Monday, January 5, 2015

The Former Bucket

For the first few years I lived in my current house, I thought I was living in Eagle Rock.  It turns out I really live in Glassell Park.  It was an honest mistake.  I'd never heard of Glassell Park until I moved there.

Eagle Rock Blvd. runs between Eagle Rock and Glassell Park, then segues into Cypress Ave.  In the years before 1923, when Eagle Rock was annexed to Los Angeles, it was called Central Avenue.  One of the landmarks of Eagle Rock was "The Bucket" hamburger stand.  I had eaten there even before I lived in the neighborhood. When Esotouric posted this map of endangered buildings in Los Angeles, I was surprised to see this building at 4541 Eagle Rock Blvd. was on the list.   It's less than a mile away from me, and I had no idea.  It is an example of programatic architecture in which a building is designed to look like something else.  The original Brown Derby on Wilshire Blvd. is a well-remembered  example.

This 1972 photograph is from the Occidental College collection.

The Bucket opened in 1935, shaped like a lunch bucket of that era. No one seems to have a picture of the place when there was a handle on top, but this one, taken in 1986, shows a hinge on the side.  Maybe the handle was lost when this sign was put up.  I don't know anything about its early history, but sometime in the 1960s it was purchased by Julio Maeso, who became famous for insulting his customers as well as for his hamburgers and the brilliantly orange colored mustard and garlic sauce he served them with.  I remember the first time I ate there, before I moved into the neighborhood.  Julio was liberal with his insults to my husband, but nice to me, for some reason.  I wasn't crazy about the famous Julio Burger, but I loved the potato salad which was the special of the day.  When Julio sold The Bucket in 1995, the City Council Approved a resolution honoring him, saying "Julio Maeso, owner and founder of the Bucket, a popular hamburger stand in Eagle Rock that is about to be sold. The good-natured wisecracks that Maeso directs at his customers are part of the charm of the 25-year-old Bucket. The resolution was presented by Councilman Mike Hernandez, a longtime customer."

Younger people bought The Bucket.  They continued to serve the Julio Burger with its sauce. They added The Cardiac Burger to the menu.  It had fried onions and mushrooms, bacon and grilled ham on top of gigantic beef patties, served open faced with lettuce and tomato on the buns.    I think it changed ownership more than once after that, but kept the menu.  George Eckley was the owner when it was reviewed in 2009. According to the Eagle Rock Patch, Eckley had owned it 5 or 6 years when it closed at the beginning of October, 2013.

The next day, the Patch reported that it closed over a dispute about a parking place.

John Ho of Rosemead man went around Southern California in 2012 targeting small businesses in Southern California for alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. He sued The Bucket for not having an accessible parking place.  He filed hundreds of similar lawsuits.  He was one of a number of litigants bringing similar lawsuits thoughout the state.  Anthony Santillo owned the property where The Bucket did business.  He settled the lawsuit for $20,000 and wanted Eckley to cover the expenses.  When Eckley refused to pay, Santillo evicted him.  Another such  plaintiff, Tim Lee Conn, was revealed to have claimed fraudulently.  after that, Governor Brown placed limitations on the amount of damages that could be claimed.  When Eckley left, he kept the rights to the name, and the former Bucket became Dee-Dee's Dive, which didn't last very long. I decided the best way to find out the current status of the former Bucket was just to go there.

It's now called The Patio.  On New Year's Day, I saw plenty of people eating there.  I  passed up the opportunity myself, because I had more food in my refrigerator than money in my pocket.

The menu no longer includes the Cardiac.  There is a Portobello Burger though, and you can add bacon, a fried egg, or avocado to any burger.

The Patio's patio looks nice, but it make the former Bucket looks much less bucket-like.  If it were mine, I'd restore the handles and call it "The Lunch Pail."

Here is another picture which turned up on Facebook a while ago--

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