Friday, July 21, 2006

Tick Tock Story



Tick Tock was a family restaurant that was located in Hollywood, California for 58 years. This restaurant was started by Art and Helen Johnson in 1930. The picture above comes from a postcard of the inside part of the Restaurant. You will notice that there were a lot of antique clocks and chandeliers located in this restaurant. This picture was taken when the restaurant was decorated for Christmas with elfs on the chandeliers.


People would ask me how the Restaurant got such an unusual name like Tick Tock. The story of the derivative of this name is a very interesting one.

The original name of the restaurant was the Tick Tock Tea Room. During the depression many restaurants were called Tea Rooms. They were like the Diners that are located along the East Coast. Later Tick Tock dropped the words "Tea Room" and now the name was just Tick Tock Restaurant. There was a lot of family pride connected to this business. So the Tick Tock was a big part of your heritage as a Johnson and was an Hollywood California institution for 58 years from 1930 to 1988.


Mom and Dad met in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Together they decided to try their luck; so they came to California and opened a restaurant. Mom had some experience by working in a restaurant in Minneapolis as a waitress, but Dad was a Ford mechanic without any restaurant experience. Yet Dad was quite a businessman. No matter what he would have done, he would have been successful.

No one knows when were they were married, but by the time they had their first children (the twins - Richard and Ronald) in 1933. That was three years after they opened their first restaurant and they had been married for a while at that time.

In 1930 they came to California with a brand new Model A Ford, which my father worked on. The Tick Tock story tells about how they sold this car to open their first restaurant.


In 1930 ARTHUR and HELEN JOHNSON were newly arrived in Los Angeles from Minneapolis with very little folding money and little else but a shiny Model A Ford and an old family clock in the back seat, looking to the future. The depression was in full swing and friends advised them against going into the business they hoped to establish, but they resisted such pressure and opened their restaurant.

The little Model A Ford was sold for $500 and with this money a down payment was made on the first Tick Tock, a vine-covered cottage on Beverly Boulevard and New Hampshire Street. The old family clock was hung on the wall and the name of TICK TOCK was first heard in the fall of 1930.

In late October, the doors opened and on an average day the Johnsons' served 30 persons. Tick Tock served half-a-million persons each year . On Thanksgiving Day in 1930, Tick Tock served 99 persons. On Thanksgiving Day of 1961, 4000 enjoyed a Tick Tock Dinner.

Though all these years Tick Tock was remained a family institution. Tick Tock was a real family institution. In its hay day sons Richard and Arland Johnson, nephew Jerry and brother-in-law Stan Potepan and George Hennen all participated in the operation at Tick Tock.

Arthur and Helen Johnson believe their many customers have recognized the reasons for this success, which has been based upon excellent service, friendly atmosphere, fair and reasonable prices and most of all, the finest quality of food.

Smiling waitresses would bring endless cups of hot coffee to their customers and all the sweet, tasty hot rolls they desired.

ARTHUR and HELEN JOHNSON still actively surprise the food and service of these fine Tick Tock Restaurants. All pies, cakes, rolls and salad dressings were prepared in their own kitchen. The original family clock still hangs on the Tick Tock wall.

Here is a picture that was taken with a customer. The big clock that was behind us was known as a prayer clock. It was French grandfather type clock and it originally had a pine case. Pine was such a soft wood that most of them today you will find like this one


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11:22 AM  
Blogger Fred Cline said...

I remember you seating myself and my friends who used to come to the Hollywood restaurant in the early '80's when I was at art school. I continued going with my wife when we first were married. I thought the restaurant served good food at a good price, so I enjoyed going there. I was disappointed to see it close. Thanks for posting the memories. I still have an ashtray and book of matches as souvenirs! p.s., I didn't steal the ashtray - my wife asked you for it and you said, "yes"!

11:42 AM  

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