East LA to get Grand Slammed

Photo by Aurelio Jose Barrera
The opening of a Denny’s restaurant is usually no big deal – there are more than 1,500 serving Grand Slam breakfasts 24 hours a day. But on Wednesday, according to signs posted on the windows, the giant coffee shop chain is scheduled to open its first East Los Angeles outlet in a minimall at the corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Mednik avenues. It is one of the few sit-down, chain restaurants to operate in unincorporated East Los Angeles, which is still dominated by mom-and pop taquerias and independent restaurants. The last real estate boom saw the arrival of other major restaurant and coffee house chains that have brought a suburban flavor to parts of East Los Angeles, including a Starbucks on Third Street and a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Mednik. A 2007 Los Angeles Business Journal story credited the building of the Gold Line Eastside Extension for attracting the retail chains.

The opening of the Denny’s, and a neighboring Subway, has already raised concerns of gentrification or, as one person on LA Eastside put it, “suburbanification.” But the traditional Mexican meals and restaurants of East LA are not going away anytime soon. Across the street from the new Denny’s, Zamora restaurant beckons diners with a sign declaring it “The King of Carnitas.”

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