By Michele Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
Favorite Santa Clarita restaurants have come and gone over the years. However, a surprising number of “historic” SCV eateries remain. Make a date with history and sample the fare at any of these remaining landmarks.
17846 Sierra Highway Canyon Country, 91351 Established 1966 Info www.backwoodsinn.com
A wonderful, old time steakhouse with sawdust on the floors. They are famous (locally) for their stuffed baked potato.
Jerry Woods, first opened the Backwoods Inn in 1966. In 1968 Bob and Rose Ohler purchased the restaurant and the family still runs the eatery.
Fun fact: The china at the Backwoods Inn is Strawberry Hill by Syracuse, the same china used at Musso & Frank’s Restaurant in Hollywood.
The restaurant has been used for location shoots for “Charlie’s Angels (the original), “Starsky & Hutch,” “The Profiler” and “Criminal Minds,” among others.
Famous faces dining here have included Mandy Patinkin, James Garner, David Hasslehoff, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Dale Robertson, Tippie Hedren, Yvonne DeCarlo, James Earl Jones, Gene Hackman, Bella Shaw, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lorne Green, Monty Montana, Dwayne
Johnson and Bob Barker.
Chi Chi’s Pizza
27117 Sierra Highway Canyon Country, 91387 Established 1967 in SCV Info www.chichispizza.com
Chi Chi’s Pizza is much more than pizza. The restaurant offers pasta, sandwiches, seafood and more. Try the restaurant’s signature “Our Famous Golden Pressure Fried Chicken,” a best-seller at the Saugus location. Order the sourdough rolls. Trust me, you won’t regret it, but you might find you have a new dining addiction.
Frank Paul Miccolis, a first-generation Italian-American, opened his first Chi Chi’s restaurant in Panorama City in 1958. In less than a decade he opened other locations in Saugus and Simi Valley. The Canyon Country location opened in 2000.
The chain, now 63 years old, is run by the founder’s son, Paul Miccolis.
When Chi Chi’s opened in Saugus there were few homes, just onion fields. However, the master planned community of Valencia was underway and tracks of new homes, soon followed.
Chi-Chi’s has restaurants in Canyon Country, Northridge, Saugus and Simi Valley. Saugus, For more history visit www.chichispizza.com/our-story
Halfway House Cafe
15564 Sierra Highway, Saugus 91390 Established 1931 Info www.thehalfwayhousecafe.com
Try Halfway’s Special Chicken Salad or the Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
The Halfway House Cafe got its name from its location halfway between Los Angeles and Palmdale. It began as a trading post in 1906. The restaurant was established in 1931.
A popular filming location since the 1930s Clint Eastwood filmed a scene here for “Heartbreak Ridge” (1986).
Just a few years ago it seemed that the Halfway House Cafe was in half the commercials and television shows on the air.
Credits include: “Heroes,” “Melrose Place,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Numbers,” “CSI,” “ER,” “The King of Queens,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Monk,” “Space Cowboys,” “Lost in America,” Waitress,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Every Which Way But Loose.”
Among the cafe’s most famous commercial appearances are the 2014 Geico Motorcycle Insurance “Diner” commercial and the iconic 1991 Pepsi commercial featuring Cindy Crawford.
Le Chene French Cuisine
12625 Sierra Highway Agua Dulce, 91390
Established 1980 Info https://lechene.com
While Le Chene is merely celebrating its 42nd anniversary, the building that houses the charming French restaurant has a wonderful history that dates back to 1923 when the owners of The Oaks Garage (established 1917) hired a contractor (using a horse and wagon) to haul river stones from Big Rock Creek, south of Pearblossom to construct a café. The trip took two days to complete in each direction. The stones gave the building a castle-like appearance. Postcards of the time refer to it as the Castle Oaks Garage and Café.
In the 1950s it was a destination for celebrities including Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) and Jane Wyman. Crime boss Mickey Cohan was said to have conducted business while dining at The Oaks Cafe. Clark Gable would park his motorbike out front while he ate.
Current owner Juan Alonso purchased the building in 1981 and made improvements including landscaping that included a wooden waterwheel and lush foliage to create a romantic restaurant escape.
For more information on the history of Le Chene and The Oaks Garage visit https://scvhistory.com/scvhistory/ ja1601.htmc.