working for me tomorrow?" Wasn't that something? Would I like it? Boy would I! So that's when I started in the cafeteria business. I worked for him for just a month short of 18 years. Started as an office boy at $16 per week, that was about 45 hours or better, and meals of course."

In July of 1943, "Alfred had handed me a letter signed by him and Bill Schell in which I was named a director in Schaber Cafeteria company, after the ouster--or more or less resignation--of Ben Conrad."

Alfred Plans to Retire

"Well, after the war, things got tougher, and he sort of felt he wanted to get out of the business. He began looking around to see if he could sell. Well, one of our stockholders was an important real estate man downtown and Alfred got him and his associate to go put out feelers. They found that the Furrs Cafeterias in Kansas City was interested in coming out here, and so a deal was made." Alfred sold the business on April 6, 1947 and Erhard stayed on to help run things. But the gentleman that Furrs hired turned out to be a crook and Erhard and Al Denicola went to look for other options.

Erhard Opens His Own Cafeteria

Erhard and Al finally opened up a cafeteria at LaBrea and Wilshire around 1949 or 1950 (with the backing of Clarke and Rosecrans). Al left his wife in charge of the cafeteria he had set up at the Los Angeles Times and began the operations of their new cafeteria. It was tough going, especially after a month or so into the new venture when they found out the big General Electric (?) plant across from the cafeteria -- a source for many of their clientele -- was going to open their own cafeteria.

They then swapped addresses with owners of 720 S Hill St, Los Angeles. The LaBrea and Wilshire location went under (they had just gotten out in time) and the Downtown S. Hill Street location thrived. Five or six years later, they opened the second cafeteria in North Hollywood on Victory Blvd.

Times were tough and they got into a few scraps over the years, but they succeeded. Near the end, Al went back to the Times cafeteria and Erhard was left with the cafeteria operations mostly to himself. He finally decided to retire and sell the cafeteria in 1976. He was receiving many offers, mainly from businessmen, yet he told one of them, "You don't have enough money to buy this cafeteria. Why don't you get together with a couple of these other fellows and buy it together. And that's what they did." The sale was hardly a windfall, but he could live comfortably from the money he received for his stock in the venture.

More Family History

Also See: Schabers Cafeteria Home Page 620 S. Broadway Location North Hollywood & Hill Street
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