A former symbol of Silver Lake cool reopens … in Sunland?

Silver Lake Back Door Bakery. Photo from Back Door Bakery/MySpace

The Back Door Bakery helped lay the ground work for Silver Lake’s hipster era when it opened its doors on what was then a sleepy stretch of Silver Lake Boulevard near Effie Street in 1991.  For 17 years, Back Door’s blue awning welcomed a long line of customers  in search of coffee, pastries and a neighborhood gathering place. But  in January 2008, Back Door Bakery closed its doors after the landlord forced the bakery to move, prompting owner Deborah Rosen Goodale to declare she would reopen in a larger location but conceded she did not know where or when. Well, now we know.

Back Door Bakery held a grand opening in its a new home – a Sunland shopping center on Foothill Boulevard – earlier this month.  Sunland residents have embraced the former Silver Lake hot spot. Said one new admirer on Back Door’s Facebook page:

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have such a cool hip place like this in Sunland! We’ll be regulars!

Meanwhile, back in Silver Lake, a new tenant has yet to fill the space Back Door left behind.

How many fans of the Silver Lake Back Door will be heading to Sunland for a taste of nostalgia? Not Larry Kaplan, a former Back Door regular.

“Frankly, I doubt I will ever go – it’s 20 miles and a half hour drive without traffic,” Kaplan said. “Too far to go for a croissant in my opinion.”


  1. A triumphant if distant return! I still miss Back Door’s awesome fried egg sammiches, and will certainly make a trip out there to Sunland one of these weekends. Every time I drive or bike Silver Lake Boulevard past the still-vacant space from which the eatery was so unceremoniously booted I wonder if the property’s owners kick themselves for the decision they made. They should, every day.

  2. I can’t remember what happened – did the building owner kick them out (for whatever reason), or did she increase the rent on the bakery and they decided to move out rather than pay?

    I do remember employees of Modem Salon telling me two separate, gross stories about the sanitary conditions at Back Door, but frankly, after years of writing about restaurants for a living, I’m pretty sure restaurant nastiness is par for the course.

  3. Them getting booted out really sucked and I love how a lot of times when stuff like this happens, you still see the building/space still vacant. I remember when I found out, me and my friends went on their closing day. They said they were given 30 days to leave. A business has been there 17 years and you give them 30 days to leave?! I know they dont’ HAVE to give longer than that but you can have a heart about things. On Myspace/Facebook they would keep everyone updated on the progress. Unfortunately, Echo Park/Silverlake/Highland Park/Eagle Rock was just all out of their financial reach. Rent was too high. I thought that the salon wanted to expand into that space. It didn’t???? I loved walking from Allesandro/Berkley over the hill and down the Silverlake stair cases to get breaksfast. Just the best. Doubt I’ll go to Sunland to get something to eat unfortunately.

  4. I really wish there was more of this in that little area. That has to be the most useless stretch of shops. I don’t know how any of them survive. I only ever see people inside Lamill and Reservoir. Those trinket stores and liquor store are always empty. Sadly the most useful of them all is the 7-11.

  5. thick sliced bacon. grilled egg and cheese sandwich. flourless chocolate cake, warm. oh, how we’ve missed you backdoor bakery. best of luck with the new locale. that had to be a struggle to re-open. good for you.

  6. Former nyc mayor Ed Koch once said that the function of the Artistic set is to make a place so cool and desirable that they themselves can no longer afford to live there.

    Well it seems like many former Silver Lake mainstays have left Silver Lake because building owners think they can ask for more rent than the place is really worth. Back Door is one example, Mi Alma Gardens is another just off the top of my head

  7. We made the trip an it’s so well worth it. Best bakery in LA. Hands down.

  8. i miss this place. in retrospect, it was actually kind of gross but I still miss it. reminds me of being young and really enjoying living in Silverlake. Silverlake was pretty gross back then too and the Backdoor Bakery was a tasty mainstay in my routine.

  9. Sunland – the new Silver Lake.

  10. As a former eastsider relocated to Sunland, I rejoice at the arrival of the Back Door and invite more hipster eateries, shops and bars to transform our neighborhood. Foothill Blvd. has plenty of derelict diners awaiting new incarnations. And locals are invited to join the Sunland-Tujunga Bluenecks group on Facebook.

  11. Those of you who are reluctant to make the drive to Sunland might consider making an afternoon of it; you could start with a nice hike in the Verdugo Mountains (for a great workout, hike the Beaudry Loop off the 2 Freeway and Mountain or the trail at La Tuna Canyon and the 210), or check out the gentler trails and spectacular scenery at Deukmejian Park in La Crescenta. Alternately, you could take a scenic drive through Big Tujunga Canyon into the majestic San Gabriel Mountains before returning to Sunland to enjoy a sip and a scone. The Crescenta Valley isn’t the Sunset Junction, but parking is plentiful, the bearded bikers are on Harleys, not fixies … and hipsters are unheard of. 🙂

  12. I have never gone to, nor will I ever recommend that hair salon to anyone because of their treatment of BDB. Since BDB was evicted the space has been empty and they don’t get any rent from it AND they also lost potential customers…
    Good job dipshits.

  13. I remember that last month they were there the salon has some sorry note on there window. Some taped piece of scratch paper that was like “We will miss the Back Door Bakery and wish them luck.” or something half ass like that.

  14. The main reason the Silver Lake Blvd. business area (where Backdoor Bakery closed) is so lame is ironically due to the efforts of the former leader of the Chamber of Commerce who runs a chiropractor business right behind the Satellite Club (formerly Spaceland). She is a close friend of both the hair salon owner and Michael McKinley of the Sunset Junction Street Festival controversies (you can tell a lot about people by who they are friends with!). Because patrons of the salon and her business park for hours at a time they blocked installation of parking meters that freed up street parking in all the other SL bus. areas – as a result many businesses and restaurants (A+R, Michelangelo’s etc.)closed and moved. Meanwhile the Sunset Junction remained indpenedent, funky and busy with pedestrians while that stretch of Silver Lake Blvd. is frequented (as a previous commenter has noted) only by folks getting $9. coffees at LAMill.

    An important lesson for residents is that a strong business area helps raise property values and increase security. The recent shootings at house parties by the 7-11 underscore what happens when there is no foot traffic on deserted areas. Home-owners around the Sunset Junction benefit from the security that comes with lots of foot traffic day and night from the cool shops and attractive dining options.

  15. Dear Ms. Libertad. I have always enjoy your spunky comments and knowledge of our Neighborhood. To bad you always get it WRONG.
    Mr. Silver H2O

  16. @Mr. Silver Water-

    I deal in facts. I note you are not able to prove what part of my analysis and review of recent history is “wrong”.

    P.S. How is the salon doing?

  17. If memory serves me BDB got the boot because the owner of Modem (or a close friend) were going to open their own cafe there. They started to renovate and then I think they ran into some sort of issue with the city. Not sure what happened. Karma I guess.
    I live there and I disagree with the people who say its a deserted stretch. Its always pretty busy. Not Sunset Junction busy, but there are way less stores than Sunset junction. No one shops in any of those stores on Sunset either, they just sit around and drink coffee….
    Interesting about the parking meters. I always wondered why it seems like its the only retail stretch in all of LA with no meters.

  18. I would really love to know the story of what has happened with that space, and why nothing ever (re)opened there. Was it the recession, permitting issues, a greedy/unrealistic landlord?

    I have to agree, that stretch of SL is pretty sleepy. I liked it better when it was Netty’s, Back Door, Spaceland. The shops are pretty useless, the Thai restaurant mediocre, the whole vibe kinda icky. Not much reason to stop by, though I go by all the time.

    I do love Sunland but yeah, it’s too far for coffee.

  19. EP – Yes, I remember that note on their window and how excited they were to welcome LA Mill. I hope those stylists at Modem are enjoying LA Mill’s $50 breakfasts. Was surely the end of an era.

  20. La Mill is a great spot to have down the street, but I would certainly have preferred to live here with BDB around, and would probably have gone there on the regular. It seemed to be a welcoming and homey place that this area is now lacking, and as much as I do like La Mill’s coffee and the pleasant wait staff, the crowds can run a little too much towards people who hang out in public as if they expect someone will at any moment turn a camera in their direction and snap a photo.

    Lawson-Fenning has some interesting stuff, Yolk is great, the Thai place is a nice option when I don’t want to drive, the liquor store has good beer and wine despite its tiny size, and Domenico is if anything underrated because it took the place of another old neighborhood fave.

    But I am certain that a quality, low-key spot along the lines of BDB or the Village Bakery and Cafe in Atwater would probably be an enormous success. When you think about how many casual places one can comfortably walk to beyond this stretch, it’s very little. And considering how many people live along here and up in them thar hills, I think the ‘hood is jonesing for something like that. Best of luck to these guys up in Sunland.

  21. BDB had the worst scones EVER! But it was a nice neighborhood hang. It was a shame that they got booted out by the Modem salon lady. I knew her back when I lived on that stretch of SLB, and I can tell you that pure greed was her motive for kicking them out. Karma kickback for having the space empty for 4 years and counting, and yes, LAMill probably ruined her plans for ever having a cafe in that spot–they started charging $9 for coffee before she could.

  22. I miss A Dose of Joe, which was on Rowena, where Nicky D’s is now located.

  23. As to Back Door reopening, at least there is finally decent bread to be had in other parts of town. As to the look and feel of silver lake blvd., its nice and quaint, but anyone wanting to shop at the stores there is playing a bit of a gamble – the operating hours in that stretch are entirely too unpredictable. Nothing ever seems open at the same time as anything else.

  24. I hated BDB coffee but I loved there raisin croisants (snails). I miss those. As for all the name calling for the building owner, they have a right to do business as they see fit, but couldn’t they have put in something in to replace the bakery in all these years! I know LA Mill is there but it just does not have the same laid back feel I enjoyed at BDB.

  25. We did as James suggested in his comment above and enjoyed an excursion up the wonderfully scenic Big Tujunga Canyon yesterday (Saturday) morning, afterward visiting Back Door Bakery across the street from Sunland Park. While the new location in the middle of a minimall doesn’t offer the charm or outdoor seating space of its original location, it’s great that they’re back. Right now they’re mainly concentrating on breads and pastries, but when I asked owner Deborah if I might ever be able to get one of their fried egg sammiches in the future she said she’s aiming to have an expanded menu available in the coming months.

  26. I’ll go there. It’s bound to be worth it and good to support such an artesanal baker as Deborah. I enjoyed the BDB for years before I moved to Glendale and returned there frequently for the Lemon Sex and Cracked Wheat Baguette.

  27. the BDB has moved again! After a large fire that burned the place down, they moved two blocks easy in to a former starbux location. In addition to bringing back the old BDB brekkie and lunch faves they’ve expanded to dinner service, craft beers, and California wines!!! Same great homemade flavor for everything!

    Check out Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and Saturday nights for Game night, Trivia Night, and Saturday Night Live Music Shows, respectively.

    new Adress in 8349 Foothill BLvd in Sunland.

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