Love's Pit Barbecue

Love’s Wood Pit Barbecue

Alison Martino Hollywood

When you’re at LOVE’S, the whole world is delicious…

How I miss “Love’s Wood Pit Barbecue”. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, these recognizable retro structures were all over Southern California. They always seemed to be conveniently located and had pretty decent ribs for a chain. I have vivid memories of dipping that delicious bread in the BBQ sauce, (with the little seeds) with a side of their famous baked beans that tasted like candy. Mustn’t forget the bowls of water and lemon to clean your hands and face afterward. I felt so ‘adult’ getting Shirley Temples and walking through the the bar area to the ladies room. Their Heart’s Delight sandwich and hot fudge sundaes also stick out in my mind. You wonder how a place that good and that successful could go out of business, but sadly they no longer exist.

Love’s starting closing in the late 1980s. There were some changes in ownership and lawsuits over the years that took it’s toll on the corporation. The “flagship” location on on Pico mysteriously turned into a place called Noonan’s. Soon after, most of the locations started changing their names and all those love-shaped pole signs were soon re-purposed into other business marquees and advertisements.

My favorite celebrity sightings were The Jackson 5 and Tony Randall at the Beverly Hills location between Beverwil Dr. and Roxbury Dr. My friend, Michael Hagerty recalls seeing Linda and Paul McCartney at the location on La Tijera, “the American wife schooling the British hubby on American Barbecue”.

I also remember a “Love’s on Montana Ave. and San Vicente in the Brentwood during the late 1970s. I used to call it, “Wood’s Love’s Pit”. I truly miss the American family style restaurants (especially their straight-up, no nonsense cuisine) of the 20th century.

I’ve also been searching for their commercial for years, but no dice. It was like a romantic love song about BBQ sauce. No commercial voice over talent, before or since, has ever said “bar-b-qued beans” or “baked buh-tatuh” better.

“Love’s” on Hollywood Blvd, 1983

I would spend hours at the Hollywood location flipping through rare collectibles that I had just purchased next door at “Book City”. And I used to use the “Loves” pay phone in the back to call friends after school.

I “loved” their heart shaped logo. I would get so excited spotting them from various freeways. That sign on Pico was there for most of my life. It always reminded me of being little and going there with my folks. I became more sentimental about as I got older and things changed drastically here and around it. The iron handrails on Pico were made to include a heart in the design and the handrails are still there. And the heart sign was still there a few years ago, no name, just the pole with the empty heart.

Seeing old photos of “Love’s” takes me back to my childhood, when everything about L.A. was a dream, still is, in my mind, and I cherish the memories.

“M’Goo’s” and “Love’s” Restaurant at Hollywood Blvd. and Cherokee Ave in 1972. ‘

Photo Bruce Torrance

Vintage “LOVE’S” menu

My friend, Ilene Waterstone at Wood Pit BBQ on Reseda Blvd. in Northridge. March 21, 1972.

One of the first Love’s locations, located at Valley Circle in 1965

And Tommy Gelinas of ‘Valley Relics’ saved one of the original neon signs and it’s all lit up out at the Valley Relics Museum.

And BTW, you can still purchase “LOVE’S” BBQ sauce!
Click here!

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Alison Martino is a writer, television producer, and pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. Alison muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram.