Original Saugus Cafe: LA's oldest restaurant struggling after recent outdoor dining ban

The Saugus Cafe in Newhall, built in 1886 as a train depot eatery, is the longest-running restaurant in LA County. It has survived earthquakes, floods, even a dam collapse, but COVID closures may shut it down.

The cafe posted a dire message on its Facebook page, stating they would permanently close their business in a week if customers were not able to dine outside. They encouraged the community to order takeout to help keep their restaurant open.

Owner Yesenia Mercado, overwhelmed by the help, says they are doing all they can, but they can’t hang on much longer without outdoor dining.

Restaurant owners may have gotten a judge to overrule the LA County outdoor ban, but California’s latest restrictions won’t allow outside dining for at least two more weeks, maybe more.

The historic eatery is dotted with photographs of stars like John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe who dined there when the restaurant served as a location for many western films. Even local legend says President Theodore Roosevelt stopped by. The cafe has also been featured in recent movie scenes with celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg.

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"We have to save it," says Santa Clarita’s mayor Bill Miranda. "It’s real history, but this is also about every restaurant that should be allowed to open, safely, for outdoor dining."

Miranda is doubtful Governor Newsom will end the restrictions at the end of December, so the city is joining lawsuits against the state, hoping for the same success they had with the county.

Meanwhile, Miranda encourages the community to support local businesses.

If you would like to help, they have a GoFundMe page set up.

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